It’s the birth of a new series and strangely, it’s a dramedy. Which is surprising in a good way for it makes it feel like Atlanta is bridging the gap between the comedy star Donald Glover is known for and the rare, non-soap opera styled depiction of not only Black people but issues which are part of the culture.
Main Plot (with Commentary)
Topic 1: Looking At The Border of Being a Deadbeat (Earnest [Donald Glover] and Van [Zazie Beetz])
With a job paying $5.15 plus commission, having a child, and living with his girlfriend who is dating other people, Earn’s life isn’t at its best. To put it frankly, he is struggling. What makes things worse though is he seemingly had this Princeton education he let go and now everyone treats him like a mooch.
The mystery that needs to be solved is what happened at Princeton? It seems three years ago things were going right for Earn and then something happened and that was it. To make things more intriguing, no one knows what the hell happened. His parents don’t know, I doubt Van knows, and even that situation makes you raise an eyebrow. How in the world are you going to live with the father of your child, seemingly still mess around with him, but be upfront you are dating other people? Granted, if she didn’t give him a home it would be likely he would be homeless since Earn’s parents won’t take him in, but damn her just letting it out that she was going to be out till 11 on a date was sort of harsh. Yet also weird since they were making out, less than 15 minutes before she revealed the date, and she asked him to say he loved her.
Unless that was the test to see if she would still go on that date.
Topic 2: Paper Boi (Earn, Darius, and Alfred)
Earn’s cousin Paper Boi, or Alfred as he is known to the family, could potentially blow up. His mixtape isn’t universally respected, but it seemingly is doing well enough for Alfred to not be struggling like Earn. So, seeing an opportunity, Earn tries to be Alfred’s manager. Problem is, while Earn went to college, Alfred wants a Malcolm X type as a manager. Earn’s counter is Alfred is his own Malcolm X and he needs a Malcolm. After all, Alfred is the type to greet people at his door with a gun and his odd friend Darius will have a butcher knife to back him up.
Yet, despite being initially rejected, Earn presses on to get Alfred’s single “Paper Boi” played on the radio and while an old friend, possibly from college, possibly not, is of no help, a janitor named Prince opens a door. However, being that Alfred is a Malcolm X type, it seems just as things were possibly going well he ruins it. All over a dude who kicks off Alfred’s side mirror.
Though not talked a lot about in the summary, honestly I think one of the most memorable characters of this show might be Darius. He, to put it simply, is some sort of comic relief. He is a bit of a weird dude, like asking Earn’s father Raleigh (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) if he can measure a tree on his lawn kind of weird. Not because he is into trees, the earth, or anything like that, but because he is just this random cat who isn’t all there. Which sort of leads you to wonder how he and Alfred became friends, if not roommates? Now, it could be possible there is more there than it seems, but who knows if Glover and company may have introduced a gay thug rapper. Plus, it could just be the case of while everyone abandoned Alfred after his mom died, like Earn did, Darius was still there. So, even if he may not offer much besides company and making cookies, at least Alfred knows he is there for him and not the potential of fame.
To me, this show presents a different view of Black people. Yes, Alfred is thuggish and Darius seems like he belongs in a sequel to Half Baked, but alongside that you got Earn who seems like a normal dude. Granted, that Princeton dropout makes it seem like there are likely issues he is hiding, but how many Black male characters are there really like Earn? Much less who are the star and not some token best friend?
On top of that, I like the idea that the drama is Earn trying to figure out a way to take care of his daughter and not end up homeless, and the comedy is everything else. To me, there aren’t enough dramedy type shows out there. Especially, not to beat a broken horse, predominately starring Black people. Often it is either Black comedies, with the occasional dramatic episode, like Black-Ish or else it is a straight rainbow coalition drama like what Shonda Rhimes puts out.
Which, I should note, there is nothing wrong with. The reason I can even note those shows and what they offer is because I avidly watch them. However, I also have watched shows like The Big C and many others which were rooted in the misery of surviving but finding little silver linings which get you through it. And that is why in the overview I say Glover is bridging a gap because it often feels like we can’t get both a funny show which also consistently is serious about each character’s issues. Yet, Glover is trying to change that.
On The Fence
Without checking the previews, honestly, I think the only thing which could bug some people is that the rap music we hear from Alfred, it might not be considered that good. So considering Earn is trying to manage and promote him, you may have to get used to Alfred’s rhymes.