Season 3 of Atlanta is about growth from the main cast and Glover flexing on the strength of Atlanta nearly every other episode.

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Season 3 of Atlanta is about growth from the main cast and Glover flexing on the strength of Atlanta nearly every other episode.

Network FX
Genre(s) Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Young Adult
Noted Characters
Al Brian Tyree Henry
Earn Donald Glover
Darius LaKeith Stanfield
Socks Hugh Coles
Lorraine Ava Grey
Van Zazie Beetz

This content contains pertinent spoilers.


With Paperboi, aka Al, on his European tour, there are moments of culture clash or confusion. However, the bigger issues come from him recognizing who in his inner circle are stepping up and adding to what he has and who is taking from him. This especially is pushed after meeting a woman named Lorraine, who pushes Al to ask these questions. For while Earn has really lived up to his name, Darius? A new guy named Socks? Not so much.

And as all this happens, Van is trying to rediscover herself or form a new version of herself in Europe, and interweaves with what is going on with Darius, Earn, and Al as she tries to escape the life she has in Atlanta.

Things To Note

What Could Happen Next

  1. With Earn living up to his potential and Van hitting rock bottom, maybe them both being in a good place in season 4 and reuniting? They did seem to sleep together this season.
  2. Al really looking over his relationship with Darius and questioning if he has outgrown him.



All The Non-Earn And His People Episodes Don’t Make You Think They Wasted An Episode On Nonsense

Aaron (Tyriq Withers) looking in the camera, hinting at what he is about to do
Aaron (Tyriq Withers)

From re-writing Davonte Hart’s story to showing a comical version of what the world would be like if reparations were taken to the extreme, to questioning what is Black enough? The show spent nearly half of its entire season not focused on the main cast. At first, you may wonder why, especially since this show is ending soon and it has been such a large gap between seasons. Yet, in a bold and audacious way, Glover and his team decided to not only split the season into what seemed to be self-contained episodes but start the season without the lead actors.

To me, that is risky and shows how much faith Glover has in his viewers and voice.

Earn’s Growth

When we met Earn, he was just trying to figure a way to get and keep a job, not lose Van, and avoid coming off like a deadbeat. But look at him now. He is not only Al’s manager but seemingly keeps that tour going smoothly, negotiates a good contract for Al, and reminds you that he is a well-educated dude. He is that guy who finally lives up to his potential once he gets the opportunity to do so. I mean, even Al seems surprised at times how much Earn is on it.

The Social Commentary

Whether it is exploiting white guilt for personal profit, and maybe for the betterment of Black people, to noting how much maids and other kinds of helpers sacrifice time with their children for other people’s, the season is riddled with social commentary. Oftentimes wrapped up in a joke, but you can’t ignore a character being half-Black, with all white friends, and getting mad when he is determined not to be Black enough, and the question looming of what does that mean? Mind you, not just in the context of being a Black American, but what does being Black mean if you can trace your ancestry to Africa since your family came to America by choice.

Sylvia and Sebastian (Indy Sullivan Groudis) taking a school photo together
Sylvia and Sebastian (Indy Sullivan Groudis)

Those topics and more push season 3 of Atlanta to remind you this isn’t just a comedy that can be seen about nothing. There are layers here, conversation starters, and even thought-provoking things. Atlanta doesn’t want to just make you laugh and fade off into your memory. It wants to spark something in you, even if just inner dialog.

Van No Longer Being The One Who Has It All Together

Though you could submit that Atlanta still is a far too male-dominated show, with Van being the sole consistent female character being unfortunate, there is no denying her arc this season wasn’t magnificent. From what could be seen as erratic actions to the season finale when she broke down all she was going through, Van perhaps was the only character who had a storyline this season.

When it came to everyone else, they were reacting to local stimuli or each other. Van was going through stuff, trying to process it, hide from it, fight it, and eventually gave in to the idea that she just didn’t know what was next for her. Thus making her be the beating heart of the season, the one who got the opportunity to fail and flail after holding on for so long, and it’s hard to not appreciate.

On The Fence

Recognizing The Character Growth, But Wondering If The Story As A Whole Is Moving Forward Much

Van and Earn looking over their shoulders

With Atlanta often seeming random, there is the need to sometimes ask what is the endgame? Paperboi has gone on a European tour now, but what’s next for him? Al is doing a good job managing him, but is that all he wants? Does he want to expand his roster, maybe start his own company? This is touched upon in episode 3 to a point, but there isn’t really any follow-up.

What about Darius? He has pretty much just been hanging around, living on Paper Boi’s coattails, and with Al getting a wake-up call, will that continue? Will their relationship change? For Van, we got questions and answers in the same season. For everyone else? You had to look at the series as a whole to see growth and a story, and even then, there remains the question of whether we should be further at this point?

Trying To Understand The Timeline And If Everything Is One Universe

In the final episode, it is hinted what seemed to be self-contained stories might be part of the mainline. The thing is, with the final scene hinting that the reparations storyline was real, is this something that will be explored in season 4? Is it that America was going through a lot of stuff, and Earn and the rest weren’t aware between the tour and more? How is all that we saw going to come together if it does?


Our Rating: Positive (Watch This)

Both as a Black show, in front and behind the camera, and just a show in general, Atlanta is brilliant. It deserves a pedestal and should be considered a modern classic.

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