Am I Late: FX’s Atlanta
Another Outdated Recommendation, This Time for Selfish Reasons
I love FX’s Atlanta. Of course, I would be obsessed with FX’s Atlanta. And it’s not for the reasons you probably think. It’s not because I’m a black male. It’s not because I’m Southern and there are characters on the show that have a Southern dialect I grew up hearing every day of my life. It’s not because the protagonist is an Ivy League guy named Earnest — spelled E-A-R-N-E-S-T.
Actually, forget all that. Those are exactly the reasons why I love the show. This show has shown a perspective that I’ve always wanted in a favorite show — my perspective. Donald Glover and his all black writing staff have successfully shown the complexities and subtleties of life as a Black American. Some days you want to discuss the contradictions of gun policies or how mental health is dealt within minority communities, while other times you want to go to the club or argue about whether rap today is better than the rap of the early 2000s.
When I first heard about the show I was skeptical about its content. But after reading the premise and hearing trusted TV critics (like Chris Ryan & Andy Greenwald) state that this would be the best TV show of the Fall, I had to watch. But after watching promos, I had nothing to hold on to other than a new favorite white guy emo song (move over Bon Iver and James Blake!). I just didn’t know what to expect.
And then I saw the first two episodes and I was hooked. The scene that I will always remember will be the “jail scene” in Episode 2, where Earn is waiting to get bailed out. But while he waits he and the other offenders collectively have a conversation on the serious issues of mental health, sexuality, and police brutality in the most creative way I’ve ever seen. The feel of the scene wasn’t in your typically forced “very special episode” structure. The pace was more Golden State Warriors-ish, with a smooth cadence of joke, joke, woke, then joke.
That pace is consistent throughout the entire first season and it’s honestly what makes the show feel as real as it does — despite invisible cars, absurd Dodge Charger commercials, and a pet peacock in a night club. This show puts real moments out there and it feels like the graduate course to my introductory college credits of TV watching as a kid. My first favorite course was taught by Professor Jerry Seinfeld. FX’s Atlanta feels like a new spin on the “show about nothing.” I’ve found myself saying I’ve felt that way around bougie black people, I’ve spent a pointless amount of time at the club before, and I’ve been frustrated because I didn’t have enough money.
So I will stop being selfish and recommend everyone watch this show, even though I’m 1% sure it was only made for me (if my life is like the Truman Show). But I’ll assume it was created for a larger audience. And if you were ever searching for a love child between the creative orgy of Seinfeld, Boondocks, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Chappelle Show, then you will love this comedy. If not maybe it was just made for that sarcastic black kid from Little Rock, Arkansas who loved watching Seinfeld. But FX’s Atlanta gives me the opportunity to really relate to this version of “Jerry.” It reminds me of friends from home and college when I watch scenes of this TV universe’s “Kramer” (Darius), this story’s “Elaine” (Van) and a rapping “George” (Paper Boi).
Throughout the season, I have recommended the show to a few people. Though I wasn’t sure others would enjoy it, I have been pleasantly surprised by the reception of the show. The biggest signal to me that this show is doing something right, was a text thread with my mom. Now my mom is hilarious and has a great sense of humor but in the past, she hasn’t liked some of my show recommendations — Seinfeld being one of them. But when I received this text message (below) from my Mom, I knew these stories were special.
So watch the series finale tomorrow and if you haven’t watched an episode yet then binge it. I mean come on, my Mom even loves this show.
Thanks to FX’s Atlanta for making me laugh, think and laugh some more in an interesting 2016.
Earnest Sweat is an Entrepreneurial Engineer for Camelback Ventures and an Investor in Residence for Backstage Capital. If you have any questions or requests please connect with Earnest through LinkedIn, Twitter, or AngelList.
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