When Donald Glover introduced the world to his view of an American city with the show “Atlanta,” the city of Atlanta was at its cultural height. Driven mostly by a powerful music scene and Black political and business figures, Atlanta was viewed by many outsiders as a place where Blacks could prosper while maintaining a cultural identity.
Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” took those elements and created a world of Black surrealism and odd humor. The first two seasons captured the essence of the city perfectly with episodes that explored themes such as a rapper (Paper Boi, portrayed by Brian Tyree Henry) seeking fame in the music industry; barbers that send their clients on a journey; and zany experiences at a nightclub.
But the show also excelled in terms of surrealism with episodes such as Teddy Perkins; Katt Williams keeping an alligator as a pet; and Paper Boi getting lost in the woods as he seeks to find himself.
However, the show strayed a bit in season 3 as the theme centered around main characters visiting Europe for a tour. There were also multiple one-off episodes that explored reparations; colorism; and a Caribbean funeral. Season 3 lacked the flare of the previous two seasons and failed to connect to what “Atlanta” previously represented.
Enter season 4.
The final season kicks-off with crew back in the city of Atlanta with the opening scene taking place at Greenbriar Mall, a shopping center located in the predominately Black Southwest, Atlanta. Darius (portrayed by LaKeith Stanfield) is attempting to return an AirFryer in the midst of riot where people are looting. After Darius’ attempt to return the item is unsuccessful, he’s chase by a White woman in a wheel chair who is hellbent on attacking him. Earn (portrayed by Glover) and Van (portrayed by Zazie Beetz) take a trip to the Atlantic Station shopping center where they both run into several of the exes. And Paper Boi goes on a scavenger hunt to find a dead rapper’s funeral.
Overall, season 4 kicks-off with the themes and tone that made it successful in the first two seasons.
ADW spoke with cultural critic and Morehouse College professor Christopher A. Daniel to get his thoughts on “Atlanta.”
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