Donald Glover’s ‘Atlanta’, Why it’s The Realest Show on TV

ATLANTA — Pictured: (l-r) Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles, Keith Standfield as Darius, Donald Glover as Earnest Marks. CR: Matthias Clamer/FX

Donald Glover or Childish Gambino is our generation’s modern day Two Face. In the daytime Glover writes and stars in his hit show ‘Atlanta’ and by night the Grammy nominated artist Gambino is out dropping sweet 16s or as of recent, shown in his newest project ‘Awaken, My Love!’, crooning us to sleep. Seeing as this piece will focus on his show ‘Atlanta’ we’ll refer to him as Glover.

Where do we even begin?

First off for the odd few who are still yet to watch the show, here’s a spoiler free summary from

“Two cousins, with different views on art versus commerce, on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene; “Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks,” an ambitious college dropout and his estranged cousin, who suddenly becomes a star.”

What makes the show so good, is its honesty and relatability. It’s about a black man trying to make it in the world and provide for his daughter and baby mother legally. Glover puts Earn in a variety of situations that we as black people have all experienced at least once in our lives, whilst also offering witty commentary on issues like poverty, gun control and police brutality throughout the series. The show is mainly about hip hop, but unlike other black led shows like ‘Empire’ or ‘Power’, there’s a heavy dose of reality involved. Paper boi is a popular rapper but by no means does that mean he immediately has fame and riches. Even in the shows humour, although the show is exceptionally funny, things do sometimes tend to get pretty dark pretty quickly, again throwing in that reality element. The way in which Glover incorporates relevant issues in such a natural way to me is incredible. He writes them in a way that causes the viewers to think about what’s been said and then discuss it themselves after the episode. He’s educating people who don’t know about black issues and inciting discussion whilst also providing a source of entertainment, something I think these other shows don’t do. Don’t get me wrong I love watching Cookie Lyon go full Cookie on ‘Empire’ and wondering what Ghosts next move on ‘Power’ will be but I’m not an extremely wealthy music mogul or an accomplished drug dealer, are you? If you are, then ignore everything I’m saying, but if you’re like me you probably understand where I’m coming from.
I think Atlanta is probably the first black show that I can say I feel represented in and I think his success and the success of his show will open the door for and give confidence to young black writers to step up and get their work out there too. It’s hard but Glover has proven its possible. Also I will give an honourable shoutout to Issa Rae’s ‘Insecure’, that’s another show out there keeping it real. I am almost 100% sure ‘Atlanta’ will become a cult classic in the hip hop community. With season 2 already announced for next year, I can say pretty proudly I’m already excited to see what Glover will come up with next.

Words by Michael Ukaegbu.