When Donald Glover's Atlanta premiered on FX, people just didn't know what to expect. Sure, his Community fan base was curious, but a lot black people wondered exactly what version Atlanta, a city long known for celebrating and creating black culture, Glover was going to present.
Turns out, all the worry was unwarranted. Atlanta, which debuted in September 2016, was both fresh and honest, real and surreal in its vision and execution, and easily the best show on television. The accolades were plenty. Glover's show won three Emmys (and made history in the process) and picked up two Golden Globes. After the season ended, Glover released a psychedelic funk album, Awaken My Love! (that was nominated for five Grammys), picked up a staring role in the Lion King remake alongside Beyoncé and filmed Star Wars (he plays Lando).
Glover's accomplishments following the breakout success Atlanta only added to the anticipation the second season, now subtitled, Robbin' Season.
But any time you create a piece art that surpasses expectations (and gobbles up awards in the process), there's always the question if the next project will live up the hype. The trailer for season 2 was just as trippy as it was for season 1. Donald Glover as the lead character, the perpetually downtrodden and ten distraught Earn Marks, stands stoically in front a rotating and flipping background that highlights various well-known landmarks in Atlanta.
The left–center vision was still there but would the show live up to its first season? Based on the first three episodes, the answer is: Yep. It sure does.
Glover. his brother Stephen Glover, and Stefani Robinson's dream-like yet incredibly earthy, almost melancholy writing is still etched firmly into the episodes (mostly directed by Hiro Murai). The writing steadies the show, just when it sometimes threatens to float completely away into weed-induced surrealism.
It's generic to say that Atlanta pushes creative boundaries, mostly because there still just isn't anything else like it on television. The show navigates the realities being broke and black, genius yet stagnated by the realness systemic oppression, flawlessly. The characters are mostly brilliant if not f-kilter—unafraid to drift f into whatever creative spaces their minds allow, while constantly being reminded the reality their existence, and where exactly they exist.
They live in an Atlanta that has two sides (shout out to late rapper Shawty Lo)—a place that has ranked as #1 in income inequality more than once, yet drives new Hollywood as the go-to place to make movies these days. Atlanta is segregated both financially, racially and culturally, a rift that's explored in Atlanta. It makes for some great television because Glover isn't afraid to be unflinchingly honest.
That said, It's the moments in Atlanta that make the show so good—those small scenes that sometimes seem to come out nowhere but make the show connect like an elaborate dot-to-dot sequence
Last year it was an invisible car. This year, it's an alligator. Last year, it was that jail scene. This year, it's a confrontation with an uncle that's so tangible, you can almost smell the baloney frying in the pan. (Katt Williams' performance just might win him an Emmy too).
All in all, based on the first three episodes, it's safe to say Atlanta is still the best show on television. Here's why.