The brilliance of “Atlanta”


courtesy of FX

“Atlanta” aired its final episode on November 10, 2022, marking an end to one of the greatest shows on television. Donald Glover created a series that blended surrealism with emotional value; with the help of creative minds such as Hiro Murai and Stephen Glover, they told a unique story that depicts success in the rap industry and America as a whole.

Ivan Mendoza, Reporter

Donald Glover always presented himself as a versatile creator with numerous talents. Best known by his musical status as “Childish Gambino”, Glover also showcases himself as a great writer, an actor and most importantly, a director. In 2016 he created the FX show “Atlanta”, an award-winning program that creatively followed Alfred Miles’ rise to stardom as “Paper Boi” with his cousin-manager Earn by his side. Along with its main plot line, “Atlanta” perfectly blends elements of surrealism with poignant social commentary. From bizarre characters such as “Black Justin Bieber” and “Teddy Perkins”, to its episodes about white saviors and blackface, the Emmy-winning show always sparked important discussions among its viewers. 

Viewers immerse themselves once again in the bizarre world curated by Glover in the Season 4 premiere titled “The Most Atlanta”. The episode opens up with Darius, played by LaKeith Stanfield, as he visits a Target to return an air fryer while people loot the store and a white woman in a wheelchair barricades the exit. As Darius calmly walks out of the store and Chief Keef plays in the background, the scene sets the tone for the final season perfectly, as “Atlanta” remains known for its sheer unpredictability and absurdity. In addition to that, the season premiere also paid homage to the late “MF DOOM”, a rapper revered by critics for his intricate wordplay, as the episode follows Paper Boi coming to terms with the death of the fictional rapper “Blue Blood”.

The infamous show always layered its episodes with dark comedy, and “Crank Dat Killer” highlights the humorous creativity of “Atlanta”. In the sixth episode, Paper Boi fears for his life as a serial killer roams the streets, as the killer targets people who did “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” dance videos. After he seeks advice from Soulja Boy himself and goes to the mall in an attempt to escape the killer, an unnamed person begins to shoot at him. Because Georgia allows concealed carry of firearms without a license, this results in a chaotic shootout where old people and moms with baby strollers shoot bullets in every direction. While the rapper survives a near-death experience, Darius and Earn contemplate their masculinity as they come across a man who sells his shoes for free, but he wants them to kiss each other.

While “Atlanta” certainly excels in its humor, the show remains a masterpiece for its showcasing of vulnerability. In the following episode “Snipe Hunt”, Director Hiro Murai and writer Francesca Sloane create an emotional story between Earn and Vanessa, played by Zazie Beetz. Throughout the series, the two struggled with their relationship as Vanessa always felt like an accessory while Earn tried his best to provide for their family but acted selfish regarding Vanessa’s feelings. This beautifully shot episode, powerfully reveals how the characters still find love and reconciliation with one another, despite their previous flaws and quarrels. 

“I don’t wanna find someone new, not because it isn’t time-consuming and, you know, annoying, which it is. It’s because I just want to do this with you. I just want to do this with you,” Earn said

The series finale took several viewers by surprise, but “It Was All A Dream” still felt like the perfect closure to the story Glover created. Opening up with Darius as he takes himself to a sensory deprivation tank, Alfred, Earn and Vanessa all attend a black-owned sushi restaurant. Darius begins to see surreal visions of his brother and old friends, and he finds it difficult to distinguish fiction from reality. At the climax of the episode, he takes reality for granted and picks up his friends from the sushi restaurant in a pink Maserati he stole from a valet. Darius nonchalantly tells his friends he stole the car because he thinks he will just wake up from the dream, but they tell him that he left the tank a while ago. As cop sirens fade into background noise, the series comes to an end with Darius staring straight at the camera, happy with his current life regardless if it functions in fiction or reality. 

“I love this season! It’s one of my favorites for sure, especially “The Goof Who Sat By The Door”. I think it really brings all of Donald’s creative side out, and “Atlanta” is unique because you never know what to expect from him. I would definitely recommend this show to music lovers or people who like great TV in general,” sophomore Neneh Bah said. 

In its 6-year run on television, “Atlanta” maintained a consistent storyline that dealt with flawed characters and abnormal settings. The first two seasons represented their come-ups as Paper Boi made a name for himself in the industry while Earn managed him in the midst of poverty. Although the third season took a different approach with its anthology episodes on race and the episodes taking place in European cities, it highlighted how their hard work finally paid off. In the fourth and final season, the writers, directors and actors made ten episodes where audiences laughed and cried as the series finally came to a close. “Atlanta” cements itself as a brilliant series with unique perspectives, deserving of all the praise it has accumulated.


The Chant’s Rating: A+