When people say they’re from Atlanta, they really mean they’re from the suburbs “Outside the Perimeter” (OTP). The real city is “Inside the Perimeter” (ITP). Surprisingly, only 400,000 people live ITP and over 5 million live OTP; it’s a sprawl.
Most of the people OTP live on another planet and often forget about the diversity and culture inside I-285. The new FX show, Atlanta, takes audiences to the southeast’s biggest city then ITP for a story imagined by actor, writer, rapper, and Atlanta native Donald Glover. College dropout (Earn), played by Glover, on his journey to a better life through managing his cousin’s (Albert) rap career. The simple story is one of the show’s strongest characteristics because it doesn’t waste time fleshing out complex plot lines and has plenty of room for interesting characters and scenarios.
The show authentically captures the aesthetic and feel of urban Atlanta neighborhoods. For those who don’t know the city, it looks as if it were dropped into a forest then surrounded by omnipresent, twisting highways. The beautiful, stylistic cinematography makes for picturesque shots and gorgeous color.
Now what about the music? Earn’s cousin Albert, also known by his hip-hop persona Paperboi, stirred up some hype in the underground rap scene with his track also titled Paperboi. Earn tries to prove himself capable of working as Albert’s manager before the launch of Paperboi’s mixtape. The song itself is unimpressive and sounds like any track off a mixtape handed out by some guy outside the CNN center, but it works really well in the context of the show. People in Atlanta like bass-bumping, bangers designed for suped-up car stereos because Atlantans spend so much of their lives behind the wheel.
Found on the ground, outside the CNN center, during a hip-hop festival
Overall, I was really satisfied with the Atlanta pilot. The characters are compelling and I want to know about how the show expands upon Earn’s relationship with his parents, his daughter, and how his symbolic hallucinations pan out. Each episode will likely provide a perspective on current social issues, such as usage of of the “N” word in the first episode, but they won’t distract from the main focus of the quest for success and to, of course, get rich.
Watch the full first episode for free on youtube here.