Selfish But Determined: A Review of Atlanta: Episode One


So Donald Glover finally, after talking about it for so long, released his show, Atlanta. This thing has been in the making for so long that I actually heard at one point that it was going to be a live show featuring only musical guests? Did anyone else hear that? Well anyways it’s a Dramady and the first two episodes came out yesterday so I decided to review them. And since I can’t watch this show all at once, I decided to review the show episode by episode. So I’m going to review episode two tomorrow and then review every other episode the day they come out. But for now episode one, enjoy!

This first episode, I think, is pretty great. It introduces the character’s well, hooks you into the plot, and shows you a little bit of the life that Atlanta natives lead.

In the first episode we follow Earnest “Earn” Marks as he tries to convince his cousin, the rapper Paper Boi, to allow him to be his manager. His cousin is suspicious of Earn’s motives and goes to talk with Earn’s dad about it. The two reveal that Earn dropped out of Princeton and that Earn won’t tell anyone why and that he is a sort of shady figure in there lives.

We also learn that Earn is living with his girlfriend who he has a child with. The whole motivation for his actions in this episode is to provide for his family, in his own sort of selfish way. But even though the couple is living together, his girlfriend is seeing other people. A fact that Earn seems to feel okay about, at least on the surface.

So Earn goes to a radio station that he has connections with and tries to get his cousin’s song played on the air. And as the story develops a picture starts to form of this character that has a mysterious past and isn’t trusted by his family but he is someone who is very intelligent and hardworking.

When his father and cousin are talking about him his father says, “When he wants to do something he does it. On his terms.” And this sort of sums up what we know about the character so far in the show, he is selfish but determined.

Besides Earn we have Paper Boi and Darius. Paper Boi, who’s actual name in the show is Alfred, and despite the fact that he is an artist he seems to be a much more solid, dependable person than Earn. Which also true despite the fact that he shoots a person in the episode.

When Earn first approaches Paper Boi he says, “You coming in here acting like your saving me when really I’m saving you, again.” First of all , with this line, we get to see a little glimpse into the past of their relationship, also it tells us a little bit about Earn’s recklessness. Second it shows us that Paper Boi is a discerning man. He can immediately see right through Earn’s nonsense and that he seems to have a bit more life experience.

The third character they introduce in this show is Darius, Paper Boi’s sidekick. At first Darius just seems to be the comic relief of the show. With lines like, “If you could use a rat as a phone, man that would be genius,” and, “I was just wondering, could I measure your tree?” but as the show goes on you notice he has a sort of playful and introspective nature that shows that he has some emotional depth.

ATLANTA -- “The Big Bang” -- Episode 101 (Airs Tuesday, September 6, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Keith Standfield as Darius, Donald Glover as Earnest Marks, Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles. CR: Guy D'Alema/FX

So as I mentioned in the opening and closing of this first episode we get to see an altercation between Paper Boi, Earn, and Darius and a stranger. At the end of the altercation Paper Boi shoots the stranger. What’s interesting about this scene is that during the altercation Darius mentions he is having déjà vu, he even points out a dog before he sees it. Later on in the episode Earn sees the same dog wandering off into the woods with a strange man he met on the bus. It’s hard to tell what the significance of all of this is, but it is something that pulls you into the show.

The last thing I really dug about this show was it looked so good. While I was watching it I could almost feel the Atlanta heat radiating off of my lab top. Donald Glover and his team did a great job of really capturing the stark southern beauty of Atlanta.

If you enjoyed this please like, follow, and comment. Thanks for reading!


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