S1: Meditative, reflective, hilarious, dramatic, honest, low-key – great writing balances a lot, even if the show is not the beast the hype suggests
I came to this show off the back of a lot of praise for it from critics and viewers; despite this I came in as open as I could. At first there was a certain amount of disappointment to find it wasn't funnier, punchier, or more of what I expected (whatever that was) but the show quickly won me round. Although it is billed as a comedy and as must- see TV, Atlanta is a much smaller product that deserves to be seen by many people, but always without a lot of fanfare. The plot synopsis is just a loose frame of a narrative that runs across the season, but mostly nothing has consequences and often we do not know the outcome of anything.
I can understand this being frustrating, and being honest I wasn't totally a fan of the way it did that, but the strength of the show mostly covers for this aspect. That strength is an approach much more in keeping with the episodic nature of the show Louie, except it is not quite so cleanly done in that way as it is there. The writing makes it work by balancing stereotype, with character revelations/judgements on situations, with drama, with some very big laughs. It is not a show that knocked me out, but it is one that I found quite beguiling and easy to watch and meet on its terms.
The characters convince, the interactions feel natural (even in unnatural situations) and there is an informed honesty to a lot of it – good or bad. I'm pleasantly surprised that the show has done as well as it has – it is a very different beast that you might expect if you were coming from the Community or rapping side of Glover. Season 2 will be a long way off given how many big roles he has at the moment, but when it comes I hope it can be as turned down and effective as this first season.
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