Atlanta (TV series)

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Atlanta
On a black background, the word Atlanta written in white block capital letters, the first and last letter A have extra stylized curls
Also known asAtlanta: Robbin' Season (season 2)
Genre
Created byDonald Glover
Starring
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes35 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Production locations
Cinematography
  • Christian Sprenger
  • Stephen Murphy (season 3)
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time23–35 minutes
Production companies
  • RBA
  • 343 Incorporated
  • MGMT. Entertainment
  • FXP
Distributor
Release
Original networkFX
Picture formatHDTV 720p
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseSeptember 6, 2016 (2016-09-06) –
present (present)

Atlanta is an American comedy-drama television series created by Donald Glover that premiered on September 6, 2016, on FX.[5] The series centers on college dropout and music manager Earnest "Earn" Marks (Glover) and rapper Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) as they navigate a strange, seemingly otherworldly version of the Atlanta rap scene, examining racism, whiteness, existentialism and modern African-American culture through Afro-Surrealism.[6] It also stars Lakeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz.

Atlanta has been acclaimed by critics and received many awards and nominations, including two Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for Glover, and two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. Glover's Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series was the first ever awarded to an African-American, and his work as the series' writer and executive producer has received praise.[7][8]

The series was renewed for a third and fourth season.[9] The third season premiered on March 24, 2022,[10] while the fourth and final season premiered on September 15, 2022.[11][12]

Plot[edit]

The series follows Earn (Donald Glover) during his daily life in Atlanta, Georgia, as he tries to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz), who is also the mother of his daughter Lottie; as well as his parents and his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry), who raps under the stage name "Paper Boi". Having dropped out of Princeton University, Earn has no money and no home and consequently alternates between staying with his parents and his ex-girlfriend. Once he realizes that his cousin is on the verge of stardom, he seeks to reconnect with him in order to improve his life and the life of his daughter.

Although there is an overarching story depicting Earn and Paper Boi's struggles as the latter ascends through the hip hop scene, the series has been noted for its lack of emphasis on multi-episode story arcs, instead using a somewhat surrealistic style of episodic storytelling that Glover has likened to short stories, as have some critics.[13][14][15]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Donald Glover as Earnest "Earn" Marks, a Princeton dropout turned manager trying to get his cousin Paper Boi's rap career off the ground. Earn is cynical and highly intelligent, yet often makes reckless decisions. He struggles with frequent homelessness and poverty throughout the show.
  • Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles, Earn's cousin, an up-and-coming rapper from a low-income community, who exhibits signs of depression and moral dilemma while navigating his newfound fame as "Paper Boi".
  • Lakeith Stanfield as Darius, Alfred's eccentric right-hand man and visionary. He is a first-generation Nigerian-American, and gun enthusiast. He moved from Rivers State to America as a child, and is ethnically Ijaw. Darius is fond of conspiracy theories.
  • Zazie Beetz as Vanessa "Van" Keefer, Earn's on-again-off-again girlfriend and the mother of their daughter Lottie. Van is a former grade school science teacher. She is a biracial Afro-German woman from Helen, Georgia, and fluent in German.

Guest and recurring roles[edit]

Introduced in season 1
  • Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Raleigh Marks, Earn's father and Alfred's uncle.
  • Myra Lucretia Taylor as Gloria Marks, Earn's mother and Alfred's aunt. Also appears in the Robbin' Season episode "FUBU".
  • Harold House Moore as Swiff, a co-worker and friend of Earn's.
  • Griffin Freeman as Dave, an acquaintance of Earn's who works at a prominent radio station and the significant other of Van's childhood friend Christina. Also appears in the Robbin' Season episode "Helen".
  • Brandon Hirsch as Devyonne Johnson, a famous actor who resides in the Atlanta area. Also appears in the Robbin' Season episode "Champagne Papi".
  • Emmett Hunter as Ahmad White, a mysterious, off-kilter being who appears to Earn and airs strange advertisements on television. He appears to dress like a member of the Nation of Islam.
  • Jane Adams as Janice, a publicist who mistakes Earn for a colleague
  • Lloyd as himself, a participant in a charity basketball game with Alfred, Jaleel White and Justin Bieber.
  • Jaleel White as himself, a participant in a charity basketball game with Alfred, Lloyd and Justin Bieber.
  • Cranston Johnson as Deshawn, Alfred's friend and confidante.
  • Lucius Baston as Chris, a shady club promoter who tries to swindle Earn and Alfred.
  • Alano Miller as Franklin Montague, a pretentious talk-show host who dislikes Alfred.
  • Niles Stewart as Antoine Smalls, a young Black man who identifies as a 35-year-old white man named Harrison Booth.
  • Freddie Kuguru as Zan, an obnoxious internet personality who antagonizes Alfred.
  • Austin Crute as a fictionalized Black version of Justin Bieber, who is portrayed as an obnoxious and extremely popular teen pop star.
  • Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff as the Migos, Alfred's drug suppliers.
Introduced in season 2
  • Khris Davis as Tracy, Alfred's recently paroled friend who is currently staying on their couch. He and Earn often clash. Tracy beats Earn in a fight leaving the latter bruised and in a daze in "North of the Border".
  • RJ Walker as Clark County, an egotistical, commercialized rapper that Alfred befriends. Darius and Earn view him as an industry plant. Some fans and critics believe him to be based on Chance the Rapper, a frequent collaborator of Glover’s.[16][17]
  • Matthew Barnes as Lucas, Clark's well-connected manager.
  • Katt Williams as Willie, Alfred and Earn's uncle who has a run-in with the cops. He owns an alligator named Coach, which is the reason for his nickname, "Alligator Man".
  • Robert Powell III as Bibby, Alfred's flakey barber.
  • Derrick J. Haywood as Benny Hope, a reclusive pianist who Darius attempts to buy a piano from. His brother, Teddy Perkins, was the main antagonist of his titular episode and was played by Donald Glover himself in whiteface.
  • Kevin Waterman as Florida Man, a sinister entity, referred to by Darius as an “Alt-right Johnny Appleseed,” who commits a variety of strange crimes in Florida as part of a plot to keep Black voters out.
  • Danielle Deadwyler as Tami, Van’s friend
  • Gail Bean as Nadine, a naïve friend of Van’s who forms a brief connection with Darius
  • Adriyan Rae as Candice, Van’s self-absorbed influencer friend. Rae reprises the role in the season 3 finale "Tarrare".
  • Carlos Guerrero as Drake’s abuelo
  • Michael Vick as himself, an ex-NFL quarterback who challenges club-goers in "Money Bag Shawty" to foot races against himself.
  • Jerusha Cavazos as Violet, an unstable college girl who has an obsessive crush on Alfred.
  • Tim Johnson as Prescott, a frat boy with a fondness for hazing, with whom the characters cross paths. He is a fan of Alfred's and an avid fan of trap music.
Introduced in season 3
  • Christopher Farrar as Loquareeous, a Black foster child who experiences cascading misfortunes, loosely based on Devonte Hart.
  • Jamie Neumann as Gayle, one of Loquareeous’ adopted white mothers, loosely based on Jennifer Hart.
  • Laura Dreyfuss as Amber, one of Loquareeous’ adopted white mothers, loosely based on Sarah Hart.
  • Elisa van Riessen as the Death Doula, an enigmatic Dutch woman hired to help an elderly Tupac Shakur pass away.
  • Matteo Simoni as Dirk, the owner of an Amsterdam club
  • Daniel Fathers as Fernando, a London billionaire mogul
  • Patrick Kennedy as Will, an investor and friend of Fernando.
  • Hugh Coles as Socks, an obnoxious British leftist burdened by white guilt. He integrates himself into the group, but appears to have a chaotic agenda.
  • Jai Paul as himself, a partygoer
  • Tobias Segal as Earnest Marks / E / Boat Man, a shamanistic figure who is initially shown to appear in Earn's dreams. The final moments of season 3 reveal that he is indeed a real person.
  • Justin Bartha as Marshall Johnson, an upper-middle-class white man whose ancestors owned slaves, the descendants of whom begin to demand personal reparations from him.
  • Samuel Blenkin as Wiley, a fan of Alfred’s who Socks accuses of stealing Al’s phone. It is strongly hinted that he is a ghost.
  • Chet Hanks as Curtis, a white Tribeca native that speaks with a Trinbagonian accent. The character is a reference to Hank’s much-lampooned real life use of patois.[18]
  • Liam Neeson as himself, an actor at a club in Amsterdam. His character references the actor's real-life controversy surrounding comments he made in 2019.[19]
  • Ava Grey as Lorraine, an Amsterdam resident with a tendency to tell harsh truths who crosses paths with Alfred. It is strongly hinted that she is a manifestation of Al’s late mother, also named Lorraine.
  • Tyriq Withers as Aaron, a biracial high school senior passing as white
  • George Wallace as Greg, one of Robert S. Lee's advisors
  • Kevin Samuels as Robert S. Lee, a Black entrepreneur offering to pay the tuition of any high school student who can prove their Blackness.
  • Alexander Skarsgård as himself, a sexually-depraved actor with a penchant for cannibalism.
  • Shanice Castro as Shanice, Candice’s friend who accompanies her to Paris.
  • Xosha Roquemore as Xosha, Candice’s friend who accompanies her to Paris.
Introduced in season 4
  • Brooke Bloom as Lisa Mahn, an airline worker and aspiring writer who becomes the target of Earn’s spite after wronging him.
  • Sullivan Jones as Dr. Tillman, Earn’s therapist. Jones is also the voice that says “FX presents Atlanta” before each episode.

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110September 6, 2016 (2016-09-06)November 1, 2016 (2016-11-01)
211March 1, 2018 (2018-03-01)May 10, 2018 (2018-05-10)
310March 24, 2022 (2022-03-24)May 19, 2022 (2022-05-19)
410[20]September 15, 2022 (2022-09-15)November 10, 2022 (2022-11-10)[20]

Production[edit]

FX first began developing the show in August 2013,[21] and then the pilot was ordered to series by FX Networks in December 2014.[22] It was directed by Hiro Murai and shot in Atlanta.[23] It got picked up to series with a 10-episode order in October 2015.[24] Glover, who grew up in Atlanta and also works as a musician, stated that "the city influenced the tone of the show".[25]

The series is also notable for having an all-Black writing staff, which is virtually unheard of in American television. The writer's room consists of Glover himself, his brother Stephen Glover, and members of his rap collective 'Royalty' including Fam Udeorji (Glover's manager), Ibra Ake (Glover's longtime photographer), and Jamal Olori. Stefani Robinson, a writer for Man Seeking Woman, and Taofik Kolade round out the writer's room.[26][27] During an interview with The New Yorker, Glover stated the characters smoke cannabis because "they have PTSD — every Black person does".[28] In January 2017, the series was renewed for a second season; however, FX announced the series would not return until 2018 due to Glover's busy production schedule.[29] Glover revealed that the second season takes inspiration from Tiny Toon Adventures, specifically How I Spent My Vacation.[30]

The series was renewed for a third season in June 2018, which was originally planned for a 2019 premiere,[31] but was delayed due to scheduling conflicts.[32] In August 2019, FX renewed the series for a fourth season and announced that the third and fourth seasons would begin filming in early 2020, with each season consisting of eight episodes.[33] In January 2020, FX announced that the third season's episode count was increased to 10 episodes, and that both seasons were planned to air in 2021–season 3 in January and season 4 later that year.[9] Both seasons were also planned to be shot together and that one of the seasons would be filmed outside the United States.[9] However, production was postponed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[34] In September 2020, it was reported that the third season would not be able to make the January 2021 premiere date that was originally planned.[35] Filming for the third and fourth seasons began in early April 2021, in London, with additional filming in Amsterdam and Paris.[36][37] By August 2021, filming for the third season was completed and production began on the fourth season in Atlanta, and it was confirmed that the third season would premiere in early 2022.[38] The third season premiered with two episodes on March 24, 2022.[10]

By February 2022, both seasons three and four had completed filming, and it was announced that the fourth would be the final season.[11]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Critical response of Atlanta
SeasonRotten TomatoesMetacritic
197% (8.6/10 average rating) (123 reviews)[39]90 (36 reviews)[40]
298% (9.1/10 average rating) (200 reviews)[41]97 (28 reviews)[42]
397% (8.8/10 average rating) (130 reviews)[43]93 (24 reviews)[44]
494% (9.0/10 average rating) (58 reviews)[45]82 (10 reviews)[46]

Atlanta has received widespread acclaim from television critics. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the first season an approval rating of 97% based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Ambitious and refreshing, Atlanta offers a unique vehicle for star and series creator Donald Glover's eccentric brand of humor—as well as a number of timely, trenchant observations."[39] On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 90 out of 100, based on reviews from 36 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[40]

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle gave it a highly positive review, writing: "The scripts for the four episodes made available to critics are as richly nuanced as anything you'll see on TV or, to be sure, in a movie theater. You will not only know these characters after only one episode, you'll be hooked on them, as well. In so many areas, Atlanta sets the bar exceptionally high."[47] Sonia Saraiya of Variety also praised the series, declaring it a "finished, cinematic, and beautiful production that may be one of the best new shows of the fall."[48]

The second season received further critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 98%, based on 200 reviews, with an average rating of 9.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Donald Glover continues to subvert expectations with a sophomore season of Atlanta that proves as excellent as it is eccentric."[41] On Metacritic, the second season has a score of 97 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[42]

In 2019, Atlanta was ranked 10th on The Guardian's list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century.[49] The Writers Guild Foundation listed the season 1 episode "Streets on Lock" as having one of the best scripts of 2010s film and television, writing, "The story features fully realized supporting players and miscreants, but right when we start laughing, everything takes a sour turn, causing us to reflect on what we’re really laughing at".[50]

The third season has a score of 93 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 24 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[44] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 97%, based on 130 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Atlanta takes Paper Boi and his entourage out of Georgia, but this inspired third season proves that the more things change, the more they stay weird."[43]

The fourth season has a score of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 10 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[46] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 94%, based on 58 reviews, with an average rating of 9.0/10."[45]

In 2022, Rolling Stone ranked Atlanta as the ninth-greatest TV show of all time.[51]

Accolades[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Award Category Nominees Result Ref.
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 Television Programs Atlanta Won [52]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Series Nominated [53]
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "B.A.N.") Nominated [54]
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Atlanta Won [55]
Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Donald Glover Won
Gotham Independent Film Awards Breakthrough Series – Long Form Atlanta Won [56]
MTV Movie & TV Awards Show of the Year Atlanta Nominated [57]
Best Actor in a Show Donald Glover Nominated
Best Duo Brian Tyree Henry and LaKeith Stanfield Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [58]
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series Won
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Peabody Awards Area of Excellence Atlanta Won [59]
People's Choice Awards Favorite Cable TV Comedy Nominated [60]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [61]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Won
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "B.A.N.") Won
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "B.A.N.") Nominated
Stephen Glover (for "Streets on Lock") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Alexa L. Fogel, Tara Feldstein Bennett, and Chase Paris Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Episodic Television, Comedy Donald Glover, Dianne McGunigle, Paul Simms, Hiro Murai, and Alex Orr Won [62]
Television Critics Association Awards Program of the Year Atlanta Nominated [63]
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Won
Outstanding New Program Nominated
Individual Achievement in Comedy Donald Glover Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Stefani Robinson, and Paul Simms Won [64]
New Series Won
Episodic Comedy Stephen Glover (for "Streets on Lock") Nominated

Season 2[edit]

Award Category Nominees Result Ref.
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Comedy Series for Commercial Television Isaac Hagy (for "Alligator Man") Nominated [65]
Kyle Reiter (for "Teddy Perkins") Won
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 TV Programs of the Year Atlanta Won [66]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Series Nominated [67]
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Donald Glover Nominated [68]
People's Choice Awards The Comedy TV Star of 2018 Donald Glover Nominated [69]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [70]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Brian Tyree Henry Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Zazie Beetz Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "FUBU") Nominated
Hiro Murai (for "Teddy Perkins") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "Alligator Man") Nominated
Stefani Robinson (for "Barbershop") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Alexa L. Fogel, Tara Feldstein Bennett, and Chase Paris Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) Christian Sprenger (for "Teddy Perkins") Won
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Katt Williams (for "Alligator Man") Won
Outstanding Music Supervision Jen Malone and Fam Udeorji (for "Alligator Man") Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour or Less) Timothy O'Brien, Taylor Mosbey, and Aimee Athnos (for "Teddy Perkins") Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series Isaac Hagy (for "Alligator Man") Nominated
Kyle Reiter (for "Teddy Perkins") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation Trevor Gates, Jason Dotts, David Barbee, Jordan McClain, Tara Blume, and Matt Salib (for "Teddy Perkins") Won
Satellite Awards Best Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [71]
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Khris Davis, Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, and Lakeith Stanfield Nominated [72]
Television Critics Association Awards Program of the Year Atlanta Nominated [73]
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Individual Achievement in Comedy Donald Glover Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Ibra Ake, Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Taofik Kolade, Jamal Olori, Stefani Robinson, and Paul Simms Nominated [74]

Season 3[edit]

Award Category Nominees Result Ref.
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Cable Series, Comedy Atlanta Nominated [75]
Best Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Donald Glover Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Brian Tyree Henry Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Zazie Beetz Nominated
Best Directing in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Hiro Murai (for "New Jazz") Nominated
Best Writing in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Donald Glover (for "Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga") Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated [76]
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Hiro Murai (for "New Jazz") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) Christian Sprenger (for "Three Slaps") Won
Set Decorators Society of America Awards Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Half-Hour Single-Camera Series Lisbeth Ayala, Timothy David O'Brien, and Jonathan Paul Green Nominated [77]
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Atlanta Nominated [78]

International broadcast[edit]

The first season was broadcast in the UK on BBC Two, from May 13, 2018, to June 17, 2018.[79]

Home media[edit]

The Complete First Season was released on DVD in Region 1 on March 6, 2018,[80] and The Complete Second Season (Robbin' Season) was released on DVD on December 17, 2019.[81]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]