THB #170b: Oops... Atlanta...
I don’t quite know how Atlanta fell out of the loooong list of great series, limited and ongoing. I mentioned it a few times, but it should have been in the March section. A reader noted the dumb error. So here it is as a special addition.
Atlanta is in its third season from Donald Glover and this season, he has taken the show out of Atlanta and into Europe to some remarkable results. There are no fewer than 4 episodes this season that go into the time capsule, brilliant and forever, in or out of context.
The Old Man & The Tree takes the crew to an Amsterdam house party that pushes each of them in different ways, taking on money, race, internationalism, the art world and more.
The Big Paycheck imagines an America in which reparations for slavery finally occur, from the perspective of a nice white guy. (The image is his estranged wife, who now refuses to have anything to do with him because his whiteness is a fiscal liability.) It’s breathtaking, playing it straight and also managing to be very funny.
Trini 2 De Bone is another episode centered on white people, in this case wealthy people whose long-standing nanny of color has passed away. They engage the woman’s family, strangers in a strange land. But their young son, who is very quiet, is deeply connected to this woman who raised him and her culture. The funeral goes wild (“This… is how we sad”) and these white people find themselves crawling around (emotionally) in their disconnected ignorance. The balance of subtle and extreme… the Glover signature (albeit written by Jordan Temple).
Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga is the one that Glover, in his salty 25 word synopsis, calls Emmy bait, is another genius idea. A highly successful alumni of Stonewall Jackson High decides to give every senior in the high school a full ride to college… but only for the black kids. Kids who are mixed have to face a 3-person committee on whether they qualify as black based on wild “black culture” questions that would be considered racist these days in any other context.
Yes, 3 of my 4 favorite episodes are outside of the core group of characters. But I love all the Amsterdam stuff with the familiar foursome too. There is a great Zazie Beetz-focused episode to close the season.
It’s my favorite season of Atlanta because the variety is wild and Paper Boi with money - better/worse - is a fresh angle on the first 2 seasons. And the hanging around is still glorious.
There have been a number performers recently who have turned their focus to how their lives have changed with success. Glover manages to do this without making it all about him. He thinks big and one has to love him for that.
Until later today, when another newsletter on Disney is coming…