During the conclusion of ATLANTA’s inaugural season, the show’s protagonist maneuvered through the city’s dimly lit streets as Outkast’s “Elevators” served as the backdrop. This particular song was perfect for the moment, because the lyrics that Andre and Big Boi wrote were about their past struggles, the journey of life and hope for the future – one that rang a tune for Earn, Paper Boi, and Darius. That final scene was symbolic of the transition that Earn (Donald Glover), was about to experience; and the uncertainty of the things to come. The highly-anticipated premiere of ATLANTA’s sophomore run happens tonight, and it has easily become one of our generation’s most important television series.
Throughout life, especially as a young black male, we experience moments of change; some of which are more drastic than others. The first day of a new school, puberty, going off to college, etc… but society teaches us that after a certain age, our lives should maintain some level of stability. However, many of us know that the previous sentence could not be further from the truth. After the age of 21 is when most of life’s trials and tribulations occur. I believe this is the source of the popularity for shows such as Insecure, Girls and Master of None. Instead of being the typical “coming-of-age” story about an adolescent trying to find their place in the world; ATLANTA focuses on the difficulties of being a young adult, dealing with the financial and emotional stress that comes with family, and that sense of urgency as you advance in age.
The second verse on “Elevators” captured the feeling of ATLANTA’s almost two-year hiatus. Big Boi raps about the nostalgia of growing up in the city. Even though it was a struggle, it created lasting memories and it helped him to appreciate success that much more. The freedom that he felt has a boy can be linked to the creative freedom that Donald Glover had in 2016. For many, ATLANTA’s first season had no expectation. It gave all parties involved the opportunity to create without any additional pressure from its audience or the media. Pressure can have either a positive or negative effect, depending on the individual. It can bust pipes, or make diamonds… only time will tell the affect that it will have on FX’s breakout series.
A wise man once told me that potential was the yardstick of failure.
Donald Glover and ATLANTA received acclaim from its viewers as well as its critics. The show won awards from the AFI, Critic’s Choice, the Golden Globes and even a couple of Primetime Emmys; so with its standard being heightened, its room for error has now decreased. I believe that the show’s group of writers and its cast are fully capable of exceeding expectations, but the “sophomore slump” can happen to anyone, or anything for that matter. The dichotomy between tonight’s premiere and ATLANTA’s storyline go hand and and hand because success is something that both Earnest Marks and Donald Glover are striving to achieve.
This new renaissance of shows isn’t only good for television, it’s good for our culture in general. Gone are the days when the heads of the establishment could lean on the fact that content produced, directed or acted by people of color wouldn’t be a priority because “our stories don’t translate to other races, genders or ethnicities.” Insecure, Master of None, The Chi and ATLANTA are all created and carried out by minorities; it is a testament to that fact that in the end, we all really aren’t that different.
Peace and love,