FX Presents, Atlanta.
When I first saw that bumper introduced before the show began, I know we were in for something we weren’t used to. I mean you take it back to the spots that were popping up on social media with the characters walking backwards, and they looked dumb as hell, I was like, eh, Imma still try it out, but I don’t know sun, this might be some left field silly shit.
I love when I’m wrong sometimes! From episode 1, the tone of the series was set with Earn, the Princeton dropout that’s trying to figure out his next moves in order to take care of his daughter and possibly his daughter mom Van.
You have Alfred, otherwise known by his rap name, Paper Boi, an up and coming rapper that’s buzzing around Atlanta right now, who wants to rap, get paid, smoke his weed, and be left the hell alone. I respect that!
Then you have my favorite character of the show, Darius, the hood philosopher, who comes off as a tweaker almost, but always has these moments of clairvoyance where even if it goes over everyone’s head, to him, he totally understands what’s going on. More on Darius later.
I’m not gonna recap every episode and major plot point, because that’s doing too much, but I felt it was bout time to express just how dope this show is on a story level, and how its slowly revealing to networks just how much more authentic the narratives of Black characters become when you hire a predominantly Black writing staff. Something Fox’s Empire can learn from.
This week, the premiered the episode B.A.N, which parodies BET and took nigga shit to a whole new level as world famous Swisher Sweets debuted their first luxury line of commercials showing us just how to really smoke a fine quality cigar. If you thought that was dope, the Mickey’s commercial, set us in a masquerade party where bartenders serve us the fine malt liquor in champagne flutes, letting us that we’ve been drinking it wrong the whole time.
The recurring Dodge commercial is absolutely nuts and sandwiches itself between a Tavis Smiley public access style talk show that features a Black poindexter named Montague, who’s brought on a feminist academic who argues on behalf of Trans-Equally, and Paper Boi, who mistakenly thinks that he’s somehow getting paid for his appearance on the show. The episode highlights the “trans” issue in the Black community and opens the doors for us to see a Black man stand firm on his beliefs bringing into question, the fact that public opinion is leading to more scrutiny than to change.
The show segues into a segment featuring a young man named Antoine who’s preparing to undergo the world’s first Trans-Racial surgery which would make him the 30 year old white man named Harrison, he always knew and believed he was despite being born into a Black body and only being a teenager.
At the end of the episode, the Antoine surprises the audience when he’s asked if homophobia from Hip Hop and the Black community is part of the reason its so hard for him to find acceptance, to which he’s like HELL NO! “A man wanting to change himself into a woman is unnatural!” Alfred, who was getting pummeled throughout the episode can’t help but erupt in laughter as Montague is forced to end the show abruptly.
For the first 5 episodes, I didn’t understand where the show was headed, and quite frankly, I still don’t, but B.A.N took the show to the next level.
From a filmmaker’s perspective, the direction, cinematography, and the writing is on par with elite TV programs out right now, and Donald deserves a lot of respect and credit for that. I think its amazing how he also employs a living title credit that evolves each episode to fit into the narrative, despite the traditional cold open cliff hanger, then cut to title sequence motif that dominates the TV format.
I learned that Glover said the show was “Twin Peaks for rappers,” but I’m curious to know if somebody on staff or Donald watched Movie 43 or Kentucky Fried Movie and was like, “Sun, we gotta do something like this in one of our episodes!” Nonetheless, they pushed the normal, everyday story, to the right and allowed for the characters to deal with and challenge the days prevailing ideas. I hope they stay in this lane, and get their characters on a path toward some obtainable future, otherwise I feel the show wont have very many legs to stand on after a few seasons. Til then, the show has been green-lit for a follow up season, and Tuesday nights are now one of my favorite days of the week.