his milk any good?” asks Darius (Lakeith Stanfield), a stoner, sniffing from a carton at a refrigerator door. “What you using it for?” asks his stoned rapper friend Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) – as if there were a range of possible answers. “Drinking,” replies Darius, poker-faced. “Yeah, no,” says Paper Boi. “Don’t use it to drink.”
Atlanta, a half-hour FX comedy series now showing on SBS, comes from the mind of actor-rapper-comedianproducer-singer-songwriter Donald Glover: he created, wrote, produced and stars in this pleasantly ambling, at times pleasantly disjointed, here and there oddly paced series. It is languid and warm and funny, and often moving. The show is peppered with exchanges like the above: some of them are obvious, in keeping with the current trend towards observational, low-key, lo-fi humour, but even at their most elliptical, as little comic riffs, they sparkle.
Glover is Earnest (“Earn”) Marks, a low-key, lo-fi human himself. Reading his surface, you’d call him aimless. But beneath that there’s something else going on: he’s trying to find a future, even though he doesn’t even seem all that good at the present. He wanders around Atlanta. He has a daughter, a toddler, with his ex, Van (Zazie Beetz). Sometimes Earn and Van still sleep together, though she’s dating someone else, or, rather, going on dates. Earn himself is largely homeless – or, rather, doing a fair amount of couch surfing. (He visits his parents. They’re not so welcoming, and don’t even invite him into the house.)
Paper Boi, who is Earn’s cousin, is just beginning to gain some local notoriety as a rapper. Earn offers to be his manager, explaining that he’ll need help if he’s to stand