The whole follow-your-dreams thing
Luke Davies on Atlanta
a chance of breaking out any wider. “You’re older,” Earn tells him. “You have no real fan base. You’re not white and/or selling sex.” Paper Boi seems resistant to the idea of being managed – especially by his cousin. But when Earn succeeds in getting Paper Boi’s single played on an influential radio station, the partnership becomes a little less informal.
Darius, who could best be described as Paper Boi’s sidekick, floats at the edges of scenes. But Stanfield, who played Snoop Dogg to a tee in F Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton
(2015), is compelling, and comically deft, in his quiet, loopy weirdness. As the season progresses he becomes more and more endearing – at times a scene-stealer.
It’s 28 years since Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David created their own show about, well, nothing really. But Seinfeld
was tightly structured, each episode wound like a coiled spring. Seinfeld was circular – nothing happens, nothing matters, no one goes deep and no one gets hurt, it said. We never wanted Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer to change; they were simply so formed, and the pleasure was in watching those forms collide, over and over, in the specific context of each storyline.
Atlanta is not about nothing – not in that way. It is picaresque and open-ended. The characters grow and develop, seeking something, at times, beyond a Seinfeldian self-interest. The show has an apparent haphazardness and slightness that tells you it’s not to be taken all that seriously. And yet beneath the limpid, gentle surface hides a moral complexity. Different episodes hit different thematic beats: broadly, as social commentary, about race and culture; more specifically, in the character arcs, about responsibility and integrity.