Review: FX’s ‘Atlanta’ keeps it surreal for Season 2
Off-beat doesn’t begin to describe “Atlanta,” FX’s surreal comic-drama about life in the ATL.
The show’s first season was characterized by abrupt shifts in tone and format, and often bizarre riffs on pop culture and hip-hop life. One episode featured Justin Bieber portrayed by a black actor, another abandoned the show’s world altogether and unfolded in the style of a PBS-style talk show, complete with its own in-show commercials. It was a bold, unstructured, daring ride, and viewers weren’t sure what corners it would turn next.
That carries over for Season 2, dubbed “Robbin’ Season,” which premieres Thursday. Principals Earn (Emmy winner Donald Glover, also the series’ creator), his rapper cousin Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) and their stoic stoner friend Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) are back, still facing various struggles in their day-to-day lives. At the opening of the season’s second episode, Paper Boi is robbed at gunpoint by his weed dealer, who’s deeply apologetic even as he points a gun at his chest.
“I appreciate you, man,” he tells Paper Boi, as he drives away with all of his cash.
The season opener features Katt Williams as a Earn’s alligator-owning Uncle Willy, who’s caught in the middle of a particularly lackadaisical stand-off with police. Episode 3 unfolds around Earn’s struggles to spend a $100 bill, a sly riff on racism, and has the comic beats of a “Seinfeld” episode.
Glover has conceptualized “Atlanta” so that he can do with it whatever he wants; he’s not bound by traditional sitcom rules or limitations. That’s the fun of it. It’s his ride, and where he goes is anyone’s guess. But it will be worth the trip.
‘Atlanta: Robbin’ Season’
Premieres at 10 p.m. Thursday on FX