Donald Glover’s Atlanta premiered on FX last night, but now its first episode is available (legally!) for chord cutters or those who might have simply missed it; and as the reviews that’ve already come out indicate (amounting to a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), this show isn’t to be missed.
Following Glover’s character Earn — who’s dropped out of Princeton and moved back to Atlanta, where he’s managing his cousin’s nascent rap career, while living with the mother of his child and working at an airport kiosk — the first episode begins at night with what seems like a minor argument about a broken car mirror in a convenience store parking lot, but then a gun is pulled, we’re shown a distant aerial shot of the scene, a gunshot resounds, and then the episode flashes back in time to the lead-up to the opening.
Flavorwire’s own Lara Zarum said that the sort-of-comedy is “simultaneously high-stakes and low-key, the tone abruptly shifting from the abstract to the all-too-real,” and Donald Glover himself spoke at the Television Critics’ Association press tour (as reported in The Hollywood Reporter) about wanting to make a series that shows “people how it feels to be black.” He’d said:
We’re trying to a create a tone in a world where things can happen, where you are allowed to laugh at the hard jokes … but you can also feel real stakes. People can get shot and die and you actually care about these characters… I always want people to be scared, because that’s kind of how it feels to be black.
Watch the episode: