The final episode of “Atlanta” will premiere on FX on November 10; it is a very strong and well-made program. And if it no longer feels quite as monumental as it did in its early stages, that also suits it well.
This statement requires clarification, as I do not intend to diminish the efforts of series creator Donald Glover or colleagues such as frequent director Hiro Murai. But in the years since “Atlanta” initially aired in 2016 — and, most significantly, during its extended absence from 2018 until its return this year — the landscape has transformed. In its first two seasons, “Atlanta” was unlike any other television show.
This is now less accurate. And the show’s return, with two new seasons both airing in 2022, felt subdued due in part to its eccentric creativity: At times, the pointillistic depiction of Earn, Glover’s character, and his surroundings left us with little to comprehend. Some of the show’s standalone episodes are truly captivating entertainment. From the present vantage point, it can be difficult to predict how the show will be remembered overall.
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From the beginning, “Atlanta” combines a strong, crisp visual aesthetic with a wacky, anything-is-possible creative sensibility; it features an overarching plot progression with installments that focus on minor details of the story or elements that one might not have expected to be in the story at all. Consider “B.A.N.,” a Season 1 episode told as a half-hour of programming on a fictitious news network, or “Teddy Perkins,” the second season’s depiction of a fame-warped monster who inspires both terror and sympathy.
These were not in Earn’s direct line of sight, but they contributed to his perception of Atlanta, a thriving and diverse city at the heart of America’s cultural sector, as a place where the potential for disaster, abrupt violence, or an expression of anguish lingered in the air.
This also applies to “Barry,” which premiered on HBO in 2018, and “Reservation Dogs,” which premiered on FX in 2021. They are both indebted to “Atlanta.” But “Atlanta” stands out for its desire to be purposely absurd in addition to absurd.
The third season of the show, in which the setting was changed to Europe, provided some very fascinating cross-cultural humor and fresh character dynamics. It also meant that after four years off the air, the show had become about a new set of circumstances about which it had less to say.
I praised the Season 3 debut, “Three Slaps,” for its horrifying depiction of racialized abuse within the foster-care system that unfolds with the logic of a nightmare. However, its position within the greater narrative of “Atlanta” remains unclear to me.
Perhaps “Atlanta” was at its most authentic when functioning as a sort of anthology series, drawing upon the collective nightmares faced by African-Americans in the twenty-first century and reimagining them endlessly. However, this also means that the show may lack a central focus.
The third-to-last episode returning to the B.A.N. network for a faux-documentary about the development of “A Goofy Movie” was a trademark huge swing and leveraged its quirky subject matter to convey a story of startling force. But its placement in the season halted what had finally become forward momentum in Earn and Van’s story (Zazie Beetz). And it wasn’t the first time the program revisited a well with diminishing returns: This season’s portrayal of the Tyler Perry-Esque entertainment business titan Mr. Chocolate felt at times like a rerun of Teddy Perkins, a celebrity devil for whom entitlement is a way of life.
To love “Atlanta” was at times to be frustrated by it, and to love it more and more was to miss it even though it had not yet concluded. This was true during its pause when more tales lied ahead, and throughout 2022, as its cultural significance appeared to have diminished. At the height of its success, “Atlanta” sat at the center of the television discourse and looked fantastic there. Glover and his entire team’s continual leftward progression is a testament to their artistic integrity.
Critiquing its many choices feels ultimately irrelevant. In its brilliance and times of overreaching, “Atlanta” feels more than most series to be exactly what its creators intended to create, despite our inability to know for certain. Its zigzags and zags, discursive ramblings, and deviations from the character who should have held our interest demonstrated the jaggedness of human cognition.
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“Atlanta” demonstrated a fresh way for this art form to appear and feel, even as it infuriated me. “Atlanta” succeeded at stand-alone stories, so even if that accomplishment ends up being a footnote in the history of this moment on television, “Atlanta” excelled at standalone stories.
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What is Going on With Season 4 of Atlanta?
Now, only a few months later, Season 4 is coming to a close, and Glover has confirmed that this will be the final season. Glover, popularly known as Childish Gambino, wrote and starred in the series as Earnest “Earn” Marks. Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, and LaKeith Stanfield also portrayed key characters.
What Does Darius Signify in Atlanta?
Sometimes, Darius’ superior intelligence and peculiar sense of humor can make him appear to be on the autism spectrum. With his sensory abnormalities, coping methods, restlessness, self-medication, and existential perspective on life. Darius redefines the boundaries between madness and brilliance.
Will There Be a Season 5 of Atlanta?
The November 10 finale will mark the end of Atlanta as we know it, but rest assured that the show will go out on its own terms. Glover discussed his choice to discontinue Atlanta’s run during a February event hosted by the Television Critics Association.