This post is an extension of a review I wrote for Bring Me In.
REVIEW & ANALYSIS: ATLANTA (TV SHOW) FROM A VISUAL STORYTELLER’S PERSPECTIVE
I do not often sit down, relax and watch TV because I find myself working at the same time however last autumn, the world was introduced to Atlanta – Donald Glover’s (aka Childish Gambino for those who only him through his Hip-Hop persona,) new show and it grabbed my full attention.
I have been a fan of Glover since Community where he portrayed a fake cool but ultimately geeky and childish character that I loved. The show itself was a Comedy with very eccentric plots and storylines but Atlanta is a whole different type of project.
Glover, alongside Hiro Murai are the main directors so far and their visual language (or style) is exquisite. Murai has worked with Glover before on some of his music videos in the past so this collaboration obviously has come from familiarity and understanding; they work well together.
The show of course is set in Atlanta and essentially is just a sample of what it is like living there for Earn (Glover’s character) and other residents with a side of discrete ‘fantasy’ if I can call it that.
This is an illustration I did because I love the show so much. Many may not even know that every single detail in most of my work is important and there is always a concept present further than the obvious. In this piece ‘Somewhat Childish’, his body is facing away from ‘camera’ because one of the show’s promos was a sequence of some of the main characters moving backwards but the visual was played forwards like Pharcyde’s music 1995 video ‘Drop’.
(Also, he is holding a cookie because Darius (another one of the characters) offered him one when he and Earn first met.)
I tend to prefer Thriller as my favourite genre but I also enjoy being amused when it is clever. What I love most about this show is its subtle comedy. Earn is in no way supposed to be funny however his actions and reactions are. There are countless scenes and little moments that have provided the biggest entertainment without being attention seeking. Not every scenario is explained and some of the humour verges on ridiculous but the show executes it confidently.
Prior to watching Atlanta, I always imagined the actual place to always be hot thus the imagery to be warm and bright. This show however uses more of a cool approach with sometimes dim but strong colour grading. The shots are supported by the bold atmosphere because the location is a character itself. I have noticed frequent medium shots that allow viewers to concentrate on what we are supposed to, as well as catch a glimpse of other intended actions in the background.
These are just a few of the iconic and hilarious shots on this show.
1. I wouldn’t even know where to begin explaining this scene but is was FUNNY.
2. Try and figure out what he is doing.
3. Easy to miss.
4. Absolute comedy.
The whole concept is to some extent dramatized but all together truthful from Glover/Earn’s perspective. The majority of the show is written by him so it includes his experiences, and observations. He has managed to translate that into impressive dialogue that is refreshing. Furthermore, being a British viewer or just a non-Atlanta resident, you might not understand all of the lingo but I think that is allowed deliberately. The accent can be heavy and untouched because I don’t think the intention was to cater to everyone’s language comprehension.
At present, there are only a handful of twenty or so minute episodes released so it will be easy to get up to date. Without revealing too much of the show’s content, I hope I have managed to convince you to start watching Atlanta.