By Danny Sellers
If you are like any other media hungry, TV obsessed, social media dependent person, you more than likely have a few shows that you are loyal to. Reality TV has definitely been dominate in years past but companies like Netflix, Starz, FX and AMC, ABC have stayed true to the traditional scripted TV our parents grew up on. The latest show to hit the scene for millennials is Atlanta.
Atlant Bio via FX:
Two cousins work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families. Donald Glover serves as Executive Producer, along with Paul Simms and Dianne McGunigle.
Our parents first saw a traditional upper middle class black family for the first time in the 80s with The Cosby Show. The Cosby Show displayed as Shawn Carter would say, “Real Life Goals”. It was revolutionary to see a successful black family go through trials and successes but also give black folks a point of reference of what success looks like.
Atlanta shows us a different rhetoric. Atlanta is a raw, funny and real storyline of what many young black men live in 2016. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 20 years, black culture is pop culture and Southern Rap is its Golden Child. Great Philosophers such as Guwop, Future, and Two Chainz (to name a few) have taken the torch from their predecessors and displayed the story of Atlanta through music, merchandise, media and more. There are plenty of reasons why Atlanta is changing the scope of storytelling for millennials and beyond.
I went to college in North Carolina and had classmates and friends that are from Atlanta. The phrases and lingo used in the show are pretty accurate and funny. The show uses actual landmarks and popular establishments in the city of Atlanta to help further authenticate the story of a typical life lived by so many.
The satire is so timely it’s scary. In episode 5 when Darius is at the shooting range and gets kicked out is so relevant. Quick Spoiler Alert: Darius(Lakeith Stanfield) comes to the range as the only black dude. Everyone else is shooting targets of people while he shoots a target shaped like a Dog. The white guys at the range freak out to the point where the range manager kicks Darius out at gunpoint. It is so relevant that people will say RIP Harambe before they say/admit #blacklivesmatter. But I’m sleep...
So far in the series, Atlanta has shown a flawless mixture of satire but honest comedy as it relates to hip hop culture in the south. In 2016 people are literally making money off instagram followers. The pursuit of rap fame, while it is becoming more typical is a very untraditional way to make a living. With that comes a lot of nontraditional ways to feed themselves, keeping the lights on and also have fun. Spoiler Alert: Earn (Donald Glover) is broke as hell.
Black Storytelling - Satire of roles in the Black Community:
The Black Community is a unique one. The roles of a black family in 2016(or any other year) are so relatable it’s almost scary. Everybody has a cousin that is actively trying to be a rapper. Everyone has a cousin/uncle/brother that did a few years of college and thinks they know everything. And just about every family has been touched one way or another by drugs, whether it be usage or selling. These family roles are interesting but also honest and relatable in 2016.
The reactions that Paper Boi is starting to get from his community is honestly hilarious. With his recent “success” so far there have been mixed reactions from his neighborhood. From celebrity bloggers to drug dealers to single moms trying to holler, his newly found following shows the colorful truth of our unique communities not only in Atlanta but across the country.
The (Urban?) American Dream:
The American Dream is changing before our eyes. Hip Hop was originated from young black men in New York in the 70s who wanted to express the truths and trials of their neighborhoods. Like anything, that has grown to span across all races and age groups. In 2016, the most popular rapper is a mixed guy from Canada who got his first shot on a teen TV drama. What a time.
Now more than ever, the barrier of entry is extremely low to become an “overnight success”. First of all, you don’t need a record deal to share music. Second, the technology needed to produce content is either under your keyboard or in the same portable device you swipe right with. We are all one catch phrase and beat away from millions of Soundcloud views. So I totally get why so many people have put all of their cards in for that chance.
While The Cosby show showed two highly educated black parents raising a family in a beautiful brownstone, that might not be as relatable in 2016. Because in 2016, being a doctor or a lawyer isn’t the only way to “make it”. Back in 1984 there wasn’t Youtube, Facebook or downloadable mixtapes. I love shows like Black-ish and the The Classic Cosby show or even A Different World. But Atlanta is relatable to a whole new, growing demographic of people, and admired by folks that only know Gucci as a decently priced designer clothing brand and drink their Sprite clean.
Photo Credit: Matthias Clamer/FX