It is a simple question, not addressed to anyone and yet to the whole world. This question is the condensate of the wonderful series Atlantathat comes closer to the lives of African Americans in the United States than any other. The protagonist Earn sits in a bus at night, his daughter has fallen asleep in his arms, he speaks to a stranger and yet more to himself and of course to the viewer: “It may be that some people are born losers, so make it easier for winners in life? ” Then he sees the image of himself in the window: a young African American, broke, homeless, separated from and yet somehow together with his daughter’s mother. What a shitty life!
Earn dropped out of elite at Princeton University, returns to Atlanta, and now gives the credit card seller at the airport for $ 5.15 an hour. He doesn’t want a villa, expensive champagne or gold necklaces and hands. What he wants: pay the rent, send his daughter to a decent school and occasionally invite her mother to a restaurant without having to beg his friends. He doesn’t want to make it big. But he just doesn’t want to be as small as before. This is the African American dream in the 21st century.
Tragic and deadly sad moments that make you smile
Atlanta is about Earn’s life as a feeling, the plot is just the framework for a much more meaningful message. Earn wants to manage his cousin Alfred, who has released a mixtape under the stage name “Paper Boi” and has become a local celebrity. Alfred is not a rapper big mouth – although everyone expects this from him and cheers him when he thrashes you or even shoots him down – but rather a cozy teddy bear who is skeptical about fame and prefers to be stoned on the couch than in nightclubs to celebrate lightly clothed girls.
“I have to rap because I have no other choice in life,” he says. The message: Earl and Alfred can’t care about tomorrow or the big picture because they’re too busy trying to survive today. Tomorrow, they’ll take care of it tomorrow.
There are many of these little moments, the simple questions and the simpler answers that are so tragic and sad as hell that make you smile: when Earn tries to order a children’s menu because he has no money for a burger. When an over-understanding white man explains the African-American culture to him and is asked to finally explore his roots in Africa.
And of course there are fabulous dialogues between Earn and Alfred: “Is the milk still good?” – “What do you want with that?” – “Drink.” – “Drink? No, man, she’s no longer good for that.” Or: “Just try not to die.” – “Every day, man. Every day.”
Donald Glover (who also plays the protagonist) invented this series, which does not start, but touches gently because of the wonderful characters: one episode is exclusively about Earn’s girlfriend Van and the problems of African-American women. One episode describes only a glimpse of the nicer life, the carefree existence, which in the end is pretty stupid because you have to sell your soul. And Alfred has a permanently stoned friend, Darius, who doesn’t have all the marbles together and yet understands more of the world than everyone else.
Because of these constantly changing perspectives, Glover can ask interesting questions: Do you have to find the transsexual Caitlyn Jenner sexy just so that you don’t stand as a narrow-minded opponent of the LGBT community? What do you call a guy who looks black and Asian, but could also be of Mexican-Indian descent?
“Nigger” is the recurring word that drums into the viewer’s brain as a rhythm, the subjects poverty and violence, the melody and the bitter-sweet dialogues of the protagonists are the verses of a melancholic rap song that has apparently become a television series by chance. Atlanta is like “Tearz” from Wu-Tang Clan, “Suicidal Thoughts” von The Notorious B.I.G. oder “All That I Got Is You” von Ghostface Killah, only as an album with ten songs so far, a second season is planned.
You could now compare the series with other tragic-comic and brilliant projects like Louie (by Louis CK) or Master of None (by Aziz Ansari), but you can leave it at that and see Atlanta as a magical series about African-Americans in this country where the white underclass feels forgotten – that’s not all. For those who have shaken their heads in the past few weeks about what is happening in the United States, this series is recommended. He’ll suddenly understand a lot.