Look What Donald Glover is Whippin’ Up in Season 2 of ‘ATLANTA’
by Nile Fortner
Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino has been blowing up bigger than ever in the mainstream with his “This is America” music video and with his take on the iconic Star Wars character Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story, a role that was originally played by Billy Dee Williams. Donald Glover also gave us a new season of the hit FX show Atlanta. Much like Glover, the cast of Atlanta has been blowing up as well, with Zazie Beetz as Domino in the recent film Deadpool 2 and Get Out star Lakeith Stanfield most recently in the new film, Sorry to Bother You.
The award-winning comedy-drama show has returned for a second season, entitled ‘Robin’ Season’. Season two of Atlanta once again follows Earn, played by Glover, his cousin Alfred, better known as Paper Boi, and Lakeith Stanfield’s character Darius, navigating their way in the Atlanta rap music scene in an effort to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
The second time around we still get the laughs, but I found it interesting how the show dedicates some episodes to just certain characters. We still get the cast together; however, some episodes are only dedicated to Earn, Darius, and Paper Boi. This was a wise decision to show what these characters do and go through when they are either by themselves or around other individuals.
Paper Boi, or Alfred, is dealing with the fallout of his rising fame and its interference with his weed-selling business. The discomfort he has for it is shown plainly on his face, and his run-in with an overly polite drug dealer and his barber provided some of the best laughs of the new season. Episode five is dedicated to Paper Boi simply wanting a haircut and his barber, Bibby, takes him on some crazy adventures, everything from the barber picking up his kids, to the barber robbing someone’s house for some lumber, and speeding away. As Alfred’s music career gets bigger, Alfred begins to run into the expectations of others, which isn’t always an enjoyable encounter for him. He works for the money, but the fame sometimes gives him a heavy shoulder and Paper Boi finally realizes he can make money, on the other hand, he learns something about himself through other people or his fans.
A More Mature Childish Gambino
Earn, meanwhile, is once again near homeless and fears being taken out or replaced as manager of Alfred’s fame and journey. The Princeton dropout, and not so good business manager, is having a hard time financially and with his family, while simultaneously dealing with racism, roadblocks, and drama that seem to always seek him.
This had a great guest-appearance by Katt Williams, but what follows also centers around Earn’s motivations and obstacles. I really got a kick out of how in the first season Earn was a relatable down on his luck type of guy, but now we see Earn and Vanessa, Zazie Beetz, getting more into the role of parents. In season two, Earn is faced with the reality of what that means. Earn believes his daughter can actually be something in life and that she can achieve things he has either failed at, gave up on, or didn’t do well at. That is if he can provide her with opportunities and this season Earn seems to be more about opportunities and finding work as a business manager for his cousin Paper Boi. To be that father figure we didn’t see much of in season one, Earn needs to keep working hard, to keep figuring out how to fight back against the system that’s designed to be against him.
All Earn needs is to make something better off not just his life, but for the life of his daughter. This makes Earn more likeable, relatable and it’s far-ranging character development because his experiences can be used as a mirror of representation of African-American life that many families and men have to deal with.
Season 2 of Atlanta Brings on the Horror
Moreover, they also do a great job of setting up ‘Atlanta Robbin’ Season to go in a multitude of different directions when giving our main characters their own stories and episodes. They each feel like standalone installments without any real connection to the main story like in the first season. The first season of ‘Atlanta’ featured some surrealist touches of someone getting run over by an invisible car and a black version of “Justin Bieber”. But season two pulls the most unexpected move of all when compared to the first season, season two gets a more character development by introducing horror.
In episode 6, we are introduced to a character named Teddy Perkins. Episode director Hiro Murai brings on the nerve-racking chills in episode 6 when Darius visits a mansion to get a free piano, where he encounters the eerie Perkins. It was a mature departure from the usual comedy when Glover was unrecognizable in the role of Perkins, the episode was the longest episode to date, and it did not have any commercial breaks.
Glover is creepy as the pale-faced Perkins and it felt very much like the movie Get Out, which also starred Lakeith Stanfield. It’s a slow-burn social-thriller type episode that just gets weirder and weirder. The episode has corpses, the police, a creepy guy in the attic, and this is a must-see episode for any fans of horror.
Similarly, in episode eight, Paper Boi has a life-changing experience when he is lost in the woods, chased by some wacko batshit crazy teens with weapons, and a crazy drugged out homeless man who keeps referring to Paper Boi as, “Big ol’ black deer guts.” He refers to him as that because while lost in the woods, Paper Boi is just going in circles and he keeps passing a dead deer.
Overall, Donald Glover has done it again with season 2 of Atlanta. I dig the horror elements and character development that this season offered. This season went out of their comfort zone and still delivered the goods. I would recommend the Teddy Perkins episode to anyone who wants to know just how crazy this comedy-drama show can get. I can’t wait to see more of this cast, especially Glover in the upcoming 2019 live-action version of The Lion King or whatever else he has planned up his sleeves.
I am giving the second season of Atlanta a 5 out of 5 Hairpieces!