“The new crop of fall TV shows is still rolling out, but consensus has already formed around one of the most outstanding debuts of the season: “Atlanta,” a comedy that announced itself not with belly laughs but with a self-assured tone and characters that defy sitcom norms.
Following three friends’ faltering attempts to earn money and fame on the local music scene, the FX series turns viewers into locavores, consuming Atlanta’s languid pace of life and landmarks. In scenes that are by turns somber and surreal, “Atlanta” peels back the layers of black life in the city—and, by extension, America—as experienced by its predominantly African-American creators, led by producer, writer and star Donald Glover.
With 1.8 million total viewers (including three days of DVR viewing), the premiere episode was the most-watched of the 10 comedies FX has debuted in the past five years, and ratings have remained strong. It’s been a social-media magnet, too, with #AtlantaFX routinely trending on Twitter during live airings Tuesday nights. Already renewed for a second season, the show is one of only two freshman series to score a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, an aggregator of critic and viewer reviews. (The other is “Fleabag,” a British import on Amazon.)
It has vaulted the 33-year-old Mr. Glover into the realm of prestige television. Not that he was lagging. Mr. Glover, who declined to be interviewed for this story, jumped from making viral videos at New York University to writing for the groundbreaking NBC comedy “30 Rock.” He starred in the TV series “Community” and in movies such as “The Martian,” playing an astrodynamicist who helps bring Matt Damon home. At the same time, he built careers in stand-up comedy and music, putting out rap albums under the name Childish Gambino .
“Donald had a hand in about 10 years of excellent television on both sides of the camera before writing ‘Atlanta.’ If you add that to his other life in the music business, you know he was ready for his close-up,” says “30 Rock” executive producer David Miner, who recruited Mr. Glover when he was a senior at NYU…”