Atlanta
On a black background, the word Atlanta is written in white block capital letters, the first and last letter A have extra stylized curls
Genre
Created byDonald Glover
Starring
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes41 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Production locations
Cinematography
  • Christian Sprenger
  • Stephen Murphy (season 3)
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time22–39 minutes
Production companies
  • RBA
  • 343 Incorporated
  • MGMT. Entertainment
  • FXP
Distributor
Release
Original networkFX
Picture formatHDTV 720p
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseSeptember 6, 2016 (2016-09-06) –
November 10, 2022 (2022-11-10)

Atlanta is an American comedy-drama television series created by Donald Glover. The series follows college dropout and music manager Earnest "Earn" Marks (Glover) and rapper Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) as they navigate a strange, seemingly otherworldly, Atlanta hip hop scene. Atlanta also stars LaKeith Stanfield as Darius, Earn and Alfred's eccentric friend, and Zazie Beetz as Vanessa "Van" Kiefer, Earn's on-again-off-again girlfriend and the mother of his daughter.

The series was produced by RBA, 343 Incorporated, MGMT. Entertainment, and FXP and is primarily set and filmed in Atlanta and the surrounding Georgia area; the third season features international filming locations. Atlanta is one of the only American cable television series to feature an all-Black writing staff (featuring Glover as writer, executive producer, and showrunner),[6][7] with much of the focus set on examining race, class, identity, the American Dream, existentialism, and modern African-American culture through an Afro-Surrealist lens.[8] It is also notable for its use of bottle and standalone episodes, which often do not feature the main cast.

Atlanta premiered on September 6, 2016,[9] and was initially exclusively broadcast on cable channel FX in the United States and internationally through the Fox Networks Group; after the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney in 2017, the series became available internationally on Disney+, and was distributed in the United States by Disney–ABC Domestic Television. The fourth and final season concluded on November 10, 2022,[10][11] with the series containing 41 episodes overall.

Atlanta is often regarded as one of the greatest television series of the 21st century.[12][13][14][15] It has received numerous awards and nominations, including two Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy; Glover has received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy, and two Primetime Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and one Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, the latter being the first ever awarded to an African-American.

Plot

The series follows Earn (Donald Glover) during his daily life in Atlanta, Georgia, as he tries to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz), who is also the mother of his daughter Lottie; as well as his parents and his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry), who raps under the stage name "Paper Boi". Having dropped out of Princeton University, Earn has no money and no home and consequently alternates between staying with his parents and his ex-girlfriend. Once he realizes that his cousin is on the verge of stardom, he seeks to reconnect with him in order to improve his life and the life of his daughter.

Although there is an overarching story depicting Earn and Paper Boi's struggles as the latter ascends through the hip hop scene, the series has been noted for its lack of emphasis on multi-episode story arcs, instead using a somewhat surrealistic style of episodic storytelling that Glover has likened to short stories, as have some critics.[16][17][18]

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

The series also features guest appearances by celebrities who portray fictionalized versions of themselves. Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff portray Alfred's drug suppliers. Gunna and Jai Paul appear as a partygoer and a poker player, respectively. Lloyd and Jaleel White feature as participants in a charity basketball game. Jane Adams plays an agent who confuses Earn for someone else. Michael Vick portrays a quarterback who challenges club-goers to foot races. Alexander Skarsgård portrays a sexually-depraved cannibal. Liam Neeson and Soulja Boy make appearances that reference their 2019 controversial comments and "Crank That" dance, respectively.[19] Brian McKnight, Sinbad and Jenna Wortham appeared in the mockumentary about Thomas Washington. In the series finale, Cree Summer was a customer Darius talked to at the drugstore.

Episodes

Main article: List of Atlanta episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110September 6, 2016 (2016-09-06)November 1, 2016 (2016-11-01)
211March 1, 2018 (2018-03-01)May 10, 2018 (2018-05-10)
310March 24, 2022 (2022-03-24)May 19, 2022 (2022-05-19)
410September 15, 2022 (2022-09-15)November 10, 2022 (2022-11-10)

Production

FX first began developing the show in August 2013,[20] and then the pilot was ordered to series by FX Networks in December 2014.[21] It was directed by Hiro Murai and shot in Atlanta.[22] It got picked up to series with a 10-episode order in October 2015.[23] Glover, who grew up in Atlanta and also works as a musician, stated that "the city influenced the tone of the show".[24]

The series is also notable for having an all-Black writing staff, which is virtually unheard of in American television. The writer's room consists of Glover himself, his brother Stephen Glover, and members of his rap collective 'Royalty' including Fam Udeorji (Glover's manager), Ibra Ake (Glover's longtime photographer), and Jamal Olori. Stefani Robinson, a writer for Man Seeking Woman, and Taofik Kolade round out the writer's room.[25][26] During an interview with The New Yorker, Glover stated the characters smoke cannabis because "they have PTSD — every Black person does".[27] The show is shot in 2K resolution, produced and edited by Kyle Reiter and Isaac Hagy, and broadcast on FX in 720p.[28]

In January 2017, the series was renewed for a second season; however, FX announced the series would not return until 2018 due to Glover's busy production schedule.[29] Glover revealed that the second season takes inspiration from Tiny Toon Adventures, specifically How I Spent My Vacation.[30]

The series was renewed for a third season in June 2018, which was originally planned for a 2019 premiere,[31] but was delayed due to scheduling conflicts.[32] In August 2019, FX renewed the series for a fourth season and announced that the third and fourth seasons would begin filming in early 2020, with each season consisting of eight episodes.[33] In January 2020, FX announced that the third season's episode count was increased to 10 episodes, and that both seasons were planned to air in 2021–season 3 in January and season 4 later that year.[34] Both seasons were also planned to be shot together and that one of the seasons would be filmed outside the United States.[34] However, production was postponed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[35] In September 2020, it was reported that the third season would not be able to make the January 2021 premiere date that was originally planned.[36] Filming for the third and fourth seasons began in early April 2021, in London, with additional filming in Amsterdam and Paris.[37][38] By August 2021, filming for the third season was completed and production began on the fourth season in Atlanta, and it was confirmed that the third season would premiere in early 2022.[39] The third season premiered with two episodes on March 24, 2022.[40]

By February 2022, both seasons three and four had completed filming, and it was announced that the fourth would be the final season.[10]

Reception

Critical response

Critical response of Atlanta
SeasonRotten TomatoesMetacritic
197% (8.6/10 average rating) (123 reviews)[41]90 (36 reviews)[42]
298% (9.1/10 average rating) (200 reviews)[43]97 (28 reviews)[44]
397% (8.8/10 average rating) (130 reviews)[45]93 (24 reviews)[46]
496% (9.0/10 average rating) (98 reviews)[47]82 (10 reviews)[48]

Atlanta has received widespread acclaim from television critics. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the first season an approval rating of 97% based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Ambitious and refreshing, Atlanta offers a unique vehicle for star and series creator Donald Glover's eccentric brand of humor—as well as a number of timely, trenchant observations."[41] On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 90 out of 100, based on reviews from 36 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[42]

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle gave it a highly positive review, writing: "The scripts for the four episodes made available to critics are as richly nuanced as anything you'll see on TV or, to be sure, in a movie theater. You will not only know these characters after only one episode, you'll be hooked on them, as well. In so many areas, Atlanta sets the bar exceptionally high."[49] Sonia Saraiya of Variety also praised the series, declaring it a "finished, cinematic, and beautiful production that may be one of the best new shows of the fall."[50]

The second season received further critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 98%, based on 200 reviews, with an average rating of 9.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Donald Glover continues to subvert expectations with a sophomore season of Atlanta that proves as excellent as it is eccentric."[43] On Metacritic, the second season has a score of 97 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[44]

In 2019, Atlanta was ranked 10th on The Guardian's list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century.[51] The Writers Guild Foundation listed the season 1 episode "Streets on Lock" as having one of the best scripts of 2010s film and television, writing, "The story features fully realized supporting players and miscreants, but right when we start laughing, everything takes a sour turn, causing us to reflect on what we’re really laughing at".[52]

The third season has a score of 93 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 24 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[46] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 97%, based on 130 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Atlanta takes Paper Boi and his entourage out of Georgia, but this inspired third season proves that the more things change, the more they stay weird."[45]

The fourth season has a score of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 10 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[48] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 96%, based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 9.0/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Foregrounding its characters and namesake again after an anthological sojourn in Europe, Atlanta closes out in its sweet spot: funny, insightful, and weird as hell."[47]

In 2022, Rolling Stone ranked Atlanta as the ninth-greatest TV show of all time.[12]

Accolades

Season 1

Award Category Nominees Result Ref.
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 Television Programs Atlanta Won [53]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Series Nominated [54]
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "B.A.N.") Nominated [55]
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Atlanta Won [56]
Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Donald Glover Won
Gotham Independent Film Awards Breakthrough Series – Long Form Atlanta Won [57]
MTV Movie & TV Awards Show of the Year Atlanta Nominated [58]
Best Actor in a Show Donald Glover Nominated
Best Duo Brian Tyree Henry and LaKeith Stanfield Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [59]
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series Won
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Peabody Awards Area of Excellence Atlanta Won [60]
People's Choice Awards Favorite Cable TV Comedy Nominated [61]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [62]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Won
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "B.A.N.") Won
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "B.A.N.") Nominated
Stephen Glover (for "Streets on Lock") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Alexa L. Fogel, Tara Feldstein Bennett, and Chase Paris Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Episodic Television, Comedy Donald Glover, Dianne McGunigle, Paul Simms, Hiro Murai, and Alex Orr Won [63]
Television Critics Association Awards Program of the Year Atlanta Nominated [64]
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Won
Outstanding New Program Nominated
Individual Achievement in Comedy Donald Glover Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Stefani Robinson, and Paul Simms Won [65]
New Series Won
Episodic Comedy Stephen Glover (for "Streets on Lock") Nominated

Season 2

Award Category Nominees Result Ref.
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Comedy Series for Commercial Television Isaac Hagy (for "Alligator Man") Nominated [66]
Kyle Reiter (for "Teddy Perkins") Won
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 TV Programs of the Year Atlanta Won [67]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Series Nominated [68]
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Donald Glover Nominated [69]
People's Choice Awards The Comedy TV Star of 2018 Donald Glover Nominated [70]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [71]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Brian Tyree Henry Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Zazie Beetz Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "FUBU") Nominated
Hiro Murai (for "Teddy Perkins") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Donald Glover (for "Alligator Man") Nominated
Stefani Robinson (for "Barbershop") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Alexa L. Fogel, Tara Feldstein Bennett, and Chase Paris Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) Christian Sprenger (for "Teddy Perkins") Won
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Katt Williams (for "Alligator Man") Won
Outstanding Music Supervision Jen Malone and Fam Udeorji (for "Alligator Man") Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour or Less) Timothy O'Brien, Taylor Mosbey, and Aimee Athnos (for "Teddy Perkins") Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series Isaac Hagy (for "Alligator Man") Nominated
Kyle Reiter (for "Teddy Perkins") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation Trevor Gates, Jason Dotts, David Barbee, Jordan McClain, Tara Blume, and Matt Salib (for "Teddy Perkins") Won
Satellite Awards Best Comedy Series Atlanta Nominated [72]
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Khris Davis, Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, and LaKeith Stanfield Nominated [73]
Television Critics Association Awards Program of the Year Atlanta Nominated [74]
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Individual Achievement in Comedy Donald Glover Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Ibra Ake, Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Taofik Kolade, Jamal Olori, Stefani Robinson, and Paul Simms Nominated [75]

Season 3

Award Category Nominees Result Ref.
American Society of Cinematographers Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in an Episode of a Half-Hour Television Series Stephen Murphy (for "New Jazz") Pending [76]
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Cable Series, Comedy Atlanta Nominated [77]
Best Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Donald Glover Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Brian Tyree Henry Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Zazie Beetz Nominated
Best Directing in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Hiro Murai (for "New Jazz") Nominated
Best Writing in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy Donald Glover (for "Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga") Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Donald Glover Nominated [78]
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Hiro Murai (for "New Jazz") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) Christian Sprenger (for "Three Slaps") Won
Set Decorators Society of America Awards Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Half-Hour Single-Camera Series Lisbeth Ayala, Timothy David O'Brien, and Jonathan Paul Green Nominated [79]
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Atlanta Nominated [80]

Season 4

Award Category Nominees Result Ref.
American Society of Cinematographers Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in an Episode of a Half-Hour Television Series Christian Sprenger (for "Andrew Wyeth. Alfred's World.") Pending [81]

International broadcast

The first season was broadcast in the UK on BBC Two, from May 13, 2018, to June 17, 2018.[82]

Home media

The Complete First Season was released on DVD in Region 1 on March 6, 2018,[83] and The Complete Second Season (Robbin' Season) was released on DVD on December 17, 2019.[84]

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