The TV series Atlanta say goodbye in style. We cannot come up with a better definition. And that’s not bad either.
The vow: Twin Peaks with rappers. That said Atlantacreator Donald Glover in 2016, in interviews about the first episodes of the TV series he conceived through black culture, about black culture. A much better definition of the as disturbing as it is brilliant Atlanta hasn’t really happened in recent years. Not even now, after the fourth and final season of the series can also be seen in the Netherlands on Disney +.
Glover says goodbye in style to what has been one of the most extraordinary television series of recent years. Especially because Atlanta remained so very difficult to interpret until the end. Yes, there was a plot – but there wasn’t either – about Darius, Earn and Vanessa, and rapper Alfred/Paper Boi slowly building his hip-hop career.
But much more than plot was Atlanta a series of snapshots of what it’s like to be black in white America. A piece of cultural criticism which mainly, but not exclusively, focused on how white America views black America. But also how black America sees itself. Atlanta did not shy away from self-deprecation and focused from the perspective ‘the cultureoften enough on that culture itself. As Earn and Darius’ quest for a coveted pair of Nike sneakers makes clear, or the episode Work ethic!where Vanessa and her daughter get lost on the set of black sitcoms.
So chopped Atlanta sometimes with the blunt axe, other times the metaphors were more subtle. And sometimes the metaphors were simply incomprehensible, if they stood for anything at all.
A normal family
Again, the season has vague, difficult to fathom (but always entertaining) episodes like the one the season opens with. Where Darius, always in the ultimate Zen state, will return a deep fryer while the store is looted around him. Why? No idea. Or in a later episode, Earn finds himself in the metaphysical waiting room as he hopes to add D’Angelo to his stable of artists.
There’s also an almost heartbreaking ‘normal’ episode where Earn and his ex Vanessa are on a camping trip with their birthday daughter. Where the two finally promise each other to become a normal family. The plot comes into play for a moment, and a beautiful sunset seems to be dawning for the brooding Earn.
The series has already clearly set its course towards the end. Because, like Earn, Alfred also has his parting episode when he also withdraws into nature and comes to himself. Much of the fourth season was dedicated to this impending farewell. It has already become clear that Alfred, aka rapper Paper Boi, who made an effort to sell his mixtapes in the first season and toured Europe as an established artist in the previous season, is now past his prime. The kids no longer recognize him, we see, when Alfred, like other black artists, saw just one young white avatar takes – a young white artist – with whom they have a chance at a Grammy.
The viewer on the wrong leg
Exactly the blunt ax mentioned. To Atlanta used more often, especially in the third, mixed received season. But each episode managed to surprise again, to mislead the viewer. Sometimes the show wouldn’t say anything at all, more often the meaning would leave the viewers out.the culture‘ (and especially white viewers in Europe) relaxed, but even more often the series made you think. Such a series was Atlanta.
And the dreamy Darius, who often enough was stoned and completely detached between storylines? He also gets his farewell, in the fittingly ambiguous final episode. Maybe it was all a dream. That would explain a lot.
The fourth season of Atlanta, along with the previous three, can now be seen in the Netherlands on Disney+.