Stars: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz
What is there to say about Atlanta Robbin’ Season that we didn’t dissect in the weekly interims? Donald Glover declared that the sophomore season of his first TV series would be a classic...back when he was doing press for its debut season. Goddamn if he didn’t live up to his own challenge. After a debut season spent exploring everything a show about Atlanta rappers trying to make it could be—i.e., much less about the cliché rise to stardom, much more about being black in Atlanta, where sometimes wry cynicism is the only way to survive—the biggest swerve of Robbin’ Season was the very straightforward story it coded into an overarching theme about what desperation does to the city and its inhabitants. As such, Donald, Stephen, Stefani and company’s greatest trick was fashioning a series where they’re now able to break convention and play to it at the same time. You get a self-contained horror movie Blumhouse would kill for, a middle school flashback Netflix would love to greenlight, and a screwball scammer comedy that are all rich meals unto themselves while also serving as courses in a greater story about familial bonds.
Atlanta could’ve ended right there, with Earn and Alfred having survived robbin’ season with both their business and brotherhood intact. But now that they’ve withstood the trials, I can’t wait to see what this show looks like when you can’t tell them nothing. All I know is Tracy better be there. —Frazier Tharpe