Donald Glover Creates Fantastic Realism

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The new show on FX,“Atlanta,” is an interesting commentary on desperation, poverty and family.

“Atlanta” is about a young black man named Earnest “Earn” Marks, played by rap artist and actor Donald Glover, who lives in a fairly impoverished neighborhood in Atlanta.

One of the first things depicted in the pilot episode was the stark disparity between affluent and impoverished neighborhoods.

Although the scene is specific to Atlanta, it is a sight that is probably familiar to anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in any large city. Beside carefully constructed and planned subdivisions, there are neighborhoods in which houses are crumbling. It was a short but powerful scene.

Earn is a young father whose relationship with his daughter’s mother is ambiguous at best.

He is unemployed and faces homelessness when he discovers that his cousin has released a rap song that is popular in Atlanta. Earn then sets out to manage his cousin’s up and coming career, but faces his cousin’s mistrust.

“Atlanta” succeeds at depicting poverty in a realistic manner, and that is one of its greatest strengths.

The pilot episode hinted that Earn was a Princeton dropout, which is a reality for many Americans,whethertheydropped out of high school or college or never went to college.

In the show, it is currently unclear why he dropped out of college, but regardless of the reason, many people can relate to the reality or at least the fear of returning to their hometown with no education and few prospects.

Earn also appears to have limited connections in the music industry, and his previous success as a DJ is implied in the pilot. This implies that, whatever happened, he gave up a promising future and is now struggling just to get by.

This happens to more people than many realize, and the fact that a show is depicting this reality is heartening, because many shows that attempt to depict poverty and issues surrounding it do so in a distinctly “Hollywood” way.

In “Atlanta,” there is no obvious attempt to whitewash poverty. The characters live in houses and apartments that are probably familiar to college students or those who grew up or live in relative poverty.

The pilot episode also makes some interesting comments on family relationships. When Earn visits his parents, they expect him to ask for money, although that is not his intention. This may be familiar to many individuals who have relied on their families long past the age of 18 for financial support.

Earn’s cousin, the potentially up and coming Paper Boi, doesn’t trust him because he hasn’t been active in his life for years. Again, the realism of the circumstances in this show are all too real for many of us, as is the idea of earning back our family’s trust and respect.

The show is realistically awkward. However, it may be ambiguous to a fault. There is very little plot and less background in the pilot episode, which may entice some to continue to watch, but may leave others disappointed.

Overall, it was a fair representation of many Americans’ realities. Earn says that some people just weren’t supposed to succeed, and that he may just be one of those people. This is a very poignant representation of how thousands, if not millions, of people feel, regardless of if they are well-off or very poor.

photo courtesy of gossiponthis.com

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I was born and raised in Arkansas, and most recently lived in Jacksonville. I live with my boyfriend and cat, and in my down time I like to knit, paint, and go camping. I would probably camp every weekend if I could. I'm a journalism major.

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