• Atlanta Season 3 is almost here. (Distributor)Source: Distributor
If you're late to Atlanta, we've got you covered.
By
Ben Skinner

22 Mar 2022 - 6:14 PM  UPDATED 23 Mar 2022 - 8:11 AM

With the long delayed, much hyped new season of Atlanta finally heading to SBS VICELAND and SBS On Demand, it’s the perfect time for those who might still be sitting on the fence to discover exactly why Donald Glover’s critically acclaimed dramedy is one of the defining television shows of the last decade.   

For long-time fans, the below list might encourage you to revisit some of the show's more memorable moments. But for newcomers, it might just be the FOMO you need to catch up with the adventures of Earn, Darius and Paper Boi before their fresh exploits across Europe. 

It has serious star power 

One need only look at the four main cast members' IMDB profiles in the last five years to see just how much of an impact Atlanta has had on their respective careers. LaKeith Stanfield is an Oscar nominee, Zazie Beetz has appeared in several blockbuster films opposite the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Joaquin Phoenix; and Brian Tyree Henry is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.   

Of the big four, only Donald Glover had a well-established career before the show's pilot dropped back in 2016. This collective star power is a key factor as to why it’s been so long since we’ve had a fresh batch of episodes - and ultimately why the decision was made to shoot the final two seasons of the series back-to-back.

It speaks to being Black in America

It’s no secret that the biggest theme Atlanta deals with are the societal prejudices the main characters bump up against every day in both their professional and private lives. The show has never shied away from tackling these issues in shocking and often hilarious ways, such as the season one episode B.A.N. (short for Black American Network), in which a frustrated Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) appears on a fictional late night talk show to discuss topics of race and structural racism, while commercials satirise bleak issues like police brutality.   

But in the history of the show, no episode has tackled race in a more head on way than in the Darius centred episode Teddy Perkins. Making comments on everything from the use of blackface in mainstream media, to the turbulent life of Michael Jackson; and featuring a disturbing Donald Glover under layers of prosthetics, to this day it remains a defining moment for the series.

Season 2 / Episode 6: 'Teddy Perkins' 

The music

For a show centred around the toils of an up-and-coming rapper, music was always going to play a large part in the makeup of Atlanta. Particularly when its chief architect is one Childish Gambino.   

Over the show's first two seasons, everyone from local heroes Migos and Young Thug to icons like Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder make an appearance on the ever-eclectic soundtrack. 

But no pair of artists looms larger over the show than Andre Benjamin and Antwon Patton, otherwise known as OutKast. The Grammy winning hip hop duo are basically woven into the fabric of the city, so for them to not play an important part in the characters’ realities would somehow feel disingenuous. 

Aside from a memorable appearance of their 1996 track Elevators (Me and You) early in the series, OutKast also featured in a bizarre series of faux commercials used in the promotional materials for the new season.

It has an impressive awards haul 

Atlanta is often praised for its masterful blend of surreal tone and razor-sharp satire, which is no mistake given Glover himself once described the show as “Twin Peaks with rappers”. Naturally when your show is this good, awards will follow, and the series’ stylish filmmaking and offbeat script was almost immediately met with accolades from critics and voting bodies alike. 

The lion's share of these awards have thus far gone to its multi-talented creator/writer/producer and star. Not only did Donald Glover win Outstanding Actor at the 2017 Emmy Awards, but he would become the first black man ever to win for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series.

It knows where it's from 

It’s in the name: Atlanta…The Big-A. Cultural melting pot of the South and one time home to a young, bright-eyed Donald Glover. Having grown up in the outer suburb of Stone Mountain, as part of one of the only black families in his neighbourhood, it’s not hard to see where the inspiration for much of Earn’s struggles stem from on the show. 

Much like what The Wire did for Baltimore - Atlanta shines the spotlight on a great American city that has for too long been underrepresented on our screens. The unglamorous ways in which the show presents its characters for who they are, be it drug dealer or shop attendant, never feels contrived. They are simply real people trying to get by in their day to day lives, and the ways in which these struggles are often portrayed using pitch black comedy is part of what makes the show so refreshing. 

Season 3 of Atlanta premieres exclusively in Australia on SBS VICELAND and at SBS On Demand on Friday 25 March. The fast-tracked season launches with a double episode from 9.20pm. Catch up on seasons 1 and 2 while you wait: 

 

 

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