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Recommended: Atlanta Season 3 on FX

With two seasons airing this year, now's the time to start watching one of TV's most distinctive and acclaimed shows.
  • Brian Tyree Henry (left) and Donald Glover in Atlanta (Photo: Oliver Upton/FX)
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    Atlanta Season 3 | FX
    Half-Hour Comedy (10 episodes) | TV-MA

    What's new and what's changed?

    Donald Glover's breathtaking Afro-Surrealist comedy has returned for its long-anticipated third season with storytelling that's at once bizarre and relatable, exuberantly weird and serious as a heart attack.

    Who's involved?

    If you've never seen an episode of Atlanta before, no worries, because the show's regulars don't do anything until the second episode. Instead, the entire Season 3 opener is devoted to a beat-by-beat retelling of the notorious 2018 Hart family murders, an unsettling tale about race, privilege and institutional failure. Told from the perspective of one of the victims, powerfully played by Christopher Farrar, it's the kind out-of-left-field effort that Atlanta fans have come to expect — and thus is the perfect introduction for viewers new to this acclaimed series.

    When we do meet back up with Alfred, aka aspiring rapper Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) and his cousin-manager Earn (Glover), they're in Europe, doing better than in the salad days of the show's first two seasons. Along for the tour are Atlanta's other two regulars — Earn's sometime girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz) and Al's sidekick Darius (LaKeith Stanfield). That's all you really need to know: strap in for some of the most provocative storylines and unexpected laughs you'll have all year. The denouement of episode two, featuring a legendary figure involved in possibly the most hilarious assisted suicide captured on camera, is just the beginning. Later episodes touch on reparations, the racial views of Europeans (including Liam Neeson as himself), and, of course, wokeness, which was barely in the cultural conversation thing when Season 2 of Atlanta aired in early 2018.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    Strange and brilliant, Atlanta is a tour de force for Glover — a comedy that revels in the hijinks of nuanced and appealing characters, but which can deftly swerve into horror, satire, action-movie violence, and statements about Black life that are some of the most incisive on TV. It’s frankly amazing that one series, from basically one man, can do so many things and do them so well. With the fourth (and final) season expected to air this fall, now is the time to get caught up on one of television's most original shows of all time.

    Pairs well with

    • After Life (Netflix), Ricky Gervais' unfairly maligned show on existentialism and death with a dollop of his signature workplace comedy stirred in.
    • Woke (Hulu), a less ambitious but still enjoyable comedy about a cartoonist who undergoes a racial awakening while trying to advance his career.
    • The Wonder Years (Hulu), a charming and generous family comedy that, like Atlanta, offers a view of a familiar world from a Black perspective.

  • Atlanta (Season 3)
    New episodes air Thursdays on FX through May 19. Streaming on Hulu.
    Created by: Donald Glover.
    Starring: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz.
    Directed by: Donald Glover, Hiro Murai, and Ibra Ake.
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    TOPICS: Atlanta, FX, Brian Tyree Henry, Donald Glover, Donald Glover, Donald Glover, Hiro Murai, Ibra Ake, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz