Series / Atlanta

Atlanta is a series created by and starring Donald Glover, set in the eponymous city of Atlanta, one of the top cities for young rappers looking to make a name for themselves in the business.

Among those up-and-comers is Alfred Miles, a hot new artist, AKA Paper Boi, who is trying to understand the line between real life and street life.

He is managed by his cousin, Earn, who gets caught up in the local rap scene and his cousin's career after returning home to Atlanta. Earn does whatever he can to try to get Alfred's career to the next level. Darius, the rapper's right-hand man and visionary, is also in Alfred's entourage.

When Earn isn't busy managing his cousin's career, he spends much of his time with ex-girlfriend Vanessa, who is also the mother of his daughter.

Atlanta provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Transracial character in "B.A.N." seems like a mean-spirited caricature of Transgender people, but people who claim to be "Transracial" actually do exist.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Zan, the internet personality trolling Alfred Miles. Lampshading this becomes a Running Gag in one episode; every time he's mentioned, characters ask something along the lines of "Isn't he Dominican?", "Is he Asian?", or (after he casually uses the N-word) "Are you even black?"
  • Call-Back: The investment that Darius sets up in "The Streisand Effect" is paid back in "Sportin' Waves"
  • Celebrity Paradox: The rich white man mentioned under Foreign Culture Fetish has an album collection that includes Childish Gambino’s own album Awaken, My Love!
  • Cool Car: Marcus Miles has an invisible car. Paper Boi is skeptical as it's shown with Marcus showing off pictures & selfies standing around with nothing. At the end of the episode there is a shootout at the club, and Marcus drives off, running several people over with the only thing you can see being him driving. This also averts Visible Invisibility.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Earn decided to challenge Michael Vick, ex-NFL player and codifier of the running quarterback style of play, to a footrace. We don't see the results, but it goes predictably bad for him.
  • Day in the Limelight:
    • "Value" is focused solely on Van, with Earn and Paper Boi making small appearances.
    • "Barbershop", which is entirely about Paper Boi, with no appearances from any other lead.
    • "Teddy Perkins" is focused on Darius with Earn and Alfred having minor appearances.
    • "Champagne Papi" is another Van-focused episode, with Darius appearing near the end of the episode.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the pilot is the most grounded, the series has been, with each passing episode, increasingly unusual.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: When Earn and Van visits one of her old school friends in a Juneteenth theme party, they meet the woman's husband, a rich white man who loves and praises African-American culture. Even all of the couple's friends are prominent and rich black people.
  • Genre Roulette: Although every episode is still comedic, they switch from dramedy to Magic Realism to outright satire ("B.A.N."), sometimes within a single episode.
  • Handcuffed Briefcase: Darius takes one to a drug deal... and forgets to bring the key to the handcuffs. The drug dealers decide they're going to get their money anyway... by opening the briefcase and putting the money in another bag. That was easy.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Harrison, a black teenager who identified himself as a white man and wants people to accept his white trans-racial identity, does not accept transsexuals and same-sex marriage.
  • Magical Negro: Atlanta is an odd show for this trope to appear. Indeed, Ahmed White (the stranger on the bus) turns out to be some sort of subversion, parody, or both.
  • Magic Realism: The invisible car in "The Club."
  • Meaningful Name: Earnest "Earn" Marks. A mark is a form of currency, and Earn is doing his best to ensure he and Alfred get rich.
  • Mood Whiplash: Everyone (expect for Earn) has a good laugh at an insane perp in the holding station for drinking toilet water out of a cup. However, it gets dark very abruptly when he spits water at a cop and gets beaten and restrained as a result
  • Nice to the Waiter: Earn quickly befriends the janitor, Prince, at a radio station when he wants to gain access without his friend who works there realizing.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Teddy Perkins seems to be this for Michael Jackson, being a former musician who bleached his skin and has Daddy Issues.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe example. After Paper Boi's arrest in the first episode, he's gets a large following of fans who consider him a real gangster. Also appears to be deconstructed somewhat in episode 2, since Paper Boi seems to grow increasingly uncomfortable when part of the recognition of his music is also tied to his arrest.
    • Another example in season 2, when a white suburban mom makes a video denouncing Paper Boi for explicit lyrics, drug references, and praising Colin Kaepernick, his single sells even more.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • In the first episode, Earn seeks out an old white friend that he wants a favor from and has to force a grin as his "friend" unabashedly uses the n-word. After they separate, Earn asks the black janitor who works at the building if he normally speaks like that, and the janitor says that he never does, especially not around him. Later, Earn pushes his friend into repeating the same story, this time with Alfred and Darius with him, and stares stone-faced as his friend awkwardly self-censors himself.
    • Alfred explicitly asks Zan "Are you even black?" when Zan casually uses the word. Zan says that yes, he is.
  • Only in Florida: Darius speaks of "Florida Man" as if he's an actual, otherworldly being of weirdness.
  • Police Brutality: In the season finale, Earn, Alfred and Darius go to their Uber driver's house to get Earn's jacket back, only to find that the Uber driver is wanted by the police. The police then shoot him to death when he runs out of his house (wearing Earn's jacket).
  • Race Lift: Justin Bieber is black in this universe.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Inverted. Earn is friends with a DJ at a radio station and wants him to play Paper Boi's song, but the friend tries to claim that all decisions go through the station manager and he charges $500 to listen to a song. Realizing that his friend is just going to keep the money for himself—and maybe won't even pass the song along at all—Earn befriends the janitor at the radio station and gets him to let him into the building through the back door. Once inside, Earn just slides the CD under the station manager's office door and it winds up on the radio later that night.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The janitor that Earn befriends in the first episode is named "Prince", and Earn has to ask if he is serious when first told.
    • Alfred is incapable of getting a finished haircut in "Barbershop", to which an onlooker describes his hair as looking like a "Super Saiyan's".