This year’s Golden Globes, the middle sibling to the Emmys and the Oscars that recognizes both the fields its brothers do, just wrapped. The shows and movies you’d expect to win the award did, like La La Land for film (in almost all the categories it was qualified for, even Best Actor and Actress) and Netflix’s The Crown for TV. Oh, and an awesome speech from the Meryl Streep taking all the shots at Donald Trump.
A lot of the winners and nominees were well-known names, but one set of awards highlights an underrated (at least, here in the Philippines) piece of work. Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino, for those who still don’t know—shame) and his new comedy series Atlanta bagged Best Actor for Musical/Comedy and Best Comedy respectively. If you’re a fan of the guy, his work in Community, his music, hip-hop, and/or the culture surrounding it in general, you need to be on the show if you aren’t yet.
It’s often agreed on that the best kind of comedy comes from real-life experience, and that’s the strength ‘Bino draws from and truly capitalizes on in Atlanta. Glover plays Earnest “Earn” Marks, who is a loser in his eponymous hometown. He reconnects with his cousin, rapper Paper Boi, in order for them to make it big on the momentum of his fire single… also called “Paper Boi.” He figures that he could help Paper Boi out, make him a star, and make more money to get a better life for himself, his daughter, and his baby mama.
Atlanta is pretty much an American-style stand-up comedy routine fleshed out into a longform sitcom format. It takes the gritty, veriteesque style of incorporating observations of life that fellow comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Louis CK pushed in their own series Seinfeld and Louie, respectively, but puts that all into a completely fictional narrative. Atlanta does away with the stand-up performance as a framing device, and instead just tells you to go jump into this world that isn’t too far away from our own.
If you’re clued into at least a few aspects of urban African-American and hip-hop culture, you’ll get most of the jokes and scenarios—if not, the comedy is ridiculous enough to pick up along the way. Besides, half the comedy is about Earn being a loser, so it smartly leaves itself wide open, with the sharper stuff revolving around the culture. (And a small part highlighting the absurd.)
Now, while clips like that seem offensive to some sensibilities, the show’s humor satirizes much of the outdated “values” of a lot of cultures, such as the infamously super-masculine hip-hop culture and capitalism. It’s understandable that some of the nuances will be lost on those who aren’t too familiar with this kind of environment, but again, the show does it best to anchor itself on Earn’s relatable down-on-his-luck millennial story and strengthen it with the circumstances. It’s the kind of comedy we could really do well to have our own of over here, one we’re hoping becomes a new local trend after the “indie” sensibility finishes completely establishing itself here.
All that’s left to wait for now is that Childish Gambino x Chance the Rapper mixtape that’s rumored to be coming out soon. In the meantime, if you’re missing Troy, this should satisfy your craving.
UPDATE (5:10 pm, 1/9/17): We ran into some pretty disappointing evidence that Donald Glover seems to be a problematic dude, something we really didn’t know about until it popped up after his Golden Globes win. We’re still trying to process feelings, but we don’t approve nor support of Glover’s indiscretions. That said, despite that Atlanta is still a decent show that deserves its awards.