Atlanta

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Atlanta TV Poster Image
Smart dramedy makes "star is born" premise fresh.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The seedy side of the music business is exposed: Earn pays $500 to get his cousin's record played on a radio show. But family bonds are strong and parents are present, supportive, and responsible.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Earn is a striver who's made mistakes; even his own parents won't let him live with them. But he hustles diligently in hopes of gaining success and getting his wife and daughter back. 

Violence

Men brandish guns over perceived insults; one shoots another point-blank; a man who answers a door points a gun at the stranger he finds there.

Sex

A couple kisses in bed; scantily clad women gyrate in hip-hop videos as men discuss and rate their body parts; women are ogled; discussion of "smashing" and other sexual references. 

Language

Frequent cursing: "s--t," "ass," "goddammit," "bitch" (aimed at a female character); racial language used as a term of endearment and in anger (the "N" word); vulgar language about what a character left in a toilet. 

Consumerism

Real celebrities and historical personages are mentioned: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Flo Rida. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters frequently roll and then smoke (marijuana-filled) blunts and drink on-screen; mentions of getting or being high. No negative consequences shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Atlanta is a drama about a young man trying to make it as a music promoter in Atlanta, Georgia. The show is set in a gritty milieu in which men threaten each other with guns and shoot each other at point-blank range over perceived insults, women are ogled and their body parts rated, and characters roll and smoke marijuana-filled blunts. Cursing includes "s--t," "ass," and "bitch," aimed at female characters. Frequent use of the "N" word as an insult or affectionately; the use of the word by white characters is questioned. Parents are present and responsible, and characters are flawed but realistic and seeking redemption.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychris d. October 11, 2016

not really getting it

ok i am watching this show as i am typing and am sorry but i am lost here its funny and all but plot is like moving so slow kee[ waiting but as of now nothing k... Continue reading
Parent of a 2, 4, and 16 year old Written byVicky A. August 22, 2018

Horrifically Offensive (DO NOT WATCH!)

First of all I am a WHITE mother!! I caught one of my middle sons (16) watching this show during a scene where Earnest (one of the main characters) and his girl... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byRidethepony37 September 20, 2016

For matured teens

It consists of lots "N" words, and F words. Also, episode 3 is really messed up at the start of one scene.
Teen, 14 years old Written byNull February 25, 2017

very well done

This show is very funny, it mixes jokes involving the story with jokes in everyday life. Some jokes are just plain good, and some include social commentary. I... Continue reading

What's the story?

Everyone had high hopes for Earnest "Earn" Marks (Donald Glover) when he got into Princeton. But he wound up dropping out and moving back to ATLANTA to live with his family. Several years of screwups later, Earn is estranged from his wife and young baby and on the outs with his mom and dad when his cousin Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) has a local hit song. Seeing his chance, Earn becomes Paper Boi's manager and starts trying to work his music-industry connections to move his cousin up the ladder. No one ever said trying to break into music would be easy. And it isn't. 

Is it any good?

You've seen this "a star is born" setup before, but this drama makes it fresh with terrific, appealing actors and smart, funny dialogue that makes even hackneyed scenes seem new. When Earn offers to manage Paper Boi, his cousin chides him for excessive ambition: "Ain't you homeless?" "Not real homeless," Earn snaps back. "I'm not using a rat as a phone or anything." "That makes you schizophrenic, not homeless," Paper Boi points out. The whole show is full of lines like that -- sharp enough to make you smile, realistic enough that it sounds like real people talking to each other. 

Glover, as Community watchers already know, is a tremendously magnetic actor, though even his fans may be surprised by how deftly he moves from humor to pathos, particularly in scenes with his ex, Van (Zazie Beetz), whom he watches longingly as she moves on with her life, aware that she had good reasons to leave him and that he hasn't always been a great guy. He has disappointed those who love him. This time, though, it's going to be different -- he hopes. And we hope, too, even though it's unclear if Paper Boi is a solid foundation on which to build his house. It doesn't take more than one episode to get sucked into Earn's quest -- even if the premise isn't new. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the music and movie industries are such frequent settings for comedies and dramas. What dramatic possibilities do they offer? Why might stories in these settings be appealing for viewers? What types of dramatic arcs do characters in these types of stories go through? 

  • Donald Glover, who plays Earn, also created Atlanta and wrote many of its episodes. Does it surprise you that his character is the main one? Why would a show creator cast himself as the main character of a show?

  • If this show waeren't called Atlanta, would you know where it was set? How do movies and TV shows telegraph their settings? How can you tell if the show is actually filmed in the place it's set?

TV details

Character Strengths

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For kids who love dramedy

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