Atlanta Writers Breakdown The Show’s Best Scenes

A surrealist comedy from the mind of Donald Glover (Childish Gambino, Community), also starring Brian Tyree Henry as Paper Boi, LaKeith Stanfield as Darius, and Zazie Beetz as Van, the FX comedy series Atlanta recently wrapped with its Season 4 final episode. Atlanta the series uses its funny take on the Atlanta rap scene as the foundation for discussions of community, race, social media, and the music industry.

Before the show joins the archives of our favorite cult classic TV series and films, we interviewed writer/producers Jamal Olori and Taofik Kolade, who explained some of the best scenes from Atlanta, including Black Justin Bieber, Teddy Perkins, and that wild cameo from Alexander Skarsgard. As it turns out, reality is so bizarre, sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

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Atlanta is absolutely brilliant in its Avant-garde depiction of everyday life Told mostly through the perspective of Its four main characters Ern Alfred Darius and Van the series Often employs small town southern tropes As a means to decipher its Larger than Life subject matter In a league of its own the writing Manages to feel both irreverent and Authentic while reveling in a unique Brand of surrealism that poignantly Conveys the show's social commentary As the series approached its finale we Chatted with writer producers Jamal Olori and telfi kolade about some of Atlanta's most memorable moments foreign I am a producer and a writer on the show Atlanta hey I'm tafiq kolade and I am a Writer and producer for Atlanta yeah That's a short version It is pretty wild to me the series Upholds a distinct aesthetic while Highlighting a broad range of Socio-political issues we've got poverty The failures of the Foster system white Guilt microaggressions far-right Fanaticism gun violence the pitfalls of Success and plenty more But arguably one of Atlanta's biggest Strengths is its Artful depiction of These deep-seated cultural issues Through the different genres of Comedy Drama surrealism and horror

I think humor serves as a narrative Vehicle for Atlanta in ways where that Was something from the beginning we Always would say that a lot of times With pain you kind of have to laugh to Get through it when you don't have a lot Of options this hugs your father No these sorts of realities are just Part of life for some people it's not Always coming from that place of like oh We have to talk about this but it's just Like this stuff happens you know like This is life this is what people are Experiencing so like that's that's part Of why we want to focus on it you know That's why we include it but we just Wanted to you know build something That's kind of baked in that pain but It's also just enjoyable which fulfills A lot of like you know the black Experience and in a lot of ways you know Kind of making lemons or lemonade lemons Essentially and that makes Atlanta one Fruitful lemonade stand the series Serves up a few ice cold glasses in the Form of season 2's north of the border And season three's three slacks and Center classes coming to town which all Approach the topic of casual racism with The clever use of perspective to subvert A more typical narrative Instagram today that Rihanna used the Phrase spirit animal no please please Tell me that Rihanna is an indigenous

Person and I just don't know it We got a comment on that right I was Like stuff that we find Shocking are the things that are going To grab our attention three three slaps Three slap honestly you probably Wouldn't have happened if not for the Internet video that like prompted it all Of like this father in a school like Slapping his child which is not funny But the way he does it like is sort of Funny especially coming from someone you Know my perspective of somebody who was Like also like beat as a child as a way Of sort of being punished I don't want to hear it You know obviously we I don't think we Started that story with the horrific you Know real life events of Um that family but it was you know Because of this other thing we found Really funny it gave us a way in to talk About that other like really horrible Story if not for that the comedy element If not for that like that one spark that Video that really like we all thought Was hilarious Um it you know that episode may not it May not have existed we may not have we May not have been able to find a way to Do it in a satisfying and like not Traumatic you know sort of way All right toward the end of season two An unfortunate run-in on a University

Campus finds Al Ern Darius and their Cousin Tracy at a frat house in the Midst of a disturbing hazing ritual A large Confederate flag antique guns And naked white men in hoods all set the Tone for a scene so uneasy you have to Chuckle to Shake It Off I gotta tell you man you're like One of my two favorite rappers yo you Can post Malone Back in season three and Center class is Coming to town our Dutch perpetrators Seem even more clueless to their own Transgressions claiming an unlikely Origin of blackface for a folk hero Hey what's up you all ready Yeah Um I'll handle this you guys go on which Leaves us wondering if it really is Possible for an entire culture to be so Oblivious to a legacy of racism or if There is something more Sinister at play Here Something we kind of got lucky with and Figured out early on was Um just baking a lot of those issues and Just racism and true stories because a Lot of times people have those moments But you don't really get to talk about Them or there's no platform for it Leaning into an ambitious experimental Style the showrunners have mastered the Language to discuss these divisive

Issues without hitting the audience over The head with their moral compass and All by infusing a healthy dose of you Know a lot of us were from Atlanta and Like the the Deep South so we've just Had a lot of just you know strange Experiences with people where it's like In the moments they just failed off but Then later when you had a chance to kind Of process everything you're like oh Okay you knew there were some more Underlying you know issues going on and Then from there and talking with each Other we kind of got to kind of break Them down in ways that kind of weren't As like dark and painful what do you Think are the chances that that guy's Gonna kill us when I sleep Honestly Eight eight percent and then a lot of Times just got to like laugh about it Because it was like the past and then From there we just LED them into just Other stories and just tried to make it As enjoyable as possible but like I said Just coming from a real and an honest Place to start so we got that invisible Car What No we don't we do it's like a prototype So I'm like look Dick man That ain't real man we wanted to to Feel a little bit like fantasy from time

To time in terms of just embellishing How certain things feel but also I think A big thing was just making sure Everything felt grounded so that way It'll be a lot more enjoyable like you Know an example that's you know kind of Like the invisible car season one and I Think that was like a pivotal point in Like our show because it was just a very Extraordinary thing that didn't make Sense and could have just been stupid Essentially until you saw the invisible Car run people over and then that's when You're like oh no like this is like a Real that's actually what would happen So I think it was mostly about just Making sure everything stayed honest and Grounded Even in our our surrealism we Just we just always wanted to just Create a very just elastic world and Just a very free creative space a for us To where you know if we had any crazy Ideas it wouldn't seem too off base Because people are expecting us to do Crazy things the series often references Current events like season 4's Incorrigible wheelchair stalker multiple Shootouts rabbit bloggers and Young Artist desks but approaches the cultural Zeitgeist in ominous horrifying and Hilarious ways as an accurate albeit Exaggerated depiction of the time the Absurdity of our reality is often Bizarre in us and Atlanta's Riders

Deliberately lean in when it comes to Discussing these sorts of things You you know we're not trying to be a News story we're not trying to you know Like You kind of have to think about like What's what are you trying to go for Like what is it that you want your Audience to feel like what is it that You want them to sort of take away from This playing with the audience's point Of view lends itself to a subjectivity Aligned with the character's personal Expression and reformats our Understanding of what's possible in this Particular offshoot of reality Do you want them to sort of hear about Some like horrible thing that happened To some people who may or may not look Like them or do you want them to step Inside the shoes of another perspective Do you want them to like you know go on A journey do you want them to hear it to Feel to live a story you know and I Think yeah it always this comes it comes Into like POV in perspective Um you know when you make it personal You know it's you're you're already Doing that work you know you don't have To be on a soapbox and like you know if You're telling a story of someone who's Like living with this issue you're Talking about the issue you know Regardless of how the story goes and so

I again I think that's you know it is a Bit more of an organic approach I guess But I think that's that's how we'd start You know typically like who's the Character who is the person that's you Know that something is happening to like Who's going through this and like let's Start there let's start with like what They see in their perspective and like How does that sort of dictate the story Or how the story is going to go yeah I Think that's you know I think that's the Best place to start when you're trying To approach these topics without Sounding like a PSA with today's news Cycle moving so quickly and cancel Culture alive and strong the series Makes Bold strides in showcasing Recognizable movements and specific Historical events with the modern Twist Of social media as an important player In everyday interaction the triviality Of Internet culture provides levity and A breath of fresh air in between bits of Laughter me down and Steve grew up Together and we just joked about just so Many things over the years and just Seeing it is like it's like it feels Good but it's also just it's also just Funny we're always constantly sharing Videos that we find funny like not even Stuff that goes viral like not even Stuff that like I don't know most people Would find funny I'd say like we we just

Share stuff that's surprising like Things that are sort of shocking or Unexpected Um like that that gives us a kick and Provides us a inspiration I think a lot Of it was just living in the internet Age and with like memes and everything Else it's like we all share a group chat Together the internet kind of changed Comedy you know Um like the idea of like memes Um juxtaposing just two random images For commuting effect like that's Something that didn't really exist you Know before and as sort of significant a Form I guess all of that to say like It's just the internet kind of created Its own I mean it is its own kind of Medium but it also it changed comedy a Bit and so Um I think what's tough now is Translating that to TV yeah social media Is important obviously but like just Because it's a part of everyday life Like we wanted to sort of portray that Aspect Foreign Luckily having like Donald kind of like Leading us he would kind of make Everybody feel a lot more comfortable With things where he would just say like Like yeah he's like no put this on me Where he's like you know they'll come After me essentially and then I think

That gave us all just you know help us All be a little bit more Brave and kind Of taking a lot of those those bigger Swings throughout the series The Audience is introduced to characters With striking similarities celebrities And other popular icons Season one's black Justin Bieber a very Memorable Teddy Perkins in Season Two Season three's Clark County and most Recently young white avatars and Mr Chocolate in season four I do not understand it's Wants and needs nor do I control them But how much of these characters is Parody and how much is truth You know I think just parody in general Has to start in in Truth at a certain Level so I think in terms of being Inspired those characters all just came From just real things and real moments And then from there it was us just kind Of pushing the envelope of just how Crazy these things could seem to put More like a spotlight on it It is Justin Bieber The black Justin Bieber for example it's Like all the things he was doing and Saying and acting like Justin Bieber Fully went through that phase and Granted it was definitely you know crazy To watch for everybody but he still Wasn't fully like punished for like a Lot of it and we just thought you know

It would be a lot more jarring if you Just had this kind of unapologetic like Black kid doing those things so like it Just it just looks and it feels Different mommy did he Teddy Perkins is by far one of the Series most popular one-off characters Serving as a clear reference to Michael Jackson if he lived in a freaky spin-off Of whatever happened to Baby Jane meets The Invisible Man Teddy Perkins and And those other characters it was about Just kind of showing certain cultural Things that that like we go through but In like a different lens like whether it Be just like more fun and just like Embellishing more to make people laugh Or just to get deeper into why these Things kind of happen the way that they Did that there's no kind of platforms to Be able to talk about it like you Definitely saw the character and you Know it was funny it was scary and you Know everybody knows the similarities of Who that was but then it rolled into a Thing of like how did he get like this Essentially like you know what was his Childhood like and then you start to you Can think about things from a different You know deeper perspective of like yeah We saw all of this but then you start to Jump into like the house and the wise One of the recurring themes of the show

Is grappling with identity through the Lens of success in the music industry For Alan earn as a mother and young Black woman for van and Darius Consistently floats through his own Spiritual journey I've been roaming the Streets I since Twilight This city is my Jesus Sort of how you form your identity it Ends up being you know how you shape Your life like what you what you work Towards and what you're moving towards Yeah some corny dude what No this is a great environment for you Batting at having the characters sort of Like working through this Um and figuring this out like again it's It's I think it's true to real life like I'm I'm thinking really of their Journey From I don't know Seasons to onward Season one onward really like getting Outside of the states getting to Europe Coming back home you know in season four It's been like just so many impactful Just just moments and also I think that Was the time that we were really like You know gloves off So we just did a lot of just like yeah We just we kind of didn't hold back in a Lot of ways no he's just making up That's all right I mean I think like You're living with characters over the Course of a few seasons and so you can Sort of you know audiences can sort of I

Think project You know a bit of what this character May be sort of feeling as far as like Them capturing or recapturing or Identifying their identity All right season three's finale Harare Is a perfect break from reality Showcasing Vans deranged Journey to Find Herself in an amelie-esque Paris Honestly that was her whole journey for Season three Was basically all the things she wanted And she thought she was right about Where she was so hard on iron like the Previous years where it's like stop Chasing these dreams that all these Black men Chase and fail and like take Care of your child and everything else And he kind of went against the grain And didn't listen to her when meanwhile Her who's done all the right things it's Like you know she's a dead-end jobs She's like she's not happy and then she Sees his life and then she tries she's Like why did that work out for you Essentially so you kind of see it it get Almost out of control where it's it's Sprinkled in the whole season three see She's just doing things like very Radically and she almost feels like a Person possessed and then by the time we Get to the Terraria you could see just Her in Europe she's lived this whole Entire

Like other life essentially that she's Created where it feels like she's been There like her whole life but then you Also see she's extremely out of control And then but her grounding Force ends up Being like the thing that she left back Home which is Lottie and her life there Don't you ever Do that again The series generates unexpected cameos That will have you questioning the Sanity of big names like Kat Williams Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard How good is this on I'm gonna listen to it on repeat all day Well in the beginning it was very hard Because people didn't know what the show Was or what we were trying to do but I Just think over the years people started To just know like enjoy it and like you Know start to understand some of those References and then from there it just Became you know different people just Reaching out and it's just finding the Most creative ways we could use people And that was actually supposed to be Ryan Dawson but he ended up having to do Something else at the time and then like Again Skarsgard was even just as crazy If not crazier because we didn't even Really know previously he was a fan of The show and everything else but then as Soon as you know we kind of heard that He was into it and also you know he's a

He's an incredible actor essentially we Just knew people would be like what is Happening Like right now and especially you know With him like playing himself and then Just embellishing like his life and Everything else it just felt like just Very fun real estate Um to play in you grow up in Trinidad or Jamaica Oh it's Trinidad and Tobago I know I'm from Tribeca Oh Your accent so It's so strong Another irreverent Cameo choice is Chet Hanks in season three's Trinity to Debunk in our version of reality you Know the real actual reality Chet Rose To infamy for speaking in a Patois Accent in viral social media videos in An episode focused on the death of a Trinidadian Nanny he shows up as a Symbol of what could have been He was a very a very very important Piece of that that episode just because He kind of shows it was just a weird Thing where it's like that um you know The younger character it's essentially Him Where it's like you kind of see how like This young boy has all these these Influences now and you know he has all These these Trinidadian you know

Influences and he wants to kind of learn More about that culture and everything Else and his parents can't fully show Him that but with like the internet age It's like he could decide to be and Choose like anything he wants so in a Certain level it feels like you know I Don't fully know um Chuck Hanks is um Like his history and how he rolled into Being super immersed in Black Culture But it's like you know this is this is Tom hanks's son where it doesn't feel Like a normal path essentially but then When you start to kind of look deeper Into it where he's like you're like yeah Like how was he raised like who was he Spending all his time around and then That could kind of show you that like Past the jokes and you know that episode Feeling creepy and Airy and everything Else there's a certain honest truth There that's literally in your face Where one of the biggest actors of all Time times like sun has a Jamaican Accent it's like how does that happen And then through the episode we kind of Show you how that that could happen in a Certain way All in all Atlanta does a good job of Grounding its wackiness and realism or Some semblance of it at least as its Final touch the series finale gives the Audience a deeper glimpse into the Niles Of darius's wandering mind hey this is a

Little tough because it's not you know As far as like his journey you know but You know about to not to ruin anything But like I don't know maybe maybe we get A piece a piece a bit more of his Journey in this in this finale episode So this this finale which might be my my Favorite Atlanta episode series finale I I was I was really satisfied I think Endings are really hard and with the Show like hours you know we kind of Could have done it in any we could have Taken we can we can take it in any Direction you know and I think that Makes it even more challenging but I I Just I feel really proud about uh Especially the last couple Seasons but Especially the season four finale I'm Really happy that everybody got to enjoy The show as a whole and you know I know A lot of people are disappointed with it Ending but you know we still have we're Going to put out other other stories and Other you know more content just you Know dealing in being in the in the same World essentially

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