Goodbye, winter caps—hello, summer hats! It’s that glorious time of year where many of us can switch from content creators to content consumers. NYWIFT members Mellini Kantayya and Kathryn O’Kane have put together #SummerHours, a series of fun summer books, movies, and TV shows by or about women.
This award-winning series by Donald Glover is about a Princeton drop-out who returns home and tries to manage his cousin’s burgeoning rap career while marginally helping his on-and off-again girlfriend Van with their toddler. But that’s just the premise. The show’s magic (figuratively and literally) lies in the low-key ensemble cast that Glover has curated. Just watch Brian Tyree Henry embody the complicated cousin Alfred aka Paper Boi, a rapper unsure of his new-found celebrity. The New York Times says “Atlanta is one of the best cast and most brightly acted shows of any kind on TV.”
I recently attended a Q&A where Glover described the show as “Twin Peaks for rappers,” and I’d say that’s pretty apt. Just spend some time in the location itself where Country meets City meets Black Hollywood meets the Bible Belt. The half-hour comedy is as funny as it is weird, and Glover is proud of the weirdness.
Auben Wise as Jayde (left) and Zazie Beetz as Van (right) in Atlanta for FX (2016)
The entire series is binge-worthy, but for the purpose of #SummerHours, the episode to watch is “Value” written by Stefani Robinson. As the AV Club observes, “It makes such a huge difference to know that someone with insights about how black women communicate contributed to an episode that mostly consists of black women communicating and mis-communicating.” “Value” takes a break from the main narrative with the guys and settles in with Van reuniting with an old friend from college. The eight-minute dinner exchange between the two women is gripping – there’s a class thing at play here as well as gender politics. And the whole scene drips with the authenticity of two friends “who love each other but don’t really like each other.”
Atlanta will be available to stream on Hulu ahead of its second season premiere in 2018.
(Cover photo by Bridgette Matthews)
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This was one of my favorite episodes from this (exceptional) series too.