‘Atlanta’ season three first reviews: “The show’s boldest narrative experiment yet”

Donald Glover’s acclaimed series returns by leaving Atlanta altogether

The first reviews for Atlanta season three have praised the show’s return after a four-year absence.

Created by and starring Donald Glover, Atlanta is a comedy-drama series that has received critical acclaim for its subversive writing and performances. The show follows Earn (Glover) and rapper Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) as they navigate the Atlanta rap scene, alongside Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) and Van (Zazie Beetz).

In the third season, the show shifts location from Atlanta to Europe as Paper Boi embarks on a rap tour. The opening episode, titled ‘Three Slaps’, doesn’t actually feature the main characters, while the second episode is set within Amsterdam.

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In a review of the first two episodes from The New York Times, the show is described as being in “top form” despite the location shift, which goes “to new places while maintaining that unsettling sense of never knowing how the ground might shift”.

The review reads: “The two episodes sent to critics for reviews are a mere peek, but they give no sign of the show’s having lost a step in the past four years. Maybe the pause simply gave the future time to catch up.”

An ‘A-’ review from Entertainment Weekly said the opening episode contained “the show’s boldest narrative experiment yet”. It reads: “There are laugh-out-loud moments right alongside skin-crawling bits of social awkwardness, plus some outright shocks. Everything has changed, but Atlanta minus Atlanta is still Atlanta.”

IndieWire highlighted the differences between the two opening episodes, which both premiere on FX in the US on Thursday, March 24. “Episode one demands a few viewings. Episode two is mainly catch-up and table-setting, but the dry wit, playful scenes, and exquisite direction (Emmy and DGA Award nominee Hiro Murai helms the first two episodes) are all still here, all still honed,” it reads.

Another glowing review from Time adds: “Unsparing is, among others, the right word to describe these two conjoined episodes, if not the show as a whole. It justifies the persistence of Atlanta, an entire ocean away from Atlanta.”

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Both seasons three and four of Atlanta were filmed back-to-back after production was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The fourth and final season is scheduled to air later this year.

Glover recently spoke about his decision to end the show after season four. “All good things end,” he told Variety. “It felt like it was time to end. I don’t like it when people [are] 40 pretending like they’re 15 and shit. It’s annoying.”

Atlanta season three premieres on FX in the US on Thursday, March 24. The first two seasons are available to stream in the UK on Disney+, with a release date for the third yet to be announced.

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