Donald Glover’s latest television brainchild, this dramedy series stormed out of the gates and has lived up to the hype it garnered over the past couple of years. Featuring a strong yet relatively unknown cast that includes Glover himself, “Atlanta” paints a vivid, gritty picture of its namesake city that makes viewers feel like they were born and raised there. The show focuses on two cousins, Earn Marks, played by Glover, and Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles, played by Brian Henry, as the pair sets off to conquer the Atlanta rap scene. As poignant as it is hilarious, “Atlanta” is unafraid of making you laugh and take a hard look at society at the same time. While the critically acclaimed first season just recently ended, you can catch “Atlanta” through various online outlets.
“The Get Down”
Another show that revolves around music, “The Get Down” is a colorful, beautiful production textured with surrealism. This should come as no surprise, considering that the show was created by Baz Luhrmann, the man behind fantastical films “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby.” Taking place in the Bronx in the late 1970s, the Netflix series is filled with characters and environments that jump off the screen. Justice Smith, who stars as Ezekiel, delivers an impressive performance as a seemingly stone-cold poet and MC, while Shameik Moore of “Dope” fame effortlessly makes viewers realize they’ll never be nearly as cool as his character, Shaolin Fantastic. “The Get Down” weaves a beautiful and young love story with a tragic tale of ambition in the urban warzone of the Bronx.
Let’s kick it up a notch. Having now entered its second season, Narcos is a high-octane thrill ride that takes viewers through the rise and fall of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, including both sides of the narrative. The series never uses violence as a crutch; rather, it uses violence as an exclamation mark to drive each episode’s climax straight into the viewer’s gut. For the most part, “Narcos” is a slow burn. The series weaves in and out of the drama and psychology behind building, defending and dismantling the biggest drug empire the world has ever seen. Wagner Moura is a spine-chilling Escobar. He portrays the drug lord’s sensitive side just as well as he portrays the vicious, while Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal nail the roles of the DEA agents restlessly trying to take Escobar down. For viewers who crave high-stakes action or are simply interested in the cocaine trade during the 1980s, “Narcos” is a sure pick.