Welcome to Long Story Short, your guide to the show that everyone’s talking about. Whether you’ve got 10 seconds or 3 minutes, we’ll take you straight from blagger to boffin…
Atlanta is a fresh, frank and funny “dramedy” following Earnest “Earn” Marks (Donald Glover), a Princeton University dropout whose life is stuck in a tedious rut. Critics are already calling it one of the best new shows of the year, so get it on your radar ASAP!
So what exactly is a “dramedy”?
Atlanta is part of a new ilk of shows walking the fine line between comedy and drama. Also known as the “sadcom”, they shine a light on the dark, brutal realities of everyday existence. Earn is technically homeless and struggles to support his child. But it’s not all doom and gloom – clever writing gives the show plenty of texture with enough dry humour to dehydrate an aquarium.
Who’s in it?
Star, writer and creator Donald Glover (below) has written for 30 Rock, appeared in cult comedy Community and starred in films including Magic Mike XXL and The Martian. Keep your eyes peeled for him as young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo Star Wars spin-off film, too. Oh, and he raps under the name of Childish Gambino. Phew, talk about a Renaissance man!
Childish what now?
Under said guise, he is a Grammy-nominated artist who got his pseudonym from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator.
Where else?! So who’s he joined by in the show?
Brian Tyree Henry (part of the original stage cast of The Book Of Mormon) plays Earn’s rapper cousin Paper Boi. Zazie Beetz (Easy) is Earn’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child. Keith Stanfield – who gave an uncanny performance as Snoop Dogg in Straight Outta Compton – plays Paper Boi’s curiously profound right-hand man, Darius.
But is it any good?
Believe the hype! The show’s ratings broke records after just three episodes aired on US TV. Atlanta’s been praised for pushing the boundaries of traditional genres and proving to conservative studio executives that diversity-driven shows (alongside the likes of Master Of None and Black-ish) do appeal to mainstream audiences.
Don’t expect big-budget sets and furiously paced plots. The idea is simple. The script isn’t polished. Yet The Independent has described it as “one of, if not the, best new show this year”. GQ has praised Glover for his “buckets of talent”, with Atlanta “the weird canvas he’s going to splash it over”. Our verdict after a sneak peek at the first two episodes? Simply brilliant.
A very wise decision. It’s already been renewed for a second season, so you have lots to look forward to. But first, check out six other critically acclaimed US shows hitting our shores…
The family sitcom with a twist
Watch Black-ish, weekdays, 7.30pm, E4/HD (CH 144/145). Also available for 7 days in Catch Up > Channels > All 4
Meet the Johnsons. They are a wealthy African-American family living in an affluent neighbourhood. The sitcom follows the father, advertising executive Andre (Law & Order‘s Anthony Anderson). He repeatedly undergoes identity crises – often perpetuated by his grumbling father, played by Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), who also executive produces the show. It’s warm, funny and racking up the awards.
What the critics say: “Yes, Black-ish can be fiercely funny, sharply observed, and unfailingly good-humored about the racial divide. But just beyond that glossy surface is a serious and even compelling undercurrent.” Newsday
You’re The Worst season 2 returns to 5 STAR in Spring 2017. Set your WishList™ now!
Fans of Netflix’s Love should get involved with this cynical look at mates and dates for a group of 30-somethings living in LA. Laced with storylines about post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression, the show has been repeatedly praised for its depictions of mental health. Laughter is life’s best medicine. With ratings website Rotten Tomatoes giving season 2 a 97 per cent approval rating, and season 3 a 100 per cent approval rating, it’s a must-watch.
What the critics say: “You’re the Worst immediately finds what all comedies hope for: character chemistry and a certain zing to the writing, transcending its naughtiest nature with a disarming taste of sweetness.” Washington Post
The next generation of sci-fi
Watch The Expanse. Find it on Netflix now
This space opera is set 200 years in the future, when mankind has colonised the solar system. A detective and a ship’s captain come together to find a missing young woman, but they get more than they bargained for when they blow the whistle on the biggest conspiracy in human history.
What the critics say: “The Expanse is pure space opera with political and cultural undertones.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The unlikely crime thriller
Watch Timeless, coming to E4 soon. Set your WishList™ now!
Imagine 11.22.63 mixed with Doctor Who, and you’ll be close to this sci-fi drama about a stolen time machine. It’s down to the motley crew of a history professor, bodyguard and engineer to go back in time and stop the thief from changing the course of history.
What the critics say: “It’s an infectious, engaging hour that sets up the rules of this universe efficiently and effectively.” Newark Star-Ledger
The musical hitting all the right notes
Watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Find seasons on Netflix now with new episodes from season 2 arriving weekly
When we say musical, you probably think of the umbrella twirling of Singing In The Rain or cute love stories à la Grease. But they can be subversive tales of bitterness, neurosis and stalking, as is the case with this Emmy award-winning musical comedy. Rebecca is an over-achieving New York lawyer, who packs it all in on the off-chance her teenage sweetheart wants to get back together. Rachel Bloom bagged a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Rebecca.
What the critics say: “Crazy is an out-of-the-blue surprise and an out-of-the-box treasure.” USA Today
Atlanta airs as double bills on Saturdays from 10pm on FOX (CH 157) and FOX HD (CH 199). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > FOX
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