‘Atlanta’ poised for farewell hug from Emmys

“Atlanta” is bowing out with a final season and hoping to earn one last Best Comedy Series nomination after a stellar run at the Emmys.

Donald Glover‘s hit FX show, which he created, co-writes, co-directs, and stars in follows the multi-hyphenate as Earn, who tries to help his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) make a career as a rapper in Atlanta named Paper Boi. Across the show’s run, they and Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) come across various issues that touch on money, race, relationship, status, and parenthood.

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The show has moments of real drama and has received acclaim for its distinct brand of eccentric humor, driven by Glover. With moments of bizarre surrealness, the show is idiosyncratic in its ideas and executions and is one of the most unique shows from one of the most impressive storytellers out there.

The show has always been well-received and its fourth and final season, which will be hoping to compete at this year’s Emmys, is no different. It received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98%, the same score as its first and second seasons. Season three dipped slightly with 96%. But season four has been received oh so well by critics.

Judy Berman (Time Magazine) wrote: “Along with Glover’s typical keen social commentary and surreal humor, the season did right by the show’s central characters, yielding precisely the thoughtful and moving, if not necessarily happily-ever-after, resolutions they deserved.”

Aaron Neuwirth (We Live Entertainment) observed: “This all boils down to being another example of the black experience and what that entails for people given certain opportunities. Yes, it’s taken to extremes, but the comedy is as sharp as it needs to be, and the commitment by the cast is great.”

Justin Charity (The Ringer) called the show “Donald Glover’s masterwork,” writing: “Atlanta always gave us something to puzzle over, and that was a great gift. Even the most supposedly digressive episodes struck upon some lingering nuance.” He continued: “It’s easy, prestige-brained flattery to compare Donald Glover to David Chase and David Lynch. Better yet, in the fullness of its six-year exploration of ‘the culture,’ I’d rank ‘Atlanta’ right up there with Dave Chappelle’s Show, ‘The Boondocks,’ and yes even, I suppose, ‘A Goofy Movie.'”

LaToya Ferguson (The Wrap) explained: “Season 4 is not just a return to form but also a combination of everything the series has pulled off and learned over the years. It’s ‘Twins Peaks’ with rappers but also a direct-to-video ‘Tiny Toon Adventures’ movie and also a Black fairytale (and white nightmare). It combines all the comedy and horror and surrealism of the first three seasons, as that is the visual language of the series to make something that is worth remembering fondly.”

And Ross Bonaime (Collider) proclaimed: “In returning to where they began in Season 4, ‘Atlanta’ seems to be bookending this series by looking back at all its accomplishments, and in these first three episodes, we can already see how much this show has changed in four seasons. After the globe-trotting tales of Season 3 and the expanding of this world with other characters, it feels nice to be back at home with these four on their own, older, more contemplative, yet still stuck in their own wild adventures. ‘Atlanta’ ends where it begins, but over these years, ‘Atlanta’ has shown such growth and evolution, making it one of the most inventive, wholly unique visions on television.”

All of this critical acclaim suggests that the series could be in for a sweet farewell from the Emmys. Currently, the show sits just outside of our predicted eight nominees for Best Comedy Series: “Wednesday,” “Poker Face,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Barry,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “The Bear,” “Abbott Elementary,” and “Ted Lasso.”

“Barry” and “Maisel” are the other shows that have now ended and are hoping for some final rewards from the Emmys. However, there are several indicators that “Atlanta” could well sneak into this line-up.

First, Emmy voters tend to like familiarity in this category. In the last five years, only 10 shows have received bids for their debut seasons. They were: “Maisel” (winner, 2018), “Barry” (2018), “GLOW” (2018), “Russian Doll” (2019), “Ted Lasso” (winner, 2021), “Emily in Paris” (2021), “The Flight Attendant” (2021), “Hacks” (2021), “Abbott Elementary” (2022), and “Only Murders in the Building” (2022). That’s just 10 nominations out of 39 slots that have gone to inaugural seasons. This suggests that “Wednesday” and “Poker Face,” which we think are on the precipice of securing a nomination, may struggle to get in. Meanwhile, “Atlanta” has four, solid, respected seasons under its belt, and the Emmys like that.

Plus, they might just want to reward a show that they’ve clearly enjoyed a lot over the past three seasons. In total, “Atlanta” has received 25 Emmy nominations including two Best Comedy Series bids for its first two outings (in 2017 and 2018, respectively). It has won six Emmys in total: Best Comedy Directing and Best Comedy Actor for Glover in 2017; Best Best Comedy Guest Actor for Katt Williams in 2018; and, in 2022, a second award Best

And Glover’s multi-hyphenate status helps a lot here — Emmy voters cannot resist someone who takes on multiple roles in the creation of a TV show. “Fleabag” won six Emmys in total including Best Comedy Series, Best Comedy Writing, and Best Comedy Actress for Phoebe Waller-Bridge in 2019. She created the show, wrote it, and starred in it. Meanwhile, in 2022, “Abbott Elementary” won three Emmys including one for Best Comedy Writing for Quinta Brunson. Brunson, who created, wrote, and stars in the show, was also nominated for Best Comedy Actress and Best Comedy Series. And “Schitt’s Creek” creators Dan and Eugene Levy led the show to nine Emmy victories in total, including Best Comedy Series, Best Comedy Actor for Eugene, and Best Comedy Supporting Actor and Best Comedy Writing for Dan. They love a creative that can do anything, and Glover is one of them. They will want to reward him for his outstanding work on this show with a culminating Best Comedy Series bid.

And here’s one last bit of good news — that aforementioned 98% Rotten Tomatoes for season four is one of the highest scores of any of the competing seasons in the shows we are predicting will land a nomination in this category. Here’s the breakdown: “Wednesday”‘s debut season sits on a shaky 71%, “Poker Face” season one is on 99%, season two of “Only Murders in the Building” is on 98%, “The Bear” season one scored an impressive 100%, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” season five scored 94%, the final season of “Barry” has 97%, the lowest score out of the show’s four seasons, “Abbott Elementary” season two achieved 100%, and “Ted Lasso” season three was graded at 81%, a significant drop from its first two seasons. So only three out of the eight shows scored higher than “Atlanta.” Watch this space for Glover and company.

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