To say that Atlanta was a success would be a tremendous understatement. The FX series—created, written, and produced by Donald Glover—tells the story of Earnest "Earn" Marks, a "homeless" Princeton University dropout and father of one who opts to manage his rapping cousin Alfred a.k.a. Paper Boi. Season 1 depicted Justin Bieber as an angsty black teen, featured a celebrity driving an actual invisible car, and played a soundtrack with the likes of Migos and Kodak Black—and that's just the half of it. Built on the strength of well-written, intriguing story arcs and actors who portray their characters with conviction, Atlanta's Golden Globes win for Best Television Series (Musical or Comedy) was well-earned.
The series' upcoming second season, subtitled as "Robbin' Season" (based on the city's spiked crime rate during the holiday season), doesn't seem to be so happy-go-lucky this time around. Yes, we want to see the continued misadventures of Earnest, Alfred, Darius, and Vanessa; they're great characters to watch, that's why Season 2 should continue to explore the city and culture of Atlanta. As giant a platform that Donald Glover has now, it would be a shame to not see this come to fruition. Below are five things we'd like to see in Atlanta: Robbin' Season.
Spoiler Warning: This article contains Season 1 spoilers.
5 | The next level of Earn's growth
At the start of the series, Earnest's life is at a dead end. Proclaiming to be homeless, as he can't afford a place and is no longer welcome in his parents' house, he sporadically lives with Vanessa and their daughter Lotti. But by the season finale, Earn is providing for his family and sleeping in a place of his own, even if that "place" is a unit in a storage facility. The aspiring manager's happy ending was a well-deserved one, peacefully closing out a stressful first chapter where nearly every episode found him at his wit's end. In doing so, the show allowed Earnest to gradually grow into manhood, while also building more rapport with his cousin Alfred, who distrusted him in the series premiere. In the finale, Vanessa seemed excited by the prospect of a maturing Earn, and so are we.
4 | Ahmad White
In a show that is constantly catching viewers off guard, Ahmad White is one of the biggest mysteries. You may not know him by name, but his face and demeanor are unmistakable. Ahmad White first appears in the series premiere. Earnest had just spent his savings on getting his cousin's single "Paper Boi" to play at a local station, and he was riding a bus home with his daughter in his lap. A then-unnamed man tells Earn that his mind is racing, and tells Earn to speak his mind. As Earn states "I just keep losing," the man prepares a Nutella sandwich for Earn and gives him a vague piece of advice: "Resistance is a symptom of the way things are, not the way they necessarily should be. Actual victory belongs to things that simply do not see failure." He then offers Earn a bite of the sandwich, and disappears from the bus as a police cruiser passes, resurfacing outside to walk into the woods with the equally mysterious dog that Darius pointed out in the episode's opening scene.
The "B.A.N." episode, which depicts a cable access channel, reveals the bowtie-wearing mystery man to be Ahmad White, whom "you may know from your dreams." A commercial features him offering a hotline that brings spiritual enlightenment to callers, with testimonials from men and women who found victory in his guidance. On the other end of the chance to align your chakras is a Nutella sandwich and juice, of course, backed by testimonials of similar success at a very different degree. Ahmad White certainly seems to be a looming presence in the universe of Atlanta, and a peek into the surrealist Twin Peaks influences that the show hinted at last season.
3 | The next step in Paper Boi's career
When we meet Alfred, he's an underground emcee with a bit of a buzz. He sells drugs, gets high, and hangs out with his best friend Darius, while being much more in tune with his thoughts and emotions than he lets on (or may even be aware of). But things began to look up for Paper Boi once Earn was able to get his self-titled single on the radio. Throughout the show's ten-episode stretch, Paper Boi was getting booked for shows, wilding out with a black Justin Bieber at a celebrity basketball game, suffering through club appearances, and engaging in social media feuds. But at the end of the season finale, he had collected a profit to share with his trusty manager. Where will his rap career go next? And how will that pesky shooting charge from Episode 1 factor in? Speaking of which...
2 | What happened to Dude?
We never find out what happened to "Dude" after seemingly taking a bullet in the opening minutes of season premiere "The Big Bang." In episode two, Earn and Alfred sit in lock up for the shooting. Laughing at the justice system and settling on the concept of being arrested for the first time, Earn asks Alfred, "You think he's dead, man?" Later in the "Streets on Lock" episode, Alfred and Darius encounter an enthusiastic chicken joint employee who reveals his admiration for Paper Boi as "one of the last real rappers" because of the shooting. The perception behind the shooting plays a major role in the Paper Boi mythology. The streets (and Twitter) seem to believe Paper Boi pulled the trigger; so, we ask, what happened to dude? And how will his survival or demise affect Alfred's fate?
1 | The Swisher Man
On top of invisible cars, the four Migos, and a trans-racial teenager, one of the show's edgier moments comes in "The Streisand Effect" episode. Shooting pool in the midst of a social media feud with ethnic-mystery Zan, Alfred is told by the bartender that a man came by in search of the buzzing rapper:
"Somebody was in here looking for you today. Waiting when I opened. No, he wasn't Dominican. I don't think. But he was different. Shaved side of his head. Pink jacket. And he wasn't a friend. Sitting in his car when I opened up. Dodge Challenger, 70's tan. Cleaner than the board of health. I'll tell you, smoking a swisher, with no weed. Guy gave me the creeps."
Since we weren't given anything else to go on, we'll that quote flow through your spine just as chillingly as it did ours.
'Atlanta: Robbin' Season' premieres March 1 on FX.