Well, as you probably know already, the Atlanta gang is back and ready to take a trip overseas during the third season of the FX series. It’s been a long while since we’ve seen Earn (Donald Glover), Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) and Van (Zazzie Beetz), and based on the trailers, it’s going to be a ridiculous romp through Europe as the group accompanies Paper Boi on a foreign tour.
With the show returning this week, now would be a great time to catch up on past seasons. And with that, I got you. Below are six episodes that really explain what Atlanta is–its brilliance, its eccentricities, its hilariousness. Since time is of the essence, check these six and you should be ready for what comes next. I guarantee it.
Season 1, Episode 7
The episode, written by Donald Glover, is one of the first that made the series stand out. It was a combination of things that made it work, which includes Glover’s writing, Brian Tyree Henry’s acting, and the premise: Paper Boi on a talk show called Montague. The questions were ridiculous, and the commercials shown during the episode were priceless. This is Atlanta. This is what you came to see.
Season 1 Episode 8
This episode featured one of the funniest sight gags in the history of the series, if not television itself. Earn and Darius hit Primal Night Club in an attempt to up Paper Boi’s street cred, except an NBA player steals his shine. Darius does typical ridiculous stuff, but it’s the Earn storyline that makes this ep shine. And when the club promoter does everything (and I mean everything) to dodge him, I couldn’t stop laughing. Plus, an invisible car! Yup. Classic.
Season 1 Episode 1
Listen, if the invisible car or the Black Justin Bieber from the first season didn’t get you, “Alligator Man” will certainly do the trick. The second season was tagged as “Robbin’ Season” and throughout each episode we saw weird misdemeanors go down. This first episode of the second season placed the main focus on a domestic disturbance involving Earn’s uncle (played by Katt Williams in a role that won him a primetime Emmy Award), and in a turn that should surprise no one, featured an actual alligator. The show continues to pull no punches.
Season 2 Episode 5
Directed by Glover, this episode is a tour de force, featuring Paper Boi attempting to get a haircut from his regular barber. And honestly, that’s all you need to know. Just sit back and enjoy the antics that ensue. What makes it so funny is that everything that happens isn’t far off from what might happen during one of those visits. Major shout out to Henry’s immaculate afro and facial expressions during this installment. And the barber, Bibby (played hilariously by Robert Powell III) deserves his own award for his performance.
Season 2 Episode 6
Only Darius would answer an ad to pick up a free piano with no means to take it with him. That aside, the episode introduced us to “Teddy Perkins,” a reclusive former child star that plans to turn his mansion into a museum. Written by Glover, who also portrayed Perkins, the episode took a turn from the usual dark comedy that defines Atlanta, and was just dark. Like, midnight dark. Like, Teddy Perkins still haunts my dreams dark. And it still worked. No, for real. I think I watched the ep 20 times. Goodness.
Season 2 Episode 8
I think we already knew how brilliant Henry was, but this episode might’ve sealed the deal. Here, Paper Boi gets questioned, jumped, and then lost. Everything he encounters along the way makes this episode shine. And while there were other episodes that I could’ve chosen to exemplify what Atlanta was all about, this is the one that gives it its soul.
There is so much that makes Atlanta must-see TV. And we didn’t even scratch the surface. Episodes that featured Van and Darius were left out but still stand out on their own. In fact, every episode could probably be placed in honorable mention. Watch these six, and then tune in as Season 3 begins this Thursday. It’s finally time to get the gang back together. This time, overseas.