6 August 2017 | runamokprods
I liked it, and I'm open to coming to love it
Created by and starring Donald Glover (who also directed 2 episodes) I wasn't quite as blown away as most of the critics were. (I think I was over-hyped by the time I watched) but I certainly liked it. For me, the 1st season was pretty uneven from episode to episode, but the stronger episodes are terrific.
It's got more of an old style sitcom approach in terms of structure (not at all tone!); the focus week to week isn't on a big serialized overall story. Each episode has it's own self contained tale within the larger basic set up. Personally, I generally like longer story arcs better even in dramady (e.g. Transparent, etc), but the show is so fresh, odd and creative in other ways that it helps balance out that drawback.
Often very funny and sometimes much larger than life, it also has moments of real emotion and subtlety. The acting is strong all around, and it's a world we haven't seen much before – struggling working class African-Americans friends in their mid/late 20s who are not the tough street kids and dealers from the hood we've seen so many times, but who certainly aren't safe and middle-class either. There are guns and drugs but also jobs and kids and record deals. There's real violence but a lot more threatened violence and posturing. And all the characters and relationships are complicated and multi-leveled.
Glover in particular creates a wonderful protagonist in Earnest. Super smart, open hearted, extremely witty, dead-pan, ambitious but also vulnerable, emotionally confused and a little lost. He's hard not to love and to occasionally be frustrated by (in a good way).
When the story of the week gives the show enough meat to build 30 minutes on, it can be great. When the story is thin, more of a one line joke, the episode tends to feel thin too, sometimes starting to feel padded and/or straining for humor.
But it's an impressive start, when it works it successfully combines social satire and comedy with real feelings and surreal story touches, and feels like one of those shows that has room to grow and deepen in future seasons.