Here's how the log line describes the show:
Two cousins work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families.
The Atlanta music scene means nothing to me but I was curious and tired of clicking the Roku. I punched PLAY.
I was taken to a world I've never known, where everyone is black and speaks street slang in a dialect that was difficult for me to follow. I turned on captions and it helped but I still struggled a bit to understand what was being said and what it meant. Finally, I just sat back and let the characters develop. Before long I was drawn in.
I'm a white man in my middle sixties.
I've never felt any racial animosity but I've always been cautious of cultures outside of my personal experience. We all are. That's just human nature.
Atlanta is just a TV show but in the comfort and safety of my white middle class family room it admitted me to a world I've never known and can't visit in real life.
I watched all ten episodes of the first season and I'm all in. I care about the characters and their relationships. I like them. I want them to succeed. I love seeing their world through their eyes. It has opened mine.
But this isn't a TV review. Here's the point:
At 66 I think I am finally coming to grips with the fact that my youth is all in picture files and shoe boxes now. There's no point in missing it. I can't go back but I can enjoy and learn from my memories with newly earned insights .
Each segment of our lives is a series of doors leading from one place to the next.
At 66, I'm allowed to ease off the pedal. Fewer doors, fewer choices, no hurry. I don't have to immerse myself in long term obligations. My kids are grown and raising their own families. My career is achieved and I can stop reaching for the next rung on the ladder.
In many ways I'm just starting to live life on my terms for the first time. I'm learning to let go of insistence and think about what I want to do just because I want to.
Lately I've enjoyed stocking bird feeders and watching finches jostle for position.
I find myself saying hello to strangers with greater regularity and sincerity.
I leave home for a few days alone to talk with my smarter self and write down what I learn.
If you've not reached this point you have an exciting time of life ahead that you're probably dreading because you think getting old means wearing out. Here's the thing:
Getting old means getting free.
When it happens you'll be amazed by how it clarifies your thinking.
Atlanta is just a TV show but I love it because my eyes are opening to a view of the world I have never seen or imagined before.
In one scene Alfred, aka the rapper called Paper Boi, explains in a moment of frustration why he needs to be successful in music so he can stop selling drugs for a living.
“I scare people at ATMs," he says. "I have to rap."
That hit me like lightning. I've never scared anybody by my mere existence. I've never had to think about how the world might fear and maybe even hate me as a stereotype.
This is what people mean when they talk about White Privilege. I didn't get it until now because I've only heard that term from other white people in my own world who were trying to teach me something. It smacked of condescension and shaming. It made me defensive.
"I scare people at ATMs."
That's when I got it.
Like it or not, I have white privilege.
It doesn't mean I should feel guilty about it. It's not my fault and nobody can tell me it is. It's just sad and wrong. Maybe in some small way my understanding can help fix it.
If I don't resist an idea just because it's new to me it might smooth the road a bit for younger people who don't have old ideas but are looking for new solutions.