In a World Full of Copycats, FX’s Atlanta is Redefining Originality

With the advent of shows like Louie and Girls, which freshly replicated the style of indie films, prickly realism has become another trend in TV comedy–and too often, a tired one. Hyper-personal and unapologetic, these dramedies have great potential. But in the Golden Age of TV, being a copycat won’t cut it. Instead, shows need to innovate and redefine their genre to succeed.

In my opinion, FX’s Atlanta is doing an outstanding job at setting itself apart from the pack. Written by and starring the multi-talented Donald Glover, a writer on 30 Rock and actor in Community, hopes were high for the wunderkind’s first series. True to form, Glover’s show is a stand-out gem worthy of praise.

But Atlanta is unlike the standard comedies Glover has worked on in the past. It follows the independent film atmosphere much more, and embraces a slower pace. Like Louie and Girls, Glover plays a protagonist loosely based on himself. Unlike Louie and Girls, Atlanta has an almost-fully minority cast and writing team. It’s also magnificently directed by Hiro Murai, who also directed music videos by Glover’s musical persona, Childish Gambino.

The New Yorker does a great job of explaining the nascent greatness of Atlanta, calling it “a series that is shrewd, emotional, and impolite, with a style that veers toward pretentiousness but never crosses over.”

Glover’s Earnest Marks is handsome and sardonic, but it’s the side characters–namely, Earn’s cousin Paper Boi–that lend the show great depth. The show follows these two as they navigate the rap scene in Atlanta, Georgia, a space that both idolizes and penalizes black masculinity.

The Atlantic calls Atlanta one of the most versatile shows on TV. What makes it so original and surprising, the author argues, is that instead of relying on plot, the show is more dependent on mood–something that changes dramatically from episode to episode. “Donald Glover’s show is about rap music, race, celebrity culture, the city of his birth, and how those things all intersect. But it can also be a moody relationship drama, a madcap sitcom, a social commentary on gentrification, or, most recently, a surreal sketch comedy,” David Sims writes.

In other words, the writers are taking real experiments with Atlanta where traditional showmakers are more conditioned to follow a formula. In a way, this discord makes Atlanta feel all the more real. Life, people, and places rarely adhere to one theme—that Atlanta is unpredictable feels extremely authentic.

This feeling of authenticity via surrealism was entirely intentional. Glover told NPR that human experience isn’t black and white, and they wanted to make viewers feel this acutely. “Most things lie in the gray area.” he said. “But I think because of the Internet, and like, social media — things get cut into zeroes and ones really quickly. So we were like, ‘Let’s just play around in the gray areas.’ “

And play with the gray, Atlanta does. Indeed, the atmosphere in Atlanta refuses to validate or invalidate black stereotypes, instead portraying a wide range personalities and classes. Atlanta tells the stories of specific individuals within a specific community, of which violence and poverty are part, but not a defining part as outsiders might assume.

Suffice this to say, if you are looking for something new and revelatory all at once, Atlanta is worth watching. Trust me—you won’t get bored quickly.

By |2018-10-31T17:58:31+00:00December 9th, 2016|Culture|

Forget WHY: What We Need to Know is HOW

Dov Seidman, a world renowned American author and CEO of LRN, published a New York Times Bestseller about his unique ideas on relationships in business and company culture.

In 1994, Seidman founded LRN and built a business that helps more than 500 companies worldwide develop their value-based corporate cultures and inspire principled performance among employees. The idea with LRN was to shape the future of communication and interaction between employees, managers and others. LRN is also a member of the World Economic Forum Global Growth Company which is an early community of dynamic high-growth companies. As a member on this board, LRN hopes to become a driving force of not just economic change, but social change as well.

After having operated LRN successfully for over 21 years, Seidman used his experiences and wrote his New York Times bestselling book, “HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything” with a foreword by President Bill Clinton.

Seidman’s bestseller perpetuates his unique methods on social interaction in corporate capacities. His first rendition,”HOW” was published in 2007 and four years later was supplemented by the highly touted reintroduction of the book.

Seidman’s book addresses an issue that is constantly being evaluated and improved upon both at the startup level and in corporate environments. Company culture and interaction in business has a massive impact on the productivity and growth of businesses and individual success.

Recently, the business world has developed a new level of transparency and the culture of a company is just as important as any other given factor for prospective employees and/or clients. Seidman iterates that, “It’s no longer what you do that sets you apart from others, but how you do what you do.”

For almost two decades, LRN, has helped some of the world’s biggest organizations build a “do it right” culture, which inspires employees to keep their principles first when it comes to work and communication.

Seidman’s vision with LRN has been expounded upon in his book and breaks down how he’s actually gotten companies to practice HOW. LRN has helped more than 15 million people doing business across 120 countries to keep the human aspect in their company culture even in the midst of such demanding competition.

It’s amazing how Seidman’s approach has been received across different world cultures, and has proven so productive for teams that follow his practices.

Since its first release, Seidman expanded HOW with an exclusive Foreword from President Bill Clinton. The author also added a new preface that explains some of the overarching topics that define the book at its core.

Seidman illustrates that our behavior, how we lead others, govern employees, operate in business, trust in our relationships, and relate to others has a massive positive effect when done the right way. But Seidman’s explanation doesn’t just use personal anecdotes from his own experiences, he also explores case studies, edgy research in various field, and interviews he’s conducted with a diverse group of people.

Throughout the book, he defines the methods to uncovering the values of “hows” that will help further your success in modern day business and real-life relationships as well.

Divided into four comprehensive parts, this book breaks down into the following:

  • Exposes the factors that have fundamentally restructured the way organizations operate and the way that employees conduct themselves, placing a specific focus on their “hows”.
  • Provides frameworks to help you identify and understand these “hows” and implement them in powerful ways that increase productivity towards team goals.
  • Helps you channel actions and decisions to get different results.
  • Explains the systems of dynamics between people that shape the culture of organizations. Seidman also introduces a bold vision for leading successful teams through self-governance.

Seidman promotes the importance of values like trust, reputation and how keeping this way of thinking as a staple in your work culture can lead to more efficiency, production, innovation, and growth for your organization. HOW will help you further your business ventures in today’s quickly evolving world where the human aspect tends to get lost.

Photo: The Aspen Institute via Flickr.  

By |2018-10-31T15:52:15+00:00December 29th, 2015|Culture|