Atlanta, Donald Glover's hypnotic FX comedy, is officially in its fourth and final season. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to a show that's unlike anything else on TV, both in structure and in content. We'll miss so many things about it, from its unpredictable, dreamlike vibe to Brian Tyree Henry's Emmy-worthy performance as rising rapper Paper Boi. You still have some time to relish in these last episodes, but if you're already looking for something to help fill the void, we've got you.
Our list of what to watch after Atlanta includes similarly surreal series, comedies about young people trying to make it in the world, and immersive shows with well-crafted worlds.
If you combined Atlanta's surrealism with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's edginess, you would get something like Peacock's Bust Down. Created by and starring Langston Kerman, Jak Knight, Chris Redd, and Sam Jay, Bust Down is a weird, dark, hilarious comedy about low-wage employees at a casino in Gary, Ind. who have to deal with an avalanche of nonsense every day of their lives. Like Atlanta, it takes a nuanced, provocative look at social issues from a Black, free-thinking point of view, but it's more joke-driven. It probably has one of the highest laughs-per-minute rate of any show on TV right now, because it's a torrent of absurd non sequiturs like "But can they make the shrimp Impossible? I bet Tom Cruise could do it." -Liam Mathews
Donald Glover has described Atlanta as "Twin Peaks with rappers" many times, which is probably the best way to describe Atlanta to someone who's never seen an episode. David Lynch's influence is all over Atlanta, from its surrealism to its offbeat sense of humor to its genre-bending. Atlanta, Georgia, isn't quite the small town in the middle of nowhere in the way that Twin Peaks, Washington, is, but through Glover's eyes, Atlanta becomes a place with a distinct personality where odd occurrences happen every day, not unlike in Twin Peaks. Episodes like "Alligator Man" and "Teddy Perkins" prove how deep in conversation Atlanta and Twin Peaks always are with each other.
If you're looking for another show with a mostly Black cast that's similarly character-driven and follows a group of friends navigating their 30s, you'll want to check out Insecure. Issa Rae's beautifully realized, expertly crafted opus follows two best friends, Issa (Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji), as they flourish and struggle through the experiences life throws at them. Like Atlanta, Insecure makes great use of its strong supporting cast, giving them their own rich inner lives, and both shows craft their stories in sharp, skillful ways, taking care to make nearly every episode feel like its own unique ride.
The world probably wasn't ready for Random Acts of Flyness when it first came out in 2018. Terence Nance's sketch series is unabashedly bizarre, a true late-night show in the sense that it was designed to be watched late at night, when the world feels looser and your mind is perhaps more open to Jon Hamm selling you a skincare product that will help you defeat the disease known as whiteness. It's the kind of weird that makes Atlanta-isms like the Juneteenth party and Black Justin Bieber feel rooted in reality. Like Atlanta, Random Acts embraces surreality, messes around with genre conventions, and revolves much of its storytelling around providing astute commentary on race and culture.
All FX shows are kind of in a league of their own, but Reservation Dogs feels like the most natural offshoot of Atlanta. Created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, the series is a chill hangout comedy about a group of young, weird friends drifting through the world and getting into trouble. The four Indigenous teens at its center (played by D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis, and Lane Factor) are looking for a way out of the rural Oklahoma reservation they live on after the death of their friend, and engage in various schemes in order to fund their escape to California. Reservation Dogs takes a page out of Atlanta's world-building book, crafting a setting that is both authentic and lived-in, populated by distinct, colorful characters. Most importantly, it's also really funny.
South Side follows two friends (played by Kareme Young and Sultan Salahuddin) living in Chicago who are trying to become venture capitalists but are stuck working boring day jobs until it happens. Atlanta's over-arching plot is about Earn trying (and often failing) to be taken seriously as a manager, and South Side is another show that gets at the root of how difficult upward career mobility can be. Nothing ever really "happens" on this show, but it's hilarious with a strong and solid point of view, sketching out its own singular little world that sets it apart from other ensemble comedies.
At this point, both Donald Glover and Dave Burd are probably tired of hearing Atlanta and Dave mentioned in the same sentence, but there's a reason people compare these shows. FXX's Dave, which was created by and stars Burd, aka Lil Dicky, follows a twenty-something rapper trying to make it big, if only his many neuroses would stop getting in the way. The show nimbly deals with mental health, white privilege, and the trappings of celebrity, and it gets more confident in itself as it goes on. Dave has a similarly adventurous, experimental style that Atlanta fans will recognize, and both Glover and Burd have rap careers outside of their respective shows. You should expect way more dick jokes in Dave, though.
If you're looking for another show that has deep respect for its setting, look no further than The Wire. Created by David Simon, The Wire is a crime drama about Baltimore's drug crisis that explores it from the perspectives of the detectives investigating the crimes and the users and dealers trying to get by. Atlanta got some comparisons to The Wire when it came out, and for two shows about very different things with very different tones, you can easily see why: Atlanta is one of the most finely drawn, brilliantly written series since The Wire, and both are notable for the loving, thoughtful ways they portray the cities they take place in.