Yes, we can: 10 shows that challenge America to be better

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What it’s about: A poor wannabe rap manager tries to navigate the surreal — and sometimes too real — aspects of racism as he builds his career in Georgia’s capital city.

What it’s fighting for: If you haven’t seen Atlanta but want to get a sense of the show, all you need to do is watch this NSFW clip from season 2’s “North of the Border.”

In the world of Atlanta — and for the most part, the world of the real-life U.S. — racism is so deeply ingrained that it’s not even remarked upon, but simultaneously so obvious it’s almost, almost laughable. (Well, laughable in a mirthless way.) If Earn and Alfred weren’t giving each other the side-eye during the frat dudes’ “Laffy Taffy” initiation, they’d probably be crying.

Actually, that’s a fair way to sum up Atlanta’s tone as a whole. Earn and his fellow characters are coolly aware of the absurdity surrounding them — even though they’re intelligent, complex and capable, the world at large sees only their race and their lack of money — and sarcastically comment on it. But for the most part, Atlanta’s players are powerless to change anything.

Not that they don’t show resistance: they do fight back in small ways. Darius buys a Confederate flag hat that reads “Southern made” and uses a red marker to edit it to “u mad.” Earn, in a fit of frustration, tells a clueless, cultural appropriating white dude exactly why he’s never visited Africa: he’s broke, dude.

Atlanta succeeds at laying out all the ways racism creeps into American life, specifically in the South. The series is never despairing, which is probably why its message comes through so loud and clear: Yes, there’s a stomach-churning humor to seeing rich white frat bros dancing to “Laffy Taffy” before a Confederate flag — but that doesn’t make any of it alright.

Where to watch: Season 1 is streaming on Hulu. Season 2 recently concluded, but is available On Demand. A third season has been confirmed.