The Best Character On 'Atlanta' Is A First-Generation Nigerian-American
Atlanta's quirkiest and most engrossing character, Darius, is a first-generation Nigerian-American.
Donald Glover's hit series Atlanta, just might be the best thing on television right now.
Its understated humor, endearing characters, impeccably delivered existential one-liners, and crisp visual aesthetic (for which we have Hiro Murai to thank), have made devotees out of pretty much anyone who's seen the show since it premiered earlier this month.
Among the many reasons to love Atlanta, is the fact that, as we discovered in last week's episode, the show's quirkiest and most engrossing character, Darius—played by California-born actor and rapper Keith Stanfield—is a first-generation Nigerian-American.
This is revealed after him and Glover's character—the show's protagonist, Earn—have a casual back-and-forth about the late actor Steve McQueen.
"Most black people don't know who Steve McQueen is," says Darius. Given that Darius is a fellow black man, Earn asks him how he happens to know who Steve McQueen is, to which Darius replies, "yeah, but I'm Nigerian."
The scene not only highlights the sharp comedic timing and nuanced performances typical of the show, but the dialogue also underscores a message that the show has done a great job of relaying so far: that black identity is not monolithic.
Glover made it a goal of his to challenge assumptions about blackness with the creation of the series. “I wanted to show white people, you don't know everything about black culture," he said in an interview with Vulture.
The writers' decision to throw in this tidbit about Darius' character hardly seems like an unmotivated one. The experiences of first-generation Africans in America are increasingly disrupting the idea of a single black narrative and Darius' “Nigerianness" helps convey this.
It makes sense that our favorite character on TV right now is Nigerian—even more reason for us to remain glued-in to Atlanta.
Update 1/5/18: The long-awaited second season of Atlanta premieres on Thursday, March 1.