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In Atlanta, One Episode Stands Above The Rest

Described by creator and star Donald Glover as "'Twin Peaks' but for rappers" (via Uproxx), "Atlanta" immediately became one of the most critically acclaimed shows of that year when it first debuted on FX in 2016 (via Rotten Tomatoes).

The dramedy is set in a chaotic, surreal version of the Georgia city where, for aspiring yet perpetually broke music manager Earn (Glover), anything can happen. Earn tries to manage the career of his rapper cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry), aka "Paper Boi," while also struggling with the needs of his on-again, off-again girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz) and their daughter Lottie. Season 3 of the series recently premiered after a long break that came as a result of the cast's demanding careers as well as COVID-19 delays, and it follows the characters on a European tour (via USA Today).

"Atlanta" mainly focuses on Earn and Paper Boi's misadventures, but other characters, like Van and Alfred's friend Darius (LaKeith Stanfield), also receive standalone episodes focused on their own lives outside of the pair. In fact, it's the spacey, absurd Darius who anchors what some consider the single best episode of the series. 

Teddy Perkins is highly rated by viewers and critics alike

The Season 2 episode "Teddy Perkins" is not just the highest-rated of the show, per IMDb users who gave it 9.7 out of 10. It is also arguably the installment that truly breaks any idea of what to expect from "Atlanta." The episode primarily features Darius as he answers an ad for a piano owned by a famous musician named Benny Hope. Darius ends up coming to a secluded mansion, where he meets the pale, unsettling Teddy Perkins played by Donald Glover himself. Perkins claims he's Benny's brother and adds that the musician is injured and unable to meet visitors. It becomes clear even to Darius, though, that nothing is what it seems with these broken artists.

The disconcerting episode, directed by Hiro Murai, was lauded by critics for the creepy visuals and Glover's transformative performance as Teddy Perkins, who has mannerisms similar to fellow reclusive musician Michael Jackson. Junkee noted how "themes of child abuse and toxic masculinity add even more weight" to an already powerful story, while Indiewire noted the show's heavy atmosphere, calling the episode "one of the most disquieting episodes of horror to ever grace a comedy series."

As indicated by other heavyweight episodes like "B.A.N." and "Woods," the series has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, but "Teddy Perkins" is perhaps the best demonstration yet of how versatile and intelligent "Atlanta" can be.