On its surface, FX’s new show “Atlanta,” is about a trio of hapless African-American millennial guy friends living in Atlanta, one of them a near-homeless dropout with a daughter. Though he faces a fraught relationship with his “baby mama” Van (played by Zazie Beetz), he stays with her partly because he has no other choice—his parents have stopped enabling his seemingly meandering, non-productive life.

ATLANTA -- “Streets On Lock” -- Episode 102 (Airs Tuesday, September 6, 10:30 pm e/p) Pictured: Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles. CR: Guy D'Alema/FX

ATLANTA — “Streets On Lock” — Episode 102 (Airs Tuesday, September 6, 10:30 pm e/p) Pictured: Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles. CR: Guy D’Alema/FX

This is the main character Earn, played by actor and rapper Donald Glover, the show’s creator and co-writer. One of Earn’s two closest buddies is his cousin Alfred, played by Brian Henry Tyree, a rapper who supplements his creative career with drug dealing. Where Van provides shelter, Alfred brings hope or perhaps opportunity to Earn’s life. Also known as Paper Boi, he has gained a lot of traction on YouTube and is poised to be a breakout star. Sensing the potential for profit, Earn has volunteered to manage Alfred’s promising career.

Prior to portraying Alfred, Henry was best known for originating the part of The General in the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon.” The Morehouse College and Yale Drama grad, who also has a recurring role on HBO’s “Vice Principals,” spent a great deal of his childhood in the Maryland area and still has strong ties to the state.

“My family is still there,” he told the AFRO. “I spent a lot of time growing up between North Carolina and the DMV so I lived in Southeast and Northeast D.C. for a bit and then we moved to Prince George’s County. My sisters are still there.”

As much a dry comedy as it is drama, for Henry, “Atlanta” is about the frequent absurdity of everyday life.

“ the life of these people including Van, in this city,” he said. “We really just wanted to make a show that showed the absurdity of the world. Absurdity is sometimes our normal so we wanted to make a show that you have to sit back and laugh at the situations we sometimes find ourselves in.”

Henry describes Alfred as a “hustler who does what he has to do to survive who is incredibly loyal to his friends and family.”

“He’s just not one to be messed with but he can be incredibly sensitive,” Henry said. “Alfred really sees things for what they are. It’s easy to say he has been weighed down by things that have happened but he still finds joy and likes to hang out and kick it with Darius”.

Henry’s take on Alfred reveals a bit of what is so special about “Atlanta.” It is a layered and subtly-delivered look at Black lives which offers a languid reveal of the complexity of the Black psyche. This complexity is not unique to the Black psyche, but its depiction is not often found on American television.

“Atlanta” is a trojan horse that brings us a more realistic vision of the depth and breadth of Black life, disguised in the familiar tropes of deprivation and struggle that usually subconsciously reinforce the status quo. This show uses the comfort many find in clichéd portrayals of Black outer and inner lives to start to dismantle misconstrued ideas of who African-Americans are.

Still, Henry is careful to point out that the show is not setting out on a campaign to change hearts and minds.

“What I’ve learned is that when you set out to the task of trying to change someone’s mind, that kind of leaves you in the dust,” he said. “You want to give people an awareness and let them make up their mind if they feel like it can be changed. Because let’s face it, some people are completely okay with being unaware or negligent about what is going on around them.”

“It isn’t so much about trying to change people’s minds as it is about opening people’s minds and look at the world in a different way,” he said, “how to receive the world in a different way and how to look at themselves first and how to move through this life in a different way.”

“Atlanta” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX and is on demand on Amazon.com.