Since 1992, the city of Atlanta has proven to be too real to serve as a host city for Real World. Yes, VH1 has cursed the city by deeming it perfect for a number of its reality-like, “Wait, she said what?” shows, but there’s nothing worse than the world thinking it understands your home based on what it learned on a Real Housewives marathon.
So when HBO’s consistently fantastic NFL training camp series, Hard Knocks, picked the Atlanta Falcons, my immediate reaction was, “This is my Real World.”
I knew the season wouldn’t let me down. And after the first episode, which aired last night, it’s clear it could even exceed my expectations by the end of the five-episode run, while simultaneously giving Atlanta hope for the future, causing me to whisper quietly, “We’re definitely going to win the Su— ” and then punching myself in the mouth.
A standard recap seemed like an appropriate way to tackle a show like Hard Knocks. But then I remembered this wasn’t just Hard Knocks. It’s Real World: Atlanta. And it deserves to be treated as such.
The 40 Most Atlanta Things That Happened in This Episode, Ranked
40. The first real scrimmage opening with a marching band.
39. Rookie Dezmen Southward, saying he wanted to do an “impersonate” instead of an “impression.”
38. Rookie Donte Rumph getting the nickname “Cupcake.”
37. Two punches thrown before the opening music.
36. Having a tight end with the first name “Bear.”
34. Terrell Owens, somehow in the mix, probably uninvited.
33. “I’m scared of Ferris wheels, dog.” —Someone on the sidelines
32. A too-turnt rookie, saying to a veteran, “I promise you don’t want this shit.”
31. Coach Mike Smith attempting to better his life by going from Baltimore to Atlanta.
30. The coaching staff drinking out of Coca-Cola cups.
29. Rookie Ra’Shede Hageman performing “Feelin’ on Yo Booty” during the rookie talent show.
28. Rookie Dezmen Southward attempting to be a stand-up comedian.
27. Roddy White barely playing football.
26. “Stand up and get some of this wind.” —Coach Bryan Cox to a fatigued player
25. Someone big with dreadlocks mentoring someone smaller with dreadlocks.
24. Roddy White, ending the episode, talking to Matt Ryan about chicken.
23. Harry Douglas’s mansion.
22. Any and all sideline bickering between WR Roddy White and S William Moore.
21. Steven Jackson having an art gallery side hustle.
20. Rookie Jeff Mathews performing “Chicken Fried” during the rookie talent show.
19. This reaction to country music.
18. This reaction to that same country song.
17. This reaction, in the same room, to the same rookie, doing the same country song.
16. Coach Bryan Cox, giving defensive tips by way of giving sex analogies involving nipple rubbing.
15. “I’m so anal about, like, packing. It’s the Virgo in me.” —WR Harry Douglas
14. “Go Get It” by Clifford “T.I.” Harris being used as montage music.
13. The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s (and DE Kroy Biermann’s wife) Kim Zolciak Biermann, watching herself on TV.
12. “I’m ashy, I need some lotion.” —Roddy White
11. Devonta Freeman, drinking a Capri Sun.
10. The shoes inside William Moore’s closet.
9. Devonta Freeman, saying, “Boss life, just chilling,” in his Devonta Freeman–size tub.
8. The giant palm tree inside William Moore’s home.
7. “Bae.” —WR Harry Douglas
6. The fact that a player retired in the middle of training camp.
5. The beautifully smoggy skyline.
4. Steven Jackson, speaking to his running backs like a preacher.
“Aye, man, I just want to say one thing too. It’s a lot of y’all’s first training camp, it’s nothing different man, football is football, at the end of the day the lights camera action, when you go between the lines your God-given ability gonna take over. All I do is encourage you to be confident in yourself. Motivate one another. Push and try to be better. Competition gonna bring the best out of everybody. At the end of the day, only so many men gonna make this team, but at the end of the day we can still be brothers, we can still reach to each other, still uplift each other, that’s really what life is about, you know what I’m saying, regardless of what your paycheck reflect you still got feelings and emotions and everybody wants you to know that you’re cared about amongst your brotherhood and not just what you do for coach or the organization. Too many young brothers right now that go through too many things, give up a lot of things in their life because they feel like they got to have some value that’s tangible, sometimes [that’s] what you need. I made a lot of money, have a lot of success, but at the end of the day I still appreciate when I know somebody genuinely cares about me and I’m going to do the same for you, I want you to know whatever you need of me whatever you ask of me I’m going to genuinely … ”
THAT’S ENOUGH, PREACHER S-JACK.
3. Osi Umenyiora and Roddy White, throwing up the flag.
2. The outfit of Defensive Line Coach
Young Dro Bryan Cox.
1. THE SPONSORS OF THE PRACTICE JERSEYS, KING’S HAWAIIAN ROLLS, SHOUT-OUT TO PUBLIX.