Atlanta (2016)

This is an old post that I never really got round to posting, so here it is.

If you haven’t caught Atlanta staring man of the moment Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino then I suggest you start.

It has been praised from across the atlantic for addressing social and economical issues currently in America, issues which it seems have been ignored as a out of sight, out of mind by the politicians.

Atlanta follows the life of Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks, who is literally broke but sees an opportunity to get rich by managing his cousin, rapper Paper Boi. The first season, which I have seen, puts Earn is a number of situations which he has to balance his on/off girlfriend Van and their child and managing his volatile cousin.

I have picked out a few moments that I enjoyed and considered interesting from the first season.

An interesting social context in the first episode is when Earn tries get his cousins demo to play at the radio he meets an old (white) friend who drops the n word several times in their conversation and his story. Earn never addresses it but is uncomfortable with it, later when he asks his friend to discuss his story in front his cousin and his friend Darius, the friend does not mention the word once. What does this say about Earn? His friend does not consider him to be threat that he can use the word in front of him knowing Earn will not say anything?

Second episode we see Earn in a police station where he is caught up in a situation between a man and his ‘girlfriend’ who is in the men’s holding station. The man starts a conversation with her while Earn is seated in between them. To the other jailers amazement the man thinks the girl is a girl, but in fact she is a transvestite. Then one of the men points it out to the man who immediately gets angry, and denies being gay and the stigma attached with being a homosexual.

In the third episode we see Earn trying real hard to avoid paying too much for his dinner date with his girlfriend as he does not have enough funds, he even tries to avoid tipping the waitress. The fourth episode sees a long trip to make some cash by trading his phone, but all doesn’t go to plan he points out ‘poor people don’t have time for investment’

The shooting range scene in the fifth episode is particularly funny, as Paper Boi’s friend Darius puts up a picture of a dog on the shooting range, one of the people on the range saying ‘you can’t shot dogs, what are you a psycho?’ To which his friend says shooting people would be weird.

The sixth episode is probably one of the best in terms of social divide. Van meets her friend who flew in on a private jet and is going to New York and then London – she is seeing a NBA star. She asks Van if she wants to come, but Van mentions she has a child. Her friend tells Van to ‘know her value’ and not be with Earn who is broke ass, unsurprisingly this does not go down too well, and Van tells her that she is not in her friends position because some millionaire swiped right. Anyway they smoke some weed but the next day Van has a drug test at work. The following results in her trying get her daughters urine as a replacement.

Episode seven is a real treat for fans of shows like The Day Today or Ali G. The whole episode is good, it features Harrison a white man trapped inside a black man – yep. The eighth episode sees Paper Boi getting his money from a manager who keeps disappearing.

Episode nine is another delight, Earn agrees to go to Van’s friends Juneteenth celebration party, but he discovers social climbing isn’t to his taste. The whole episode showcases the nuances of the social divide and differences in black culture. Van’s friend is married to a white man, who embraces black culture a little too much – he has been to Africa to ask for forgiveness for the slave trade. He asks Earn if he has been back, as it is his motherland.
Van’s friend tells her she likes her husband but she she loves her money, and that Van did good by marrying right, and the only to get fed in this world is to keep the right company. The episode ends in a confrontation between Earn and the hosts when Earn finally let’s rip that the people are living in a different world, both Earn and Van leave.

The final episode sees Earn trying to find his jacket, it ends with him paying his rent and way to Van for his 5% fee for managing Paper Boi, she says he is a good Dad. Earn leaves and spends the night in his storage locker as he has nowhere else to stay.

Rating 4/5

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