Atlanta: Season 2 (Thoughts)

Poster for Atlanta 's Season 2

We had to wait almost two years since the first season, but I think most of us would agree, FX’s Atlanta second go around is one for the books, and was definitely worth the wait.  

Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino, one of the writers, stars, and the mastermind behind the show, did a great job of developing the characters more this season. Each main character had at least one episode about themselves, which made us get to know the character a little more.

The theme of this season was “Robbin’ Season,”  and if you know noticed in every episode, someone was robbed of something; rather it’s money, jewelry, a piano, dignity, or even of their time. Someone who isn’t familiar with the show, might see one episode and think it’s a little weird, but that’s the genius of Donald, all the episodes aren’t so easily laid out, they’re complex with hidden messages.

One of the best episodes this season was episode 3, “Money Bag Shawty.” The episode started off with a parody of a viral video of a white conservative Christian mom, bashing and crying about rapper, Vince Staples’ song, “Norf, Norf.”

In the show, the actor mom is talking about character, Paper Boi’s hit song, that has profanity and lyrics about drugs and violence, but ironically the most offensive lyrics to the mom pertained to him being in support of Colin Kapernick, “taking a knee.” The episode then follows Earn’s day, where he wants to spend his new hard earned money, and “stunt” because he’s tired of being in the background, and he wants to be “the man.” He plans to take his girlfriend, Van, out to dinner and to the movies,” but when he goes to pay for the movie, with his $100 bill, the cashier tells him, “ they don’t accept bills that large.” However, right after Earn steps aside and let the next customer go, who’s a white man, he proceeds to pay with a $100 bill, and the cashier accepts it. Earn quickly realizes that it’s not a money issue, it’s a race issue. Earn and Van, then go to meet up with Al and Darius, and try to go out to a club, but the same thing happens, they won’t accept his bill. Al tells Earn, “Money is an idea, there’s reason why a white man dressed like you can walk into a bank and get a loan, and you can’t.” Basically telling Earn no matter how much money you have, you will still be considered a regular black man in America.

Atlanta's Episode 6, "Teddy Perkins"
Atlanta’s Episode 6, “Teddy Perkins”

One of the most memorable episodes that had the internet going crazy was the, “Teddy Perkins” episode. Everyone, including myself, was creeped out. The episode was so left field, but if you pay attention to the episode, then you understand why the episode was so genius. The “Teddy Perkins” character, that had a crazy resemblance to the modern day Michael Jackson with bleached skin and plastic surgery features, which was played by no other than, Donald Glover, himself.

Darius goes to Teddy’s house to pick up a colorful key piano, that he saw online; however, things seem to not go as planned. Teddy Perkins, who is supposed to the brother of an artist name, Benny Hope, who is a black artist that has a skin disease, which makes him sensitive to sunlight. The artist is supposed to be well known, and has a abusive father that made him practice his craft all day as a child, and would often beat him when he didn’t do it right. Very similar story to Michael Jackson’s childhood, with his father Joe Jackson. And even though the Perkins character is trying to convince Darius that he’s the brother of the artist, there’s a lot clues that point to him, being the actually artist, and calls into question: If Benny is actually real?

Darius just wanted what he came there for, the piano. But while trying to leave, he ends up being tied up and almost killed by Teddy. But before Teddy could pull the trigger, a man in the basement comes out the elevator in his wheelchair, and shoot and kills Teddy, then turns the gun on himself. The cops end up coming and it appears that Darius, didn’t get the piano. This episode left everyone puzzled about who the guy in the wheelchair was, and if it was “Benny,” or their dad? Relating back to “Robbin’ Season,” I think this episode was used to shed light on what an artist like Michael Jackson went through, and how he was robbed of his childhood, which caused him to do some of the abnormal things we saw, and dabble in drugs.

Episode 10, entitled “FUBU,” had to be the most relatable episode of the season, with so many hidden messages. The episode is supposed to go back in time to Earn’s childhood in middle school. He begs his mom to buy him a FUBU shirt (which was one of the biggest clothing lines back then), that was on sale, but later finds out the shirt is most likely a knock off.

Earn takes off his jacket, and shows off his shirt in class, then another student comes in class with what appears to be the same exact shirt, with a couple of differences. It’s the same shirt, but Earn has more stripes on his arms, and the other boy has a FUBU patch on the front. Both boys then begin to be questioned by classmates, because clearly, one of them isn’t wearing a real one.

In the black community, labels and new clothes tend to be important to us, especially being young. And getting teased for what you’re wearing, is something that most of us can relate to. While Earn was telling his white friend about his shirt debacle, his friend follows up by saying, “Doesn’t seem like such a big deal. I’ve worn this shirt twice this week.” Which was a powerful line because it shows how much value blacks put into labels and material things, while still not having much money, but whites who probably are doing better financially could care less about labels. Same goes for black rappers and athletes with millions, who wear tons of designer clothes and expensive jewelry, but a billionaire white man, will wear a simple shirt and khaki pants, with some cheap shoes.

The episode then takes a turn, when Earn has his cousin, Al, convince his classmates that his FUBU shirt is indeed the real one, and the other boy is wearing the bootleg. Soon after, the kids began to tease the other boy for the rest of the day.

The next day, the principal makes an announcement that the boy committed suicide, because he was dealing with a lot at home, but Earn knows that the bullying that was his fault, was most likely the straw that broke the camel’s back. Feeling guilty, Earn comes home and his mom tells him that she got him a suit because she wants him to look nice for his piano lessons, which also hints to the fact that our parents are the ones that plant the seed about the value of clothes and appearance. And she then tells him, that she picked him up another FUBU shirt that was on sale. He knows this shirt is fake, because that’s the same place where she brought the previous one from.

From the funny, to the bizarre, to the home hitting episodes, this season was truly amazing. Donald won two Golden Globes for last season, and I’m pretty sure this season won’t be any different. And although this season just ended last than two weeks ago, we’re longing for season 3 already.