Atlanta: FUBU
May 3, 2018 10:47 PM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

A time machine episode, focused on middle school aged Ern and a possibly bootleg FUBU shirt. A very tiny glimpse into a day in the life of kids.
posted by k8t (13 comments total)
God this episode was good. I would have been in the same grade the same year. I have not heard so many people saying "Oh snap" probably since 1997, a phrase I continue to use anyway.
The younger actors were so perfect.
posted by bleep at 11:26 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

It really was good, so good that I had a hard time watching it. At first, I did think young Earn was Alfred, but once we saw young Alfred, that actor was perfect.

I feel like I was supposed to absorb something about Dinesha's 180-degree mood change the next day, but I don't really know what that was.
posted by gladly at 5:56 AM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought it was that she was high. The ironic tragedy being that drugs were the only way she could find get through the day.
posted by bleep at 5:57 PM on May 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yeah I thought Dinesha was high too.
posted by k8t at 7:27 PM on May 4, 2018

I also think she was under the influence. It was a brilliant shot, really, that had her spending a significant amount of time trying to find page 45. It was right on the edge of tolerable. I love the "show don't tell" nature of the storytelling.

The subtle brutality of childhood too, man. All over the place, such that there's this underlying tension of possible harm almost all the time. It starts with a child apologizing in earnest, and still getting cracked in the head -- shot pans away. Then every time Earn went through a door, snuck into a room, tried to not be noticed, you had a sense that there could be abuse -- and possible harm -- coming at any time.

And seemingly aloof to it all is his cousin. I wonder if there's an intentional juxtaposition in this particular episode compared to the last few where he's had to deal with his limitations and immortality a bit more directly. He's been chill for awhile, but a few times he's had to fight for his life now.

And while a standalone episode, it answered the question we've been wondering about for awhile. What was their life like as cousins before Earn tried to hook up as his manager? You can tell there's this history, but then some distancing (probably because Earn went to Princeton), and then a reconcilation of something that seems more solid. It was cool to see this level of interaction at school and at home in this flashback episode.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:50 PM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Darius wasn't in this episode, right? Because I'd really like to see him in his younger years.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:09 PM on May 4, 2018

This was an interesting episode, particularly as an exercise in layered storytelling. On the surface, it's a look at Earn as a kid, still uncertain in the social hierarchy, where Al and Darius are confident, even as kids.

A bit deeper, you can see Al is ever the hustler, playing games with the rules for personal gain. And he's wearing ROTC gear, possibly to get out of other classes. But he still looks out for his family. Earnest is a good kid, trying to fit in, yet having trouble competing because he's poor. He doesn't want to cause trouble, but by shifting the scrutiny to someone else, he indirectly pushes a kid to suicide.

And then there's the brand itself - FUBU. For Us, By Us. The story of a guy who made a name for himself , who inserted himself and his clothes into the New Jersey music scene ... and his clothing is 1) knocked off, and with that, 2) becomes a tool for separating the "us" from "them," "us" who support a black entrepreneur and "them" who wear rip-offs and pretend to. Earn finds a shirt that he thinks is one-of-a-kind, and not only does another kid wear it, his is (likely) a knock-off.

(There's also that little message about appealing to women by wearing the right thing, but I won't delve into that.)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:15 PM on May 4, 2018

Yeah I thought Dinesha was high too.

She could have been hungry. She's holding a McDonald's bag and smiling in her later appearance.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:36 AM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was thinking Dinesha was on Ritalin. She doesn't have ADD, but I learned from an episode of Degrassi that it will have the opposite effect on children without ADD, making them hyperactive. It's plausible she could have been given Ritalin outside of its intended use to stop her from being a burden on the class.

Being high makes more sense, but I thought Ritalin because of how common it was in schools back then. More so than FUBU!
posted by riruro at 1:19 PM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Either way, she’s relying on some substance to get through and that never ends well.
posted by bleep at 1:59 PM on May 5, 2018

Van’s appearance, already doing all the work.

The difference between the FUBU your mom bought vs the one your dad bought you.

Alfred clowning on authority figures in ROTC gear.

That white kid who wore the same shirt twice in a week. Crabs in a bucket.

The tonedeafness of the teacher.
posted by sibboleth at 1:24 PM on May 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought the suicide was a misstep. Suicide is most common among the elderly and second most common in middle-age, particularly, middle-aged white men. The rate is very low among those under 15 and it declined over the 1990s, the period in which I think the episode was meant to be set (but unfortunately seems to be rising again). Having the other kid seriously injured and in the hospital or mysteriously disappeared (probably moved away to live with grandparents but no one's sure) would have made more sense and would have given Earn the sense of dread that comes from a no-win situation. Or the kid could have gone home and complained and got beat up by one of the parents. I liked the episode but this little bit, instead of being an unrealistic detail that revealed something about the larger situation, just rang false to me. The show is not social realism, but including a child committing suicide as a punch line for shock value just felt exploitative to me.
posted by nequalsone at 7:46 AM on May 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read it as trying to increase the pressure of just covering your own ass, and makes it clear that by redirecting the attention (or agression) towards others can still heavily impact you. A rather heavy(handed) way to deliver that message, and possibly not realistic, but that was my interpretation of their intention.

One final thought - I'm pretty sure Al was watching Tiny Toons on TV at the end there, bringing the whole idea of apparently unrelated stories strung together for a larger narrative, a la Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on May 8, 2018

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