Atlanta: Trini 2 De Bone
April 30, 2022 4:49 AM - Season 3, Episode 7 - Subscribe

This week: a different kind of ghost story, written by Jordan Temple (writer of episodes 6 and 13 of Abbot Elementary), continues the season's theme of white people cursed by their own racism. A gently unfolding standalone episode about childcare, how children deal with death, and the physical and emotional labor Black people provide to white families.
posted by mediareport (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed this quite a bit, as I have all the standalone episodes this season. I'm engaging with this show as a middle aged white guy who tries to be non-racist but has a lot to learn. The Earn-and-pals episodes are great fun for me to watch but I don't personally relate to them, they are characters from different cultural backgrounds than mine. Which is part of why I like the show!

This episode spoke more directly to me. I immediately identified with the father character. I don't have kids or a nanny but I do understand that sense of having people work for you and wanting to respect their backgrounds but also being a little self absorbed and clueless about other people. And making mistakes and being uncomfortable but also realizing it's valuable to have that experience and to try to go with it. The moment Miles identified someone as "Trinidad Jamaican" I winced in painful sympathy, just the kind of dumb mistake I work to avoid but still fuck up sometimes. Also the moment of leaving his keys on the hood, I've been there, wanting to be cool but being so uncomfortable.

I enjoyed the actual story too. Mostly the experience of trying to understand who Sylvia is indirectly, through the memories and emotions of her friends and family. To learn she danced for the Alvin Ailey company, oh my heart! I'm not able to judge whether this was "every Black funeral trope" or not but I enjoyed it. It seemed a little over-the-top to me but then Atlanta always is, it's not a documentary.

I loved how little Sebastian was so into the Trini groove at times. And clearly influenced by his nanny, to the shock of his parents. Also that kid was a remarkably good actor (and/or well directed).
posted by Nelson at 7:47 AM on April 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the kid was great, and the actors playing the parents too. I love the way this show's unpredictability makes every week a delicious "where are they taking this?" experience. I can see how some might consider it too ordinary a story, I guess, but I like the way it unfolded, setting up the family picture reveal early on, and showing us only elliptical glimpses of what Sylvia's relationship with Bash was like (guessing they visited Black church services together), which gradually becomes obvious even to the self-absorbed parents who are coming to that realization very, very late (and I doubt it'll stick with them long).

So many details: dad's reaction to the curry, the mother not realizing how many things Sylvia kept around the house, the "Sylvia wasn't cheap" "No. Sylvia wasn't expensive" conversation, observant Bash asking his mom if she needs an ocean breath, Khadija saying "I've heard so much about you" *pause, looks at parents* "All of you", the look on Mom's face when Bash jumps right to respond to the preacher's calls...

I like that the episode is missing the weird stylistic tics the show revels in (though I guess the bizarre cameo by Chet "White Boy Summer" Hanks counts as one), so I also thought the funeral scene, beautiful at first, went unnecessarily over the top. Princess's angry speech, interaction with her siblings and banging on mom's coffin made the point well enough; did we really then need an inexplicable fight between 2 men, a closeup of a Black child shrieking *and* a woman yelling "I'M COMING WITH YOU!" as she climbs into the coffin? Eh, probably not. Took me out of it, anyway. Also kind of cringey was the older man (the one looking for a childcare gig earlier) apologizing for scaring the white people, but I guess maybe that was the point? Hard to tell.

Would I prefer to get back to Paperboi? And see what the fuck Vanessa's been up to? Sure. But I don't mind these standalones as much as some folks; so far they've all been sharp, well-made, emotional television. I'm ok that the season looks to be split between the two kinds of stories. Maybe we'll get one that surprises us by combining them. That would be fun.

(Oh, and can someone tell me what it was that Dad saw on his phone at the funeral? I only have really terrible guesses.)
posted by mediareport at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

You don't really want to know what was on the phone.

One takeaway I had from it was that there was the implication that the white couple were essentially guilty of having someone else raise their child, but then you saw that Sylvia put too much of herself into her child minding that she hurt her own children.
posted by Marticus at 6:06 PM on May 1, 2022

I think someone airdropped him a picture of an asshole.

I'm loving these ghost stories for white people. It's clear at the beginning that these people don't know their own child - AT ALL. And I can sympathize, in a way. When my son was really little we didn't have any choice but to not only have him in daycare, but we also had to have a babysitter to cover the gap between when the daycare closed and when one of us could get out of work to come pick him up.

At the time we were told by our pediatrician that we shouldn't give him any nuts until he was X months old. So we very carefully and dutifully became a nut-free household. One day I come to pick up the boy and he's happily chomping down a plateful of peanut butter filled celery sticks. I must have expressed some kind of surprise and she was like "oh yeah, he loves peanut butter and he has it all the time!"

You know, it takes a village and all that, but there were times where I was definitely I really raising my kid? This episode really brought all of those memories and guilty feelings flooding back. And that's with everyone in my story being white.

I had to look this up, but Tribeca is the highest income zip code in NY, if not the country. That's a 24-carat solid gold joke. I rewatched the episode and the look the two parents exchange at that moment is so great.
posted by ssmith at 8:14 PM on May 1, 2022 [4 favorites]

Good ep, and nice they can do this sort of thing without leaning too hard into spookiness or horror.
posted by adrianhon at 11:58 AM on May 3, 2022

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