Atlanta: Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga
May 15, 2022 6:57 PM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

High school student Aaron undergoes a test of his blackness as he tries to get college funding from an unusual source. Another standalone story.
posted by mediareport (4 comments total)
We have much more urgent matters to think about, but I watched before Buffalo and figured I'd keep going with these posts. This one didn't do much for me - the satire was way too broad and shallow, the flamethrower battle just dumb and there wasn't much depth to whatever point it was trying to make.

Looking back over the shape of the season, I enjoyed a lot of it, for sure, but this episode curdled a few things about the show for me, particularly the casting of Samuels - an incredibly problematic figure whose aggressive statements against black women were widely known. Glover choosing to feature him of all people feels like juvenile trolling, and for what purpose? You tell me, cause I don't see any except poking people in the eye, which just highlights the show's ongoing lack of development of any female characters. I had to go back and look for the quote from Glover I remembered at the start of the season to make sure I wasn't making it up, and yeah, here it is:

When asked what fans should look forward to in Season 3, Glover said that Van’s character development was the major focus.

So much for that. I'll stop now, but the goodwill I had built up about this show's odd, unpredictable mix of horror, satire, social commentary and goofiness is running out.
posted by mediareport at 7:15 PM on May 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

My goodwill isn't running out but I didn't much like this episode either. Reading the discussion on Reddit (surprisingly good!) this episode seems to have been successful with a lot of people who related to it. Particularly read a lot of comments from people who appreciated the focus on passing as white. Also there's a lot of good gags and I thought Tyriq Withers did a great job playing the character, in both personas.

But so much grimness and cynicism! It baffled me that the main setup of the show would be that a Black man is giving out scholarships to Black students and yet his generosity turns out to be this arbitrary, malicious thing that just leads to problems. (Aaron's father: "that’s part of being Black; sometimes you don’t get the things you know you deserve".) The list of cultural tests in the interview was hilarious, but also so shallow it seemed to be mocking the idea of Black culture. And Aaron's end working as a retail clerk sure was discouraging.

I've said before "perhaps Atlanta is not a show one should watch to feel hope" and I appreciated the response that maybe Atlanta is just reflecting the cynicism and hopelessness of this moment. I'm also very aware that this show is written for a cultural and racial perspective that is not mine. The show is good enough to be worth my discomfort. Just not sure this episode was the best. I did find Touré's comments on the episode to be helpful.
posted by Nelson at 6:43 AM on May 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I thought it was hilarious. I'm loving these little short films.
posted by bleep at 7:17 PM on May 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Also I think it's a mistake to call these "standalone" stories. They're all a part of one BIG story, which is the entire cultural context that Earn & Paper Boi are trying to navigate.
posted by bleep at 11:19 AM on May 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

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