In my review of the last episode of Atlanta I said that it seemed like Donald Glover doesn’t want any of his characters to succeed.
This latest episode seems to prove it. Vanessa, Earn’s girlfriend, is more of a straight shooter than anyone else on this show and the one time she lets her guard down and has some fun, she gets punished for it. But I think this might be an over simplification.
Glover doesn’t want his characters to fail, he just doesn’t believe in a lot of the aspects associated with hip-hop culture. And he is telling a story that is trying to diversify the image that society holds in its head of not only hip-hop culture but also black culture in America.
In this episode we see that Van is established as a fundamentally solid person. She has to be because she has a daughter. She cant go running off chasing men and taking holidays like the old friend that visits her in this episode. She has to go to work and provide for her daughter. But this isn’t everything Van is. She is a girl who likes to smoke weed sometimes, she’s a friend and a sister and a gilfriend. Unfortunately in this episode she has a moment of fun and spends the rest of the episode paying for it. And at the end when she has nothing left she has to look over and see a child in whiteface make-up back at her.
Again, Glover is trying to break down these clichés, even if that cliché is as broad as how African Americans are associated with drugs and crime. Because obviously Van isn’t that experienced with drugs, as I said she lets loose for one moment and is covered punished for it. After she indulges in some recreational pot smoking she gets covered in her daughter’s urine, has to turn to Alfred for help, and is fired from her job.
This newest episode did a great job at letting us get to know one of the characters that usually has less screen time and is in a supporting role. We get to see a story told from her perspective and it adds to the greater thematic elements of the show. It was a wonderful addition to this growing world that Glover is crafting.
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