Portraying it Poorly: A Review of Atlanta Season one Episode Seven

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The seventh episode, ‘B.A.N’, in the FX series Atlanta is an experimental one. Designed to be an episode of a fake talk show called Montague, the episode uses this tool to examine several different ideas surrounding race, sex and identity in the city of Atlanta.

The episode of Montague is interspersed with different commercials that play with the portrayal of African Americans. One commercial, which acts as a reoccurring bit throughout the episode, for a Dodge Charger slowly shows a man driving a charger, every commercial break we see the man driving around Atlanta, until finally at the end of the episode it turns out that this man has had a mental break and driving around incessantly without no pants. Another commercial for ‘Swisher Sweets’ is a very suburban commercial for a cigar company whose cigars are used to roll blunts in.

Sometimes the commercials are used to mock the marketization of race, sometimes they are used to mock white culture or white cultures interpretation of black culture and sometimes they just seem to be an opportunity to put black actors in a commercial acting role that, because of the systemic racism in American culture, black actors would usually not be cast.

So in this episode of Atlanta, Alfred is a guest on the Montague talk show. He is invited to talk about gender identity and transgender people.

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In the Montague episode it seems that either the guests or the host loses the upper hand when they try use other people to forward their own agenda. This is often done, in the episodes based on false assumptions. Montague, the fake talk show host, wants Paperboi and the trans rights lady to fight on his show to get better ratings, he assumes that Paperboi and the trans-rights lady will fundamentally disagree, but they end agreeing on most of their fundamental opinions. Then, when they have the fake trans-racial man on the show, Montague and the trans-rights lady assume that the trans-racial man will believe in trans rights and hope that they can use him as a motivating factor in changing Paperboi, and by extension, other transphobic people’s minds. But the trans-racial man ends up being transsexual-phobic so they lose their upper hand.

Paperboi wins the day because although he thinks transsexuality to be ‘weird’ he doesn’t have an agenda.

I am not totally clear on the message that this episode is trying to present but I was Glover and his crew were clearly trying to comment on the media and their portrayal of diversity and what that means and how the media is portraying it poorly. It seems, from this episode, that Glover thinks that the media isn’t even trying to portray diversity properly but they are only trying to take advantage of people and boost their ratings.

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That’s all I have to say for now. If you liked this blog, please like or comment or follow this blog. Thanks for reading!

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