ATLANTA: Will Earn Ever Get It Together?

To explain what Atlanta on FX is about, I would be here all day. There are so many layers to this show that sometimes while watching I forget what I’m even supposed to be paying attention as far as the story line goes. In the first season of Atlanta we met Earn, played by Donald Glover, we who was switching careers to manage his cousin Paper Boy rap career who is hesitant about letting Earn manage him. Paper Boy is an okay rapper that has a little bit of buzz in the hood. Aside from trying to be a manager Earn is sometimes boyfriend to his baby mother Van. This show may seem like it’s about a rap career but not so fast. Every episode we’re thrown a loophole like Earn going to jail, Van getting fired from her job, Paper Boy being a panelist about transracial issues, and meeting Migos in the woods for a drug deal.

Along with Donald Glover’s vision and story telling we’re treated to a version of Atlanta that we often hear about in our favorite hip-hop songs but rarely get to see depicted on television. Most television show setting takes place in either New York or Los Angles. There is absolutely nothing glossy about Atlanta. I never think, “Damn I wish I was like Earn, how come I don’t have any rapper friends like Paper Boy? I should try to wear my hair like Van one day.” I never have those thoughts, Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Hiro Murai and everyone else responsible for the episodes we see weekly are so good at their craft that Atlanta isn’t just portraying real life but it feels like it too.

At the end of season one of Atlanta we saw the depth of Earn’s homelessness. He was living in a storage unit. Now this episode Earn is being forced out of his storage unit. I’m aware that sometimes things must get worse before they get better but when will that be for Earn? I want more for Earn than Earn wants for himself and its quite annoying. Instead of trying to find a job he’s joyriding with Darius, the same Darius that actually has a home to go to once their joyriding is over. This season is titled Robbin’ Season and I hope Earn doesn’t end up robbing anyone for various reason. First off Earn is not built like that, second he seems to have the worst luck, and third Earn should aim higher.

As his luck would have it, of course Earn would end up at someone’s house when the cops show up. Instead of trying to get out of the house Earn takes it up on himself to play mediator between his uncle and the cops. Let’s not forget that Earn is on probation, as he tries to lecture his uncle, his uncle casually reminds him of his homelessness. This should be a wake up call for Earn when his crazy uncle is reminding him of his living situation but no, why would Earn listen? That would make too much sense. Towards the end of the episode when Darius asks “Yo Earn, you good?” this would have been a great time for Earn to confide in his cousin Paper Boy about his living situation.

The thing about Atlanta that makes it so relatable no matter the city is we all know someone that’s trying to be a rapper with barely a Souncloud hit, we all know someone that wants to be a manager, and we all have that one homeboy that’s kind of weird but we can’t help but laugh at. However, at some point your friend realizes his/her rap career is going nowhere, and your manager friend realizes there 9 to 5 is actually going to pay the bills. This isn’t saying to give up on your dreams but more so focus on your priorities. Earn has a daughter with Van, but can he truly be a good parent with no income? As important as it is that Paper Boy’s career pops off its also important that Earn be able to support himself and take care of his family.

Do I think Earn lacks ambition? No. Do I think Earn is lazy? Maybe. As I stated before I want more for Earn. I know a rap career takes time and Paper Boy is family but that doesn’t mean Earn shouldn’t find something to do in the mean time. In real life people are constantly evolving and changing, I’d like to see the same thing with these fictional character. Granted things don’t happen over night, but I’d like to see Earn with at least somewhere to lay his head at night that isn’t a storage unit. Earn is not the only character I find fault with on Atlanta but as the main character he should be leading the supporting characters to greatness instead of hustling backwards.

Each time I watch an episode of Atlanta I hope for the best for each character as if they are my real friends. Life for Earn, Paper Boy, Darius and Van is not as awful as it could be but it isn’t great either. I just want to see them win, why? Because once again we all know people in real life that are just like these characters. Instead of going forward, at times it seems as if Earn is going backwards. In the first season we saw him living with Van, he was able to see his daughter and be in her life, but at the start of this season he is being forced out of his storage unit. Living in a storage unit should have been a rock bottom for Earn, but it doesn’t appear so. It makes me wonder what Earn’s rock bottom is going to look like. When will enough is enough happen for him? Is Paper Boy every going to write another hit? Its not like he doesn’t have the time, he’s on house arrest therefore he has all the time in the world. Has Van found another job? After all she is responsible for another human.

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