***Atlanta is back for season two, ROBBIN SEASON and we couldn’t be more excited. While not a traditional recap for us, Nicole and William get together each week to talk out the great, the innovative and the utterly bizarre of the latest episode. All the spoilers ahead.***
William: I would say that at least we got a break from the gut punches of the past few Atlanta episodes, but there were some parts I was genuinely terrified of what might happen next. Especially for how the last episode taught us that the worst can in fact happen in this world. But I’m guessing that you felt similar to how I felt during the Barbershop episode, that “my god I’ve lived this before.”
Nicole: The episode wasn’t ostrich egg creepy, but–and this is a big but–there were parts when it felt dangerously familiar. I was saying a prayer to the patron saint of please-don’t-rape-these-women and biting my cuticles.
William: Yeah….so, I felt real peril when Nadine was basically too fucked up to move from the gummies and Van left her to get water…and then when Van was downstairs with the Drake’s assistant’s cousin or whatever. But we skipping ahead. How did you feel about the outset of the episode? Van and her girls trying to see them some Drake?
Nicole: I liked that the episode was named “Champagne Papi” and they alternate between calling him Drake and Aubrey. Identity is so slippery and contextual. Van in this episode isn’t Van the teacher or Van Earn’s girlfriend or Van Lottie’s mom. In fact when these identities are brought up, her girls shut it down. So the question of who this Van is in this episode is large. That’s she on a literal search makes me all the more excited. Ostensibly her search is for a picture with Drake, but we know it’s not.
The reason for the Drake hunt isn’t because she’s a fan (she never actually says that she is) but to beef up her IG so it’s not all pictures of Lottie, “chicken,” and Earn.
William: Right. She could give a fuck about Drake outside of what his fame can do for her public presentation. She’s actually more excited about meeting Drake’s…grandfather than she shows about anything else connected to him. I also think it speaks volumes that she spends about 85% of the episode looking either determined or annoyed or both EXCEPT when she finds the wardrobe. She’s in complete isolation, basically playing dress and runway in a gorgeous, but again, empty bathroom. If that didn’t give a potent insight into Van’s personality, I don’t know what does.
Nicole: She went to the party in the velvet crop wraparound dress and leaves in… a bomber jacket and pants.
Nicole: And I’m still not sure who Van is. There’s definitely insight but…
…there was a second when she was contemplating having her picture taken with a cut out of Drake. Like really, really contemplating it. She decides against it (thank you, thank you) but for a second there was a question in her mind. The thing I think about as a user of Instagram and as someone who follows about 3 celebrities on IG is who is Van taking these pictures for. When Beyoncé posts sets of 3 (go look, it’s always 3 to create the horizontal spread) photographs taken and touched up by professional photographers, it makes sense. But who is on Van’s page? She not like her triflin’ social climbing friend who got her into the party. Who on her page is surprised to see pics of Lottie? Who on her page will believe a Drake pic? What will it change?
Who is the intended audience? And now I return to the moment she’s watching someone mess in Earn’s hair on IG. This reality she’s constructing is in large part for him, right?
William: Well, for him or to…compete with him. Which can be the same thing and possibly not. I mean, we don’t know if Earn’s purpose for posting some woman all up in his natural on IG is just to do it for for Van’s benefit, but it does say or attempts to say that he has a life either separated or independent of Van. I think Van wants to be able to say that definitively. And if she feels that way of at all, I think her IG is a manifestation of portraying that publicly. Who is it for is a good question. But it could also be for her, not wanting to think about Earn but going to her IG and seeing nothing but things that represent him in some fashion. It could very well be a recognition on her part that her life may not have incorporated many things outside of him.
Nicole: I think in that particular Venn diagram there is a lot of overlap; it might just be one circle.
If they wanted to show that she was out living life then her looking fine AF (she was) at a private party in a mansion (also facts) would get that point across. Why are you thirsty for a pic that makes you look like a groupie? But ultimately does she does anything?
William: Yeah…Van did look right. No disputing that, haha. Can we talk about the huge sigh of relief when we found that Nadine was with Darius after she disappeared?
Nicole: Darius for the win.
William: I honestly felt like that was the safest person for her to be around in that moment, including the girls she came with (one of which basically forced her to take the gummies in the first place. The setting of them sitting on the stones in the pool talking about the fidelity of reality was kind of perfect too.
Nicole: I’m still mad at the one who left the party with nothing but a text to the group chat.
There was just so much.
William: But…you know that one friend exists within each ecosystem. At least one.
Nicole: Van got too many of them. Homegirl from the first Van-centric episode (which leads to her getting fired) is definitely that friend as well. We didn’t even address the intro to the episode when she’s out here hawking discount codes and putting her phone is an entirely disinterested Van’s face.
William: Do you think Van having too many of those friends is a realistic portrayal or more of a “this is what men think women friendships look like?”
Nicole: That’s a hard one.
Honestly, I think women might be more inclined to keep a friend around past her expiration date in hopes that she might could be reformed, but that’s some young woman (not talking years, either) shit.
Nicole: That gets (you) phased out.
Especially if one or more of y’all got kids. Nah, what we are not doing is ruining my one night out because you don’t understand loyalty. The real is that Van could’ve gotten raped. Nadine could’ve gotten raped. (All of them could have, tbh, but I mean that the circumstances were there: alone, in the company of suspect people, unable to consent). This chick is just like “Here, here is our friend. Imma go socialize with people I think can help me…. do…. what exactly?”
If we are still talking performance, and Glover always is I’m convinced, we never see her out of character. But to answer your question–or the one I imagine you asking–no, we haven’t seen real friendship between women on the show yet and I’m not sure we will.
William: And of course, we have to talk about Tami. In the lounge. With the white woman. It was at all times, hilarious, and kind of cringe-worthy, and potent, but also, fucked up? Like, I don’t know where to start with that scene.
Nicole: I’m still processing that. There was no answer that woman could have given that would’ve been okay.
Nicole: Because she pulled out receipts from community theater and ol’ girl was like FOH with that.
But my dude apologized.
William: Yeah, the apology has SO many layers to it.
Nicole: You got the decoder ring on this one?
William:I mean…I don’t even know fam. So, basically Tami breaks off Sabrina The White for being White and also the girlfriend of a dude that Tami digs. Like, that’s it. She ain’t out here doing no overt shit, she ain’t out here pushing white feminist agendas in her face. She really just existing. Existing in a pretty elevated place of privilege, but still, just existing. Tami attacks Sabrina, Sabrina defends herself and still doesn’t say any problematic shit. But again, she gotta defend why she is with someone. She stays longer than I think is expected of her for someone that was attacked out of nowhere, and her dude, apologizes. Is he apologizing for having a white girlfriend? Is he apologizing for Tami’s disposition? Like, he understands why Tami would be pissed? Or is he just a pacifist that is apologizing to cap a conflict? All of those can go in so many directions. And Tami is high and probably at least a little tipsy at this point. But I get the feeling she would’ve had a pretty identical attack if she were completely sober. And while its fucked up, I’m only like 58% mad at her about it.
Nicole: Sabrina has had this conversation before. Dude has given that exact apology before. Whatever argument the two of them scurried off to have or awkwardly not have, they’ve done that before, too.
William: Is that just the cost then?
Nicole: Of being a stereotype? I think so.
As you said, none of it is overtly problematic. She asserts that she’s loved him since Day 1, but in that moment she’s a stand in for all the white women who haven’t done that and have come in during Act II to reap the benefits.
Is it right? I mean… [trails off], it’s understandable.
William: Welp. Anything else you pull from this episode?
Van’s last words of the episode are “Drake’s Mexican” and I don’t know if that’s her being high and confused or if in this Justin-Bieber-is-black-universe Drake is in fact Mexican.
William: Haha, I think it’s both. In addition, that so much had happened that it just dawned on her that she a conversation with a Mexican man who she assumed to be his grandfather. All of which based upon her hearing “abuelo.”
Nicole: This episode wasn’t as tense (for the most part), but we got layers on layers, regardless.
Last question from me: who got robbed?
William: I would say Van got robbed of her chance to “socially climb” by getting a picture with Drake, but I feel like her stumbling upon the jig, not succumbing to it and living her best life down in that gorgeous bathroom means she came out ahead.
Nicole: She also ganked somebody for a jacket and pants.
William: So, next episode looks like Al in alone in the woods…I’m kind of terrified already.
Nicole: I’ll light a candle today just to be safe.