Previously on Atlanta, “Go for Broke”
Atlanta – S1E4 – The Streisand Effect | Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz | Writer: Donald Glover | Director: Hiro Murai
There’s broke… and then there’s BROKE.
The latest episode of Atlanta keeps things flowing with its usual balance of sharp humor and sophisticated writing, focusing on a battle on two fronts: Earnest’s very real dilemma of getting enough money to keep the lights on for Vanessa and his baby, and Alfred confronting a hater whose sole focus is to take money out of his pocket by ruining his rep across social media.
For those not in the know, the episode’s title is a reference to the phenomena named after The Barbra herself. Not long ago, Streisand tried to prevent photographers from lurking around her Malibu residence. An understandable action, however in the attempts to effectively shut down all manner of recordings surrounding her premises, it gave the request more attention than Streisand expected.
All props have to be given to Freddie Kuguru for bringing life to irrepressible, double dog dirty Zan. From the moment he literally popped into frame, Zan shamelessly promoted himself through a series of fake-ass compliments and platitudes in the hopes he’d climb Atlanta’s social ladder. Alfred’s first real “leech” after blowing up as Paper Boi, Zan attempts to latch on during his rise to get his merchandise selling and YouTube clips hitting a few thousand more views. Naturally, Darius, Earn, and Alfred notice a buster when they see one and dismiss the hoverboarding opportunist.
Behind the pleasantries and toothy grin lies the worst kind of troll anyone could experience online. Alfred’s pride got the better of him and he kickstarted a flame war that grew out of hand, to the point that Zan begins stalking Paper Boi at his usual haunts AND his own damn home. However it’s when Alfred turns the tables and finds out where Zan works that he realizes how deep the rabbit hole this “internet star” has gone down.
Atlanta is supposed to be a comedy and all, yet between the lines and sharp timing are some real moments that gives the viewers pause. We all know of people like Zan; hell, we may be related to one or three. Thanks to social media, you can do next to nothing to become famous and a lot of people have twisted their fleeting moments of adulation into a crutch for their fragile esteem. The more likes, the more you depend on others for your worthiness, the more crazy shit you have to do to keep their attention. The latest stunt for Zan being the employ (is he getting paid) of some random toddler that delivers pizzas and spouts profanity-laced catchphrases. Hopefully we’ll all know what he said that had to be censored for 11 seconds by FX.
Eventually, Alfred finally learned that Zan wasn’t worth the effort like many of the personalities people front online. It’s typically disappointing when they’re finally unmasked, but to watch them ‘exploit’ the experiences of others for a couple thousand likes? Bruh. It’s downright disturbing. If only we all could walk out on them as easily as Paper Boi.
Elsewhere, Earnest finally spends quality time with Darius, living up to his growing popularity with his patented witticisms, extraneous theories about the creation of AIDS and to “look it up” within an unknown source. For as eccentric and aloof as Darius may seem, he has never missed a beat. LaKeith Stanfield imbues a type of childish wonder in our seemingly detached philosopher. It isn’t the case; sifting through some of his humorously unfounded conspiracies and nonsensical thoughts, Darius simply has a loftier perspective of the world that few can achieve. The only person in Atlanta who cannot get a bead on our man is Earnest, who’s weird isn’t even close to being compatible with Darius’ weird.
After last week’s debacle with Van, Earn appears to still be on the outs and can’t even rub two pennies together. He and Darius take a trip to a pawn shop and trade up his phone for a katana at Darius’ insistence. During their trip through the grey market, it’s clear that Marks doesn’t have much of any skill in the scene where he hopes to make bank. Perhaps it’s because Donald Glover (the writer for “Streisand”) wants to flesh out the nuances in Alfred and Darius and places Earnest in the backseat, but with exception to the first episode, Marks has been doing next to nothing in getting connects or promoting Paper Boi.
After all the little errands the guys accomplished during the day, their pay day is assured… far into the future. Marks is dejected yet Darius, the one person Earn had little desire to know better, saves his ass by giving up his iPhone so he get a few hundred to pay his bills. Darius remarked quite happily that “We’re friends now”. If anything was learned in “Streisand”, it’s the oft-recited lesson that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. What may appear to be misfortune could be opportunity. And for all the flash and bravado one may show, they are likely more empty and in want than can ever be fulfilled.
Atlanta S1E4 = 9/10