Previously on Atlanta, “Helen”
It’s possible, and I could be wrong, that no one outside of The Culture knows how frustratingly difficult it is to find the perfect barber. It’s one thing to know someone who is a master at the cut but to create specifically for the texture of your hair, the shape of one’s head, is a prevalent though typically understated element that betters the quality of life for Black men. Much has already been filmed about the sanctity of the barbershop… I mean, Ice Cube rolled up to the bank in a Brinks truck thrice due to its relevance and power within the community. However the Barbershop series wasn’t created to profit upon our memories so much as embolden them in a media format we love to support.
Of all the things that have been exploited, commodified and monetized within the Black experience, the barbershop remains as one of the few havens where our thoughts and language aren’t deconstructed by opposing forces and discretion is revered. That being written, not all barbers are imbued with a forethought or sagacity as sharp as the lines they make. This was evident with Alfred’s chosen cutter Bibby (Robert Powell III), a slick yet discourteous opportunist that was always looking for the next score.
Why Alfred endures Bibby’s nonsense for the entire episode was subtly revealed in its final moments, yet it should be obvious to regular viewers of Atlanta: Al expects loyalty among his people, and within himself. When Paper Boi was jacked by his plug in “Sportin’ Waves”, it was apparent he was more hurt about losing the friendship they had for a decade over the bag of money. No amount of notes, chains, whips or holds as much value to Al as the loyalty from his squad. Which is why he gave Bibby oceans of patience when the barber forced him to share in his “good day” of taking from his baby mama and stealing a few stacks of wood on the side.
As for the barber, Bibby was pretty much the worst kind of human. Always scheming and forever evading, Bibby was almost Machiavellian with his double-dealing and ease of spitting out half-truths. He and Alfred seemed to have had a quarrelsome rapport before this episode as Bibby was dismissive towards Al until he mentioned the need to look fresh for an upcoming photo shoot. Bibby’s ears got hot from the potential opportunity but he quickly distracted himself with a brief rant about “nigga cats” taking precedence over black folks on movie posters. Additionally, his feigned obliviousness also rewarded us with a callback to the invisible car incident in “The Club”.
Even though Bibby is a particular addition in an increasing line of eccentric characters, his obnoxiousness is a bit grating compared to previous guesters. The sole comparison for Bibby is Freddy Kuguru’s Zan from “The Streisand Effect”; both are shady clout chasers that have no shame in leeching off others however Bibby was far more coarse and overstated while dodging his responsibilities and working on his next con. Not to mention he straight up told his first born that he never wanted him. That’s cold, man!
Al never wanted to know how Bibby lived his life or what he did on the side, and despite getting a front row seat to watch Bibby revealing his problematic ass, Alfred couldn’t help but look across the ‘shop and languish over the fact that Bibby – for all his supremely glaring faults – really knew how to keep Al’s temple fade on point. Like a long-standing relationship that has slowly grown toxic, Alfred can’t help but to hold on to the one redeeming quality that brought he and Bibby together. Still, a smooth fade isn’t worth a potential violation of one’s probation, right? …right??? "Barbershop" Atlanta – S2E5 – Barbershop | Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beets | Writer: Stefani Robinson | Director: Donald Glover
Atlanta S2E5 Review Score
Atlanta – S2E5 – Barbershop | Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beets | Writer: Stefani Robinson | Director: Donald Glover