Hey, y’all! As I stated in one of my previous posts, I’ve become a huge Childish Gambino fan (by the way, have y’all seen the “This Is America” video? Check that bad boy out!), and as a result, I’ve also converted into a huge fan of Donald Glover’s series, Atlanta. Atlanta is one of the funniest, most insightful and satirical comedies on television since The Boondocks aired. There’s episodes that are completely slapstick, there’s episodes that are dark, and there’s even some episodes that have a combination of the two, but all of them give your brain a nice workout.
One of the most intriguing things about the show is the main character, Earnest “Earn” Marks, played by Donald Glover himself. Earn isn’t intriguing because he’s the funniest character or the breakout star (those titles would go to Darius and Alfred aka Paper Boi). Hell, this season he largely was MIA for about four or five episodes. Earn is intriguing because despite being an intelligent man, he always sabotages himself due to his dumbass decisions.
When we’re first introduced to Earn in season one, we learn he had the chance to be a Princeton graduate…but he dropped out. That turned to be the first of many stupid decisions he made, considering that we also learn that Earn is practically homeless and living off a non-existent commission from his dead end job. To top it off, he has a toddler-aged daughter depending on him. He initiates himself as Al’s manager, and although Earn succeeds in getting Al more exposure, in the long run he still continues to lose. Earn’s had such hard luck during the “Robbin’ Season” someone made this meme:
After watching the “North of the Border” episode (and witnessing Earn not taking responsibility for his actions) I decided to chronicle all the times Earn took an L this season, and why he took those losses.
“Alligator Man” – Earn Stays Homeless
In the second season premiere, Earn is living in a storage facility unit, and before the episode can get off the ground, he’s basically “evicted.” Earn wants to ask Alfred if he can stay with him, but he hesitates, and is later sidetracked with carrying out a favor to Alfred concerning his and Earn’s Uncle Willy (which was crazy within itself). Long story short, Earn finally decides to build up the nerve to ask Alfred if he can stay with him a few days, but Tracy, Al’s trifling ex-con homeboy, already beat him to it. If Earn didn’t allow his pride to get in the way and asked Al upfront if he could stay there, he probably would’ve had a place to lay his head. Thankfully, he had another option…for the moment. Sadly enough, this was the smallest loss he suffered all season.
“Sportin’ Waves” – Earn Squanders His Money
Darius pays Earn $4,000 from a dog breeding investment he previously participated in a few months earlier (for further information on that check out “The Streisand Effect” episode from season one). Now, as I mentioned before, Earn is broke and homeless. The smart thing to do would’ve been to give some money to Van and Lottie (his girlfriend/baby mama and daughter, respectively) and open a checking and savings account. However, this is Atlanta, and this is Earn.
Tracy tells Earn that he can invest the $4,000 in a gift card scam and spend up all his money at the mall. At first Earn is reluctant—as he should be—but the thought of going on a spending spree is too tempting and Earn relents. Of course, nothing goes as planned. Not only does Tracy risk he and Earn getting arrested by shoplifting pairs of shoes from the mall, but the second Earn uses the janky gift card, it’s flagged, leaving him with 10 to 15 minutes to continue using it. Worst of all, Tracy leaves Earn at the mall to get to his job interview, causing Earn to have to ride back home (wherever “home” is that particular night) on the bus with his arms full of merchandise, some of which he lost in transit. That’s an L if ever there was one.
“Money Bag Shawty” – Earn Is Outright Disrespected
“Money Bag Shawty” showcases the first time Earn taking an L wasn’t entirely his fault. Earn is finally seeing some serious money coming his way now that Al’s single has gone gold and streaming services are paying commissions. After Earn and Van reflect on how they’ve gotten nothing but insults lately (hours before receiving the check, an eager Paper Boi fan looking for a come up cussed Earn out, not realizing that he’s actually Al’s manager), they decide that they’re going to take the money and spend a night on the town. The stunted will be the stunnas. Earn soon learned that he’s not a #1 stunna.
First Earn and Van go to the movies. The clerk refuses to accept a C note from Earn, although she has no issues taking a $100 bill from a white cop. Then, they go to a hookah bar. The owner, who is African, swears up and down the bill is counterfeit and demands that Earn leaves…but not before paying the $20.00 charge for entering the club. Next, they hit the strip club, and Earn is finessed for nearly every dollar he has. Now, here’s where Earn must take personal responsibility for this L. When Earn and Van decide to call it a night, they see Michael Vick racing people for money in the parking lot. Earn foolishly decides to race against him, in one last attempt to regain some dignity. He loses. Yet another stupid decision.
“Helen” – Earn Loses His Woman
Van, who is half black and half German, decides to bring Earn to an Ocktoberfest party in Helen, GA. At first, Earn is excited to go to the festival, but he soon feels out of place, and isn’t really enjoying the celebration. Instead of just sucking it up and doing something Van enjoys for a change, Earn sulks the entire time and makes very little effort to spend any time with her. Earn’s behavior (along with some shady comments her childhood friend makes) causes Van to reevaluate their relationship. When Van tells Earn that she doesn’t want to be an accessory that’s just around for Earn to screw, Earn admits that he doesn’t know what he wants, but he’s happy with their “arrangement.” *Sigh* A la Love and Basketball, Van challenges Earn to a ping pong game for her heart. Earn loses, in every sense of the word.
“North of the Border” – Earn Loses It All
After going through a four episode hiatus, Earn returns for “North of the Border” with an appearance that lasts more than five seconds. Sadly enough, this is also the episode that irked me to my soul so much that it inspired me to make this post. Earn, Al and Darius are going to show at a college in Statesboro, GA. Instead of Earn booking a hotel room for them like he should’ve done, he decides it’s a better idea for them to shack up with a co-ed Instagram model that’s obsessed with Al’s Paper Boi persona. When the men arrive at her apartment, it’s clear the young lady is unbalanced. After the show, the girl throws a drink on Al simply for acknowledging other female fans on campus. Tracy, who insisted on coming along and was made a “security guard” for the trip (that’s not actually on Earn; that’s Al’s fault), pushes the girl down the stairs, which causes her brother and his friends to come after the men. Oh yeah, and she slaps the shit out of Earn, although he was the one that caught her when she fell, saving her from injury and/or death.
After the fellas are chased through campus and find refuge in a bizarre fraternity (complete with guns, confederate flags and naked pledges dancing to “Laffy Taffy”), Al basically informs Earn that he’s over his shit and he’s fired (Al had his own come to Jesus moment about furthering his career during the “Woods” episode). Earn only sees Tracy’s hand in all the trouble they’ve been through, not his own. To make matters worse, the next morning the guys find their car broken into, their clothes sitting on the lawn—and destroyed—and many of their items stolen, including Earn’s laptop. On the way back home, Tracy refuses to shut the hell up about what happened, and after he reveals that he stole one of the antique guns from the frat (and points it at Earn), Earn’s so pissed off that he makes yet again another stupid ass decision: he wants to fight Tracy.
Tracy is a physically large, ratchet ex-con fresh out of prison. Earn is small and wiry, and couldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight. It’s possible Earn decides to stand up to Tracy to make up for all the times he’s been disrespected and said next to nothing, or maybe he does it to try to reclaim a shred of self-respect. Either way, good didn’t prevail and the nerd didn’t beat the class bully. Once again, this is Atlanta, and this is Earn. He gets his ass royally whupped by Tracy, and is forced to ride back home with the man that just physically decimated him (and I heard that the drive from Statesboro to Atlanta is three hours long!). In one foul swoop, Earn loses his job, his clothes, his laptop, and his pride, all because he was too cheap to book a damn room at the Ramada. SMH.
“FUBU” – Little Earn Is Clowned for His (Possibly) Fake FUBU Shirt
This is the second time Earn took an L due to circumstances. Circa ’97 or ’98, when Earn was in middle school and independent designer clothing line FUBU (short for For Us By Us for all you youngins) ruled the world, Earn comes across a FUBU shirt for sale in Marshall’s. His mother buys it for him and Earn can’t wait to go to school the next day to stunt. Unfortunately for Earn, a young man named Devon comes to school that morning with a very similar shirt. The only difference is that Devon’s shirt has a patch with the FUBU logo, whereas Earn’s has no patch, and more stripes on the sleeves. The kids in Earn’s class figure that one of them is wearing a fake shirt. Earn’s dilemma escalates when he accidentally tears a hole in the shirt.
Earn spends the rest of the day hiding the shirt, as the teasing has gotten worse as time passes. Young Al advises Earn to just be confident and declare the shirt is authentic, but confidence isn’t exactly Earn’s forte. Devon has to deal with being teased throughout the day too, and by time school ends, the resident “fashion expert” declares that Earn’s shirt is fake. However, Al comes to save the day (as usual) and refutes the “expert’s” opinion, announcing that Devon has the fake shirt. Earn finally has a W, and Devon goes on to be mercilessly teased. Unfortunately, the win is short lived. Earn learns the next morning that Devon committed suicide the night before. He was having issues at home due to his parents’ divorce and the teasing about his shirt pushed him over the edge.
Once again, I don’t blame Earn for taking this L, simply because he was a child behaving as a child, responding to cultural norms outside of his control. Even Earn’s mother and aunt stress to him how important it is for a black man to be fashionable in society by the end of the episode. She even goes out and buys him another FUBU shirt, although this time, Earn’s less than enthuasiastic about it. Real talk, I don’t think either shirt was fake. I used to see fake FUBU shirts all the time at discount stores and flea markets, but they always had a different brand name/logo listed (i.e.: a “PB” logo instead of the real “FB” one). Placing the actual FUBU brand on the clothing would’ve been copyright infringement. As for the shirt tearing, I know for a fact that most designer brands used cheap materials for their goods. When I was teenager, I loved wearing designer men’s watches, and during my junior and senior year of high school, I had a Calvin Klein watch and a FUBU watch, respectively. Both watches fell apart by the end of the fall semester.
Tomorrow night (May 10, 2018), Atlanta’s season finale will air. In the previews I noticed Earn being serious about his business, and taking more time with his daughter. Maybe, just maybe, Earn will finally grow up, be the man that we all know he can be, and actually gain a W.
Then again, this is Atlanta, and this is Earn.
The Atlanta season finale airs on FX, Thursday night at 10:00 PM. The previous season can be purchased at VUDU.com, and the current season can be viewed at fxnetworks.com.
—Written by Nadiya
What do y’all think? Do you believe Earn’s bad luck is mostly on him, or are other cirumstances to blame for his misfortune? Will Earn finally show some maturity and growth for the season finale, or will he continue to be immature and make stupid decisions? Let me know in the comments section!