‘Atlanta’ Review: “Helen” and “Barbershop”
It’s catch up time! Season two episode four of Atlanta centered around the dynamics of Van and Earn’s relationship as they took a trip to an Oktoberfest event that Van used to go to as a child. She loved the event and had a lot of fun until Earn began to express his dislike for the event and the people there.
He felt out of place and uncomfortable as the only black man there. Van snaps back, annoyed because she always does things Earn enjoys without complaint, but he can never just get through something she wants to do.
The episode left them in an awkward place since Van wants a balanced relationship that’s about more than their daughter Lottie, and sex. Earn doesn’t express the same desire although to the audience knows he cares about her to some degree.
At the end of the episode, they faced off in a moment that echoed Love and Basketball. Earn and Van played ping pong to decide what kind of relationship they would have; one only about Lottie or one that continues the way things are. When they arrive home, Earn tells Van that he’ll drop off Lottie after he gets her from his parents’ house. The moment felt vague in the way it implied that Van won and they will only communicate when it’s about their kid. The tone of the episode was a lot less humorous than other episodes besides the moments where Earn was weirded out by festival customs. There are arguments between Van and Earn, Van and her friend, and lots of weird tension throughout the episode. I’ll give it an 8 out of 10.
Last week’s episode five of Atlanta titled “Barbershop” kicked off with a familiar scenario, sitting in a barbershop with a barber who’s on the phone. As someone who’s been in a salon chair while my hairdresser talked on the phone, the scene was familiar and funny.
Al’s struggle just to get his haircut took it to a whole other level as Bibby drove him around from one of his girlfriend’s house where he didn’t pay the bills, to a construction site to steal lumber, to chasing Bibby’s son when they see him walking around town and not in school. Probably the most outrageous moment was when Bibby rear-ended a car and the driver hops out and dramatically screams (she was clearly faking).
Every time Bibby took Al somewhere that wasn’t back to the barbershop, I fell into another round of laughter. The episode took a familiar scenario and put a wild Atlanta spin on it. My favorite moment was when Bibby finally cut Al’s hair and had the nerve to ask for money! The episode highlighted the unique way that the series gives characters their own episodes, giving each a chance to be the main character. I’m giving “Barbershop” a 10/10.
Atlanta airs Thursday at 10 PM on FX Networks.
Kira McCall covers entertainment for MFST. She’s a freelance writer and alum of Towson University where she studied advertising, public relations, and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter at cocovanilla45 (GirlsofManyFandoms) and kiramira_.