The 15 Finest ‘Atlanta’ Episodes

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Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Matthias Clamer/FX

With Donald Glover’s Atlanta having come to an finish, these are the 15 greatest episodes throughout its 4 season run.

Previous to Atlanta making its premiere again in September 2016, sequence creator Donald Glover had described it as “Twin Peaks for rappers.” Though one might argue it deviated away from this at occasions (particularly with its divisive third season), it’s an outline that held up throughout the present’s 4 seasons, as viewers watched Paper Boi rise from native rap sensation to international rap star with assist from cousin and supervisor Earn.

By its journey, Atlanta supplied a surreal tackle the fun and risks of being a rapper. How might we ever overlook Paper Boi’s first style of stardom within the type of a glowing field of complimentary lemon pepper moist scorching wings? Or, extra lately, him having to push an aspiring rapper hoping to have his Kanye-discovers-Huge-Sean second as somebody is making an attempt to kill the now well-known rap determine?

However that surrealist lens is current all through all of Atlanta‘s core characters. Whether or not that be Earn discovering himself in the course of a shootout between police and an assailant whereas making an attempt to retrieve his jacket (that has the keys to his house, a storage unit), Darius (Paper Boi’s proper hand man) making an attempt to select up a piano from an enigmatic (and clearly troubled) musician impressed by the tragic backstories of artists like Marvin Gaye or Michael Jackson, or Van making an attempt to extract her and Earn’s daughter’s pee in hopes of passing a drug take a look at. In Atlanta, there’s simply as many hilarious moments as there are heart-pounding ones, the place you by no means actually understand how an episode will start or finish.

Now, six years since its premiere, Atlanta has come to an finish. So, what higher solution to have fun and replicate on the legacy it leaves behind than deciding what are the sequence’ greatest episodes? Chances are high you received’t be shocked by a few of these. Others may catch you off guard like the price of an of Arizona Iced Tea being greater than what’s labeled on the can. These are the 15 greatest Atlanta episodes throughout its 4 season run.

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Quantrell D. Colbert/FX

15. “The Membership”

The key wall door. There are moments scattered throughout Atlanta that talk to the present’s surrealist spin on the customarily mundane annoyances rappers (and the people who oversee them) endure, and this scene from “The Membership” (and actually many of the episode) is without doubt one of the greatest examples of this. Nonetheless adapting to being his cousin’s full-time supervisor, Earn is tasked with monitoring down a scheming membership promoter intent on not paying him. The promoter does every thing he can to evade Earn, culminating within the second the place he disappears to a secluded a part of the membership by a secret wall door.

It’s a hilarious scene that happens in one of many funniest episodes of Atlanta, as Paper Boi — equally unenthused about being in a membership as his cousin — is overshadowed by Marcus Miles, an Atlanta Hawks participant, whose fame eclipses that of the rising rapper. In the end, Paper Boi has to take issues into his personal fingers to get the cash he’s owed, as he confronts the promoter.

“That boy’s gon’ be a star,” the promoter says of Paper Boi after the rapper slaps him with a stack of money, solely to then inform a girl he was with to name the police on Paper Boi. By the top of the episode, plainly the gang’s membership evening was, for probably the most half, successful. Not solely did they receives a commission, however they acquired out of a shootout that occurred exterior of the membership (and had been in a position to witness Miles’ invisible automobile in motion) proper as they had been leaving, too. Then they overhear on the information that the police are on the lookout for Paper Boi. It’s an ending that places a damper on the episode, a testomony to how efficient Atlanta was with juggling comedy and drama in a manner that made it such a definite sequence. — Elijah Watson

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

14. “Work Ethic!”

The Van and Lottie-centric episode from the present’s fourth season, “Work Ethic!” pulls on the complacencies of colorism, solidarity, and abusive rhetoric in giant conglomerates, in addition to the risks of kid stardom. What begins out as an innocuous performing alternative for Van shortly spirals uncontrolled, as she loses Lottie after Mr. Chocolate, the person behind Chocolate Studios, sees potential in her as a toddler star. “Work Ethic!” tackles the thought of “I’m rooting for everyone Black,” and assesses the appraisal of any and all Black filmmakers and administrators for his or her work, regardless that these persons are complicit in utilizing their energy to additional hinder Black individuals. 

It additionally emphasizes the casualty that we as a individuals can have with figures who’ve created media that’s primarily trendy minstrel reveals. Certain, the episode is clearly pointing a finger at Tyler Perry (however not as scathing as Aaron McGruder was with The Boondocks). Nevertheless it additionally highlights how a handful of notable Black figures in popular culture may very well be a Mr. Chocolate, too — whether or not they understand it or not. — Joli-Amour DuBose-Morris

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

13. “The Homeliest Little Horse”

By the start of Atlanta’s fourth season, Earn has gone by some vital life-style modifications. He’s parlayed his job as Paper Boi’s supervisor into working at a comfortable expertise company, drives a elaborate SUV, and has even determined to get remedy. Talking together with his therapist throughout a number of classes, Earn delves into household trauma, the rationale why he left Princeton (a query the sequence has by no means answered up till this level), and an incident on the airport the place he, Van, and Lottie had been turned away on the gate as a consequence of racial profiling. The lady accountable is called Lisa Hahn, an aspiring creator that Earn swears revenge in opposition to, going as far as to get her a faux guide deal and a gig studying to kids at a neighborhood library that ends in humiliation. All of it performs out Truman Present-style on screens at a bar, with Earn and all his actors watching and celebrating this petty victory. 

“The Homeliest Little Horse” is a top-tier Atlanta episode due to its contrasts. What begins as heat remedy classes between Black males — all too uncommon in tv or movie — devolves right into a convoluted revenge plot only for its personal sake. Earn’s lot in life is way higher than earlier than, however he goes by the motions virtually as if he can’t assist himself. By the point he’s sitting on the bar, drink in hand and watching this girl get her (nonetheless well-deserved) comeuppance, he smiles and delivers a devastatingly humorous line to shut it out: “I would like to return to remedy.”  — Dylan Inexperienced

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Curtis Baker/FX

12. “FUBU”

The tenth episode in Atlanta’s second season travels again in time to Alfred and Earn’s early college years. This episode stretched the veils of the characters we’ve change into acquainted with, permitting us to see inside conditions which have performed a hand in who they’re now. Earn’s dilemma on this episode is that his classmates are happening an inspection to search out out who has the actual FUBU jersey between him and a fellow classmate, Deven Myers. Earn enlists assist from Alfred, who is ready to get Earn’s classmates to imagine that his shirt is the actual one. 

The plot level of the FUBU jersey directs us to how Earn and Alfred’s relationship has been the identical since they had been youngsters, as Alfred has remained one of many solely ones Earn has needed to be truthful to. This episode additionally represents how poisonous materials objects will be as they’re used to announce or demote those that both have it or don’t, which is proven by Devon’s suicide because of the bullying he skilled for having the “faux” jersey. — Joli-Amour DuBose-Morris

How Atlanta Tackles The Woke White Male Trope

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

11. “The Huge Payback”

Sure, “The Huge Payback” is virtually the religious successor to Dave Chappelle’s notorious “Reparations 2003” sketch, however that doesn’t take away from how good it’s. One of many extra suspenseful episodes from the third season, “The Huge Payback” finds a white man by the title of Marshall Johnson having to owe a Black girl, Sheniqua Johnson, reparations as a result of his household owned her ancestors. Black individuals all through the episode are seen rejoicing within the alternative of receiving reparations, hilariously punctuating the somber temper of white individuals having to atone for his or her ancestors’ wrongdoings.

What provides to the general thriller-esque tone of “The Huge Payback” is the music. An unsettling and sparse rating is current all through, serving as the proper soundtrack to Sheniqua stalking Marshall. After which there’s Minnie Riperton’s eerily triumphant “Les Fleur” on the finish. It’s simply as stunning as it’s unnerving, the digital camera panning out to point out a gaggle of predominantly white servers tending to a gaggle of patrons largely made up of individuals of colour. It’s a dream (or nightmare relying on who’s watching) that Atlanta succeeds in taking part in with, leaving you to replicate on what a world may very well be like for an idea that has really gained some floor in real-life throughout the U.S. — Elijah Watson

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

10. “Barbershop”

Watching “Barbershop” once more lately jogged my memory that it’s been practically 17 years since my final haircut. And if there’s even one barber on the market like Bibby, why would I begin now? On this episode, Paper Boi pulls as much as his standard barber so he can get a trim in time for {a magazine} cowl shoot, and what ought to be a routine reduce and buzz shortly descends into chaos. Bibby drags Paper Boi throughout city for a number of small errands, discovering new and thrilling methods to waste his time within the course of. After being concerned in a minor hit-and-run and being pressured to eat chilly Zaxby’s, the fury in Paper Boi’s face when Bibby makes an attempt to postpone his haircut yet one more second towards the episode’s finish says all of it.

The funniest factor about “Barbershop” is that the episode doesn’t have a lot of a plot. It’s simply half-hour of Paper Boi and his barber moving into shenanigans, set to an anxiety-inducing rating by Flying Lotus and Thundercat. However its antagonist, the shiesty, time-wasting barber, is such a recognizable determine and robust foil to hold the episode on, its meandering construction hardly issues. Anybody who’s ever set foot in a Black barbershop has met somebody like Bibby earlier than, and Robert Powell III’s portrayal wrings equal quantities of agony and humor out of that distinctive frustration. — Dylan Inexperienced

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

9. “Wealthy Wigga, Poor Wigga”

Instructed in black and white, “Wealthy Wigga, Poor Wigga” follows a younger biracial protagonist in his senior yr of highschool, who’s modeled his outward look to be in favor of white privilege. Nonetheless, his perfected ambiguity can’t save him as a result of his father doesn’t have the means to pay for his faculty tuition. This all modifications when a brand new donor for the college, Robert Shea Lee (performed by Kevin Samuels), grants a million {dollars} to the college and proclaims that he pays a full trip for each graduating scholar with one very particular caveat — they need to be Black.

From there, the episode hilariously calls out cultural ideologies which have been subjugated in standard discourse about what it means to be Black, with Lee (alongside a few different judges) asking contenders to show their blackness, which they attempt to do in probably the most absurd methods doable. “Wealthy Wigga, Poor Wigga” is simply as humorous as it’s unhappy, chatting with the advanced problem of how blackness is perceived by those that are — and aren’t — Black, and making it one in every ofAtlanta’s most weird however fascinating episodes throughout its 4 seasons. — Joli-Amour DuBose-Morris

The 15 Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

8. “It Was All A Dream”

Actually, it’s unsurprising that Atlanta ended this fashion, with an episode the place you’re left questioning if what you’ve watched from the very starting has been one lengthy Inception-esque dream from the present’s beloved weirdo, Darius. Sure, many people wished the neatly wrapped-up in a bowtie season finale, the place any and all questions we had left would one way or the other get answered. As a substitute, we get an episode the place Darius could or could not have gone on the deep finish together with his weekly sensory deprivation tank spa visits, and get guilt-tripped about our subsequent Popeyes go to.

Atlanta has all the time subverted expectation to the purpose the place it seems like they’re trolling us (though they’d say in any other case). At occasions that subversion works, and others occasions it hasn’t all through the sequence. However right here, it really works. There’s simply one thing concerning the episode’s closing moments, and attending to see the core group collectively and pleased in a manner that we’ve by no means actually seen earlier than. Was all of it only a dream? Does it matter? After all of the bullshit we noticed Earn, Paper Boi, Darius, and Van undergo, it’s good to finish on a word the place we’re seeing them giggle and smile — whether or not it was all part of the simulation or not. — Elijah Watson

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

7. “Teddy Perkins”

Close to the center of “Teddy Perkins,” the titular pianist is taking Darius on a tour of a makeshift museum he constructed to memorialize his father. “Nice issues come from nice ache,” Perkins says in an unnerving falsetto, as he explains why his father used to beat him and his brother Benny in the event that they fell behind on their piano classes. Darius solely got here to this disturbed man’s home to select up a piano with rainbow-colored keys he discovered on Craigslist, however unknowingly walked into probably the most quietly haunting piece of writing Donald Glover has ever conceived. 

We be taught of Teddy as an isolationist superstar within the Howard Hughes or Michael Jackson sense. He survives off uncooked ostrich eggs and years of parental gaslighting that manifest in a latent self-hatred regardless of his (seeming) success. Finally, Teddy plans to kill Darius, however not earlier than the 2 share a strong dialogue concerning the cycle of trauma. The best way Atlanta leaned into this creeping sense of dread was stunning on the time, and whereas the present’s gone on this course since, it’s by no means been this chilling or unhappy. Listening to Darius, ever the thinker, attempt to deliver Teddy again from the brink earlier than Benny units off a murder-suicide is highly effective past phrases. “Teddy Perkins” was a pointy left flip for the sequence, and its skin-shredding horror stays one in every of Atlanta’s greatest surprises. — Dylan Inexperienced

The 'Atlanta' Season 3 Premiere Referenced These Two Real-Life Tragedies

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

6. “Three Slaps”

The third season of Atlanta upscaled its horror points, with the writers mixing magical realism, terror, and racism into one experimental smoothie. An epitome of this imaginative and prescient board was seen within the season premiere episode “Three Slaps.” The primary 5 minutes of the episode roll a shiver down the viewers’s backbone by breaking the race wall upon the angle of black and white. From there, the horror continues, as we witness a younger boy pressured to reside with an adoptive white household after a steering counselor calls little one providers on his mom. However his scenario with the white household isn’t any higher, as he and some different Black kids are subjected to raw hen, and primarily being slaves working for the white couple.

The writers play on the horrors of white heroism from the steering counselor to the adoptive dad and mom, critiquing this type of allyship as a diluted weapon. The horror of your entire premiere is kissed with finesse realizing that the core of “Three Slaps” is constructed round two real-life tragedies: the 1912 “racial cleaning” of former Georgia city Oscarville (which grew to become Lake Lanier) and the 2018 Hart household murders, the latter of which the episode offers a poignantly happier retelling of the tragic real-life ending that got here of the incident. — Joli-Amour DuBose-Morris

Photograph Credit score: Matthias Clamer/FX

5. “The Goof Who Sat By The Door”

One factor concerning the Atlanta universe is that it goes out of its solution to really feel lived-in. Few episodes accomplish this higher than the late season 4 entry “The Goof Who Sat By The Door,” which takes the media-based satire established in episodes like “B.A.N.” and “Work Ethic!,” and ramps them as much as their logical excessive. The episode is instructed by a faux documentary (airing on the B.A.N. community) concerning the making of the 1995 Disney animation A Goofy Film. Nonetheless, there’s a twist: within the Atlanta universe, the movie was spearheaded by Thomas Washington, a Black animator who was made the CEO of Walt Disney Studios as a consequence of a clerical error. The story is one hundred pc faux, however the lengths they go to make it appear actual — from mixing in precise archival clips and information footage to getting precise real-life Black celebrities like Brian McKnight and Sinbad to contribute to the “documentary” — is astounding. 

“The Goof Who Sat By The Door” is basically a bottle episode in an identical vein to most of season three’s controversial one-off episodes. However “Goof” succeeds the place most of these others failed by being a centered, nuanced, and hilarious manifestation of a long-accepted concept inside the Black group — that A Goofy Film is the Blackest film of all time. — Dylan Inexperienced

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

4. “North of the Border” 

After what Paper Boi endured in “Woods,” it’s comprehensible that the episode’s follow-up, “North of the Border,” finds him desirous to make vital modifications to his burgeoning profession, particularly as regards to his administration. The episode builds up the inevitable discuss he finally ends up having with Earn towards the top of the episode, whose determination to have the gang stick with a deranged fan of Paper Boi’s as a substitute of at a lodge, results in a domino impact of pointless unhealthy issues taking place to the group. Certain, that is simply the straw that breaks the camel’s again, with your entire season dropping hints of Paper Boi’s frustrations with Earn’s administration (particularly compared all of the alternatives fellow rapper Clark County has gotten by his white supervisor, Lucas). However when it’s damaged, all Paper Boi can do is giggle, catching Earn off guard when he blames his cousin for all that went flawed as a substitute of Paper Boi’s buddy, Tracy. When the group returns to the fan’s house solely to see their belongings destroyed (and Earn’s laptop computer stolen) exterior, it’s primarily the nail within the coffin for Paper Boi and Earn.

In a manner, “North of the Border” is Earn’s “Woods.” Like his cousin, Earn can be pushed to the brink and left a bloody and matted mess by the top of the episode, and the best way Glover captures all of that is so heartbreaking, as we’re left to marvel if he’ll adapt to the rising pains required to remain his cousin’s supervisor, or break from the strain. — Elijah Watson

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

3. “Juneteenth”

“Juneteenth” revolves round a celebration of the titular vacation commemorating the top of slavery, however the episode seems like one thing out of a distorted new-age Jim Crow fantasy. Earn and Van arrive to see Black males lining the steps and singing negro spirituals; the bar serves punny drinks like Plantation Grasp Poison and Emancipation Eggnog; and Craig, the white dentist husband of Van’s buddy Monique, flaunts an obsession with Black tradition rooted in stereotypes and horrible slam poetry. Earn and Van faux to be newlyweds and grimace their manner by these banal horrors earlier than Monique talks down on Earn and Paper Boi’s relationship (“There’s all the time one trifling thug within the household”), and Earn fully loses his cool.

Atlanta is well-known for its bouts of magical realism, however “Juneteenth” scales it again for a extra grounded tackle concepts of efficiency, class mobility, and the attract and weight of blackness as a cultural pressure. However most significantly, it’s among the best showcases of Earn and Van’s still-budding relationship. They begin the day mad at one another and neither of them really need to be at this occasion, and that honesty and rejection of upper-class complacency (a distinction to Monique being completely nice as a tether to her rich wigger husband) solely brings them nearer collectively. — Dylan Inexperienced

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Man D’Alema/FX

2. “B.A.N.”

“B.A.N.,” represented a buffet of many concepts. The episode used paradoxical reflections of cancel tradition, the absurdity of trans-racialism, and comical satirical commercials to propel discourse round information and the general media. To zoom in, Paper Boi makes a controversial tweet that prompts him to do an interview on Black American Community’s (B.A.N) the Montague present. There, he goes forwards and backwards with Dr. Deborah Holt, an activist for trans rights, on the concepts of race and gender. 

The combined reactions to the episode replicate the combined opinions which are continuously festering over ideologies of race and gender. “B.A.N” fashioned critiques on how particular person remarks change into the allegory for total actions, presenting how Black persons are pressured to be the dwelling embodiments of the communities they belong to. It’s in a position to current the existence of transphobia in Black and Brown communities, whereas angling how “trans-racialism” is just not indicative and even worthy of precise thought — all whereas poking slightly little bit of enjoyable at Black networks like BET and OWN. — Joli-Amour DuBose-Morris

Best Atlanta Episodes

Photograph Credit score: Curtis Baker/FX

1. “Woods”

Typically, life can throw you a day that’s simply unrelenting. Granted, Paper Boi has had a handful of as of late throughout the sequence, however none of them evaluate to “Woods.” Hoping to distract himself from the anniversary of his mother’s passing, Paper Boi’s day slowly begins to unravel earlier than choosing up velocity on the episode’s half level, the place a gaggle of males who initially appear to be followers of the rising rapper proceed to beat and rob him. In making an attempt to evade one of many males, he results in a forest, the place he’s adopted by a mentally unstable man named Wiley, who threatens to kill him if he doesn’t discover his manner out.

Fortunately, he escapes, ending up exterior of a fuel station, the place he meets a fan and takes an image with them, regardless of having one of many worst days of his life. The episode is a heartbreaking second that finds grief and unlucky occasions colliding in such a terrifying manner for Paper Boi. He’s had the sobering realization that he’s a rapper individuals now acknowledge and acknowledge, for higher and worse. Whether or not it’s a gaggle of hostile males or a honest fan, they each see him as one thing bigger than how he sees himself, disregarding his humanity within the course of. “Woods” is the second we see Paper Boi change into conscious of this, as he reckons with the truth that he’s now not a daily individual anymore and has to maneuver totally different going ahead. — Elijah Watson