Season 1, Episode 8 – The Club
Original Air Date: 10/18/2016
Donald Glover’s Atlanta is beginning to understand its strengths as a television show that isn’t exactly like anything else on television. The most intriguing pieces of the series, unlike many of the other television portrayals of Black life in America, is the fact that it doesn’t act on extremes. There’s not this need to confine to the box of “well-to-do, I have it all together” Black women or the trope of the common struggling, miserable Black man. Earn, Paperboi, and Darius don’t have it together but they aren’t what the majority of the characters perceive them as. Paperboi, as much of a thug as the media in Atlanta defines him as, is far from it, spending most of his time just “trying to get paid.”
One of the brave things about “The Club” is how Paperboi plays with this stereotype, using it to his advantage. He flirts with women and buys bottle service to show that he can be the Atlanta rapper on the scene and when that fails and he doesn’t get paid for being present at the event, he uses the perception of him as a menacing thug to get the money he earns from the club owner.
Much of “The Club” is spent revealing the truth behind the veil that is the Atlanta club scene – a prominent fixture for many tourists and fans of hip-hop culture that has birthed an entire generation of Instagram models, club promoters, rappers and “tastemakers.” Most aren’t as fabulous or as successful as they would love to showcase, most of the celebrities are either obnoxious (Marcus Mile) or simply there for the check (Paperboi). The women that attend are never really there for anything but to make the men pay money at the bar, buying them drinks and trying to impress them. Earn seems to understand the entire concept of this, choosing to chase the club owner through crowds for
Earn seems to understand the entire concept of this, choosing to chase the club owner through crowds for Paperboi’s payment. Unfortunately, everyone in the club seems to be in on the joke except the three main characters, leaving Paperboi probably in need of a lawyer for his assault of the club owner and Darius probably rambling about the shooting that takes place at the conclusion.
The episode’s environment comes off as a Drake song that has worn out its welcome. Once you take off the Noah “40” Shebib production, the Quentin Miller-written verses and probably the Popcann-inspired samples, it’s just a fraudulent attempt to play off whatever the current trend is. Once again, “Atlanta” triumphs in driving home the point that not everything that glitters is gold. All of the characters besides the main three and Van are just ornaments circling around the truth, refusing to be present in the day.
Paperboi, Darius, and Earn could have never arrived at the club and things would continue as normal. The shooting outside of the club will probably just make things even more popular and the girls that flirt with Paperboi will be there next weekend to flirt with the next up-and-coming rapper. But thankfully, within all that mess, we’re being treated to the gold that is this dynamic trio.