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Atlanta Episode Eight Review, “The Club”

If you’re a rapper trying to break into the mainstream, you live and die by the club. Atlanta in particular is known for consistently churning out new rappers just as much it is known for having them crash and burn. Regardless of whether or not a rapper enjoys any or all aspects of club life, few would dispute that it is one of the best ways to get a song to chart.

Donald Glover and Atlanta don’t care about any of that. This episode, like all the episodes of the show thus far, gives an incredibly realistic and entertaining look at one key aspect of life in this city. Similarly to the beloved Seinfeld episode “The Parking Garage,” which takes place in one setting, over 90 percent of “The Club” takes place in one spot. Like Kramer falling down the rabbit hole in the parking lot, Earn does the same in the club while chasing the promoter. The trippy lighting effects that cover the screen when Earn searches for the man are similar to the colors on the screen when Alice falls down into Wonderland, something the show is too smart to have done only accidentally.

The aptly named club “Primal” is where Earn (Donald Glover), Paper Boi (Brian Henry Tyree) and Darius (Keith Stanfield) spend their evening. The group’s distaste for the frustrating and vapid nature of clubs is forced to compete with their desire to make a quick buck, eventually causing the night to end in chaos.

Like a jungle predator stalking its prey through the tall grass, Earn slides through the crowd, contorting his body in a way that anyone who frequents a club can attest to the accuracy of. Not trying to pull any punches, the show provides subtitles for some of Earn’s quips in the crowd. Rather than try and do a bit involving miscommunication, the show cleverly acknowledges that no one who actually wants to be acknowledged will even try and be heard while the bass is blaring.

Politics in the nightlife industry are notorious for being just as difficult to maneuver and frustrating as politics on the Hill. Trying to get into the VIP section, buying people drinks and getting paid a fair price for your appearance are all things that even the most established rap stars have to cope with. All three main actors in the episode demonstrate through their physicality, delivery and dialogue why they should be considered for Emmys. When Paper Boi finally lunges at the club promoter for skimping him on his money, there is a palpable, believable and primal rage on display.

By the end, Paper Boi is wanted in connection to a shooting that, all too predictably, occurred at the end of the night. Given what has already happened in the season, it’s unlikely that this will advance the plot significantly. The show doesn’t care. It doesn’t play by traditional television rules. Atlanta’s devotion to fully realizing these characters is nearly unprecedented. The plot serves as merely a platform for viewers to watch the cast act out the all-black writing room’s vision of how these unique, yet wholly relatable characters would function.

Like the aforementioned Seinfeld, Atlanta is able to focus on something specific, but in the grand scheme of it, really nothing at all. Each episode deals with distinct situations that are only loosely connected to the overarching plot. It isn’t concerned with trying to weave together some intricate story. It’s a show about a certain subset of people, and time after time it shows it understands these types of people, and possibly human nature, more than anyone else.

Grade: B+

Atlanta is on Tuesdays this Fall at 10pm (ET) on FX and available to stream at FXNOW

growell@theeagleonline.com


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