‘Atlanta’ recap (‘Money Bag Shawty’): season 2, episode 3… Michael Vick appears!

ATLANTA — Season Two, Episode 3 – Pictured: Donald Glover as Earnest Marks, Zazie Beetz as Van. CR: Guy D’Alema/FX

Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

If you’re a white person carrying $100 bills in 2018, you might be seen as a player. If you’re Earn? You’re a suspect black dude carrying $100 bills.

He seems eternally cursed on “Atlanta.” Even when he has money, it seems like he can’t really enjoy it.

Up front, he receives a nice check from Paper Boi’s success. He plans to “stunt,” meaning show off his bling. “The stunters have become the stunted,” he tells his baby’s mama Van with unusual Earn confidence.

He turns some of the check into $100 bills and takes Van to see the latest “Fast and Furious” film When he hands over a crisp $100, the cashier won’t take it. When he hands her his debit card, she said she needs to copy it. (“New policy,” she said.) He doesn’t want copies of his debit card floating around so it’s no go with the movie. To make matters worse, a white dude next in line hands over a $100 bill and the (white) employee takes it, no questions asked. When Earn approaches to protest, the man quietly shows off his gun holster. (Open carry, y’all!) That confrontation ends before it begins.

“I told you not to use a $100 bill,” Van says, kindly. “Nobody uses cash like that anymore. Are you Gucci Mane?”

“Why? It’s legal U.S. tender!” Earn protests.

He calls this textbook racism and caught the employee “red handed.” Van teases him that the term is racist, possibly related to Native Americans. (She’s joking. It’s fake news! It’s actually of Irish origin.)

Next, they try a hookah bar. He uses a $100 bill to get in ($20 entry fee, $80 in change). Moments later, he is flagged for offering up a fake bill. Earn shows the manager that the bill has a clear security watermark but the man doesn’t buy it. Instead, he kicks Earn and Van out. The cop who escorts him out adds insult to injury by admitting the bill was real but didn’t bother to question the boss. Nice.

“That,” Van concludes, “was definitely racist.”

Earn’s third stop? Onyx strip club on Cheshire Bridge Road. But he can’t even enjoy spending money there because he quickly realizes they are stripping him of his cash in a rather obnoxious way.

He tries to break a $100 into $1 bills but there’s a $200 minimum and a 20% charge fee. Then the DJ harasses him into giving a tip to the “Bankhead Barbie.” One stripper offers him a lap dance. He tells her to give it to Van. She boogies for about two seconds, then requests $20. Finally, the waitress says the strip club not only charges him for VIP seating but the drinks are extra – including $200 for some tequila.

He gets seriously bummed out. “I don’t even know why I’m here,” he complains. “This place has been finessing me all night.”

“Duh! Ni***!” Alfred says. “It’s a strip club! That’s what it’s for!”

Fortunately, it’s time for the story to get a wee warped because this is “Atlanta”! Michael Vick – the former Falcons quarterback – is in the parking lot racing people for money. He’s done like six races in 10 minutes. So Earn thinks Vick is tiring and goes for it.

This is Earn. Guess who stunts who.

OTHER STORY LINES:

Not so cool after all: Remember the appearance of last week of Clark County, the rapper with the Yoo-Hoo commercial? He invites Alfred over to his studio. At first, everything is kosher until Alfred offers Clark a blunt (nope, he doesn’t do that) and some Hennessy (nope, he doesn’t drink that either.). But then they see his dark side. When the music track crashes, Clark goes hard on the poor engineer. “If it crashes again, I’m going to crash my foot in your a**,” he says. “Fix that s***!””)

Later, when Clark wonders why Alfred doesn’t get in on the endorsement money, Alfred’s excuse is his image doesn’t fit that. He passed on “Rap Snacks” with his own flavor “Cocaine White Cherry.” He wanted in on the “Fast and the Furious” soundtrack and was impressed that Clark got a track in. Clark credits his manager Luke, which makes Alfred wonder about the utility of Earn as his manager. (I presume this tension will come up later.)

When the music program crashes again, Clark walks out and two rough-looking dudes ask Alfred and Darius to depart, too. The poor (white) engineer is about to get a beat down.

Any publicity is good publicity: The show opens with a suburban mom doing some sort of Snapchat video complaining about the lyrics of a Paper Boi song on some sort of top 40 station that her daughter listens to. It’s amusing to watch her stilted read of his lyrics, which makes her cry. Of course, Paper Boi/Alfred appreciates the viral publicity. “I’d send her a** a gift but she was slick hatin’ yo!” he says, breaking into an unusually joyful smile.  (His smile disappears the minute a waiter asks him for help getting into the music biz. So many folks want stuff from him! He is supremely annoyed by this side effect of fame.)

 

 

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