FX’s “Atlanta” is legendary for taking inspiration from real-life occasions and controversy, however season three’s ninth episode picks up a brand new storyline we now have but to see from the sequence. In one more detour episode with out our mainstay crew — Earn (Donald Glover), Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (LaKeith Stanfield), and Van (Zazie Beetz) — titled “Wealthy Wigga, Poor Wigga” (a intelligent nod to JAY-Z’s “The Story of O.J.”), we observe a brand new protagonist named Aaron (performed by Tyriq Withers), a highschool senior who struggles with being biracial.
All through the episode, “Atlanta” tugs at Aaron’s internal quarrel that pits his Black and white identities towards one another by way of a sequence of ridiculous situations and delicate hints (just like the Outkast “Stankonia” poster recreation Aaron pays no thoughts to or his out-of-touch views on police violence) that finally drive him to make a troublesome resolution. By means of its signature type of darkish humor, “Atlanta” treads on a really tremendous line to make a poignant level about race in America by tackling reverse racism.
“Atlanta” Season 3, Episode 9, Defined
“Wealthy Wigga, Poor Wigga” begins off with slight references to Aaron’s internal battle with identification after he hurls racial slurs at two Black children taking part in an intense online game with him. The episode peels again extra layers as soon as Aaron reveals that he did not get a scholarship from the identical school his girlfriend, Kate (Rachel Resheff), is attending. Nonetheless, he thinks he might have discovered an answer to his monetary troubles when a rich alumnus of Stonewall Jackson Excessive Faculty, businessman Robert “Shea” Lee (performed by Kevin Samuels), returns to his college to pay tuition payments for all of the seniors — however provided that they’re Black.
For those who’re following together with “Atlanta”‘s methodology of insanity, you will know this portion of the episode is ripped straight from a information headline about billionaire businessman Robert F. Smith. In 2019, Smith famously introduced to the graduating class of Atlanta HBCU Morehouse Faculty that he vowed to repay all their pupil loans.
To prime it off, “Atlanta”‘s model of Smith additionally reveals that he plans to alter the highschool’s identify from “that degenerate slave proprietor” and exchange it with “one of many richest Black males [on] this aspect of the Mississippi” — a nod to the prevailing debates about eradicating the names of racist figures from buildings throughout America. These real-life connections in “Atlanta” are clear as day, however the present’s racially motivated pledges tie proper again into Aaron’s dilemma.
To take the episode a step additional, college students in Aaron’s place can solely obtain Lee’s beneficiant donation if they’ll show their Blackness. From there, Samuels’s character, alongside visitor stars George Wallace and Anthony Daugherty, proceeds to quiz mentioned college students with a sequence of inquiries to mainly see in the event that they deserve their “Black card.”
Aaron, who at that second would not appear to have a clue about his personal tradition, fails the check miserably as Wallace’s character factors out repeatedly, “You’re white! . . . Blacks solely!” And after his girlfriend breaks up with him for now not becoming into her world, Aaron comes up with the one resolution he can consider to assist him slot in: burn down the place he feels he would not belong at with a flamethrower. However, in fact, somebody has already beat him to the punch. (I imply, that is “Atlanta” we’re speaking about.)
After one other failed try to show himself, Aaron lastly chooses to stay to the identification he is been avoiding all his life, and one yr later, we discover him working at an digital retailer with a low fade, gold chain, and stud earrings to match — he selected his Blackness. It is ironic that episode 9 ends with Free Ends’ track “Hangin’ on a String” to tie every thing collectively. However in true “Atlanta” style, the black-and-white episode (a genius contact to the storyline) nonetheless leaves us scratching our heads about all of the unanswered questions the episode would not fairly resolve. Is there one other hidden that means behind it? Is that this Emmy bait just like the episode description suggests? Will these one-off episodes lastly make sense within the finale? Guess we’ll have to attend for episode 10 to reach on Might 19 to search out out.