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5 Times We Laughed A Little Too Hard At The Trauma Of FX’s Atlanta

I cannot say there has ever been a time that I've pondered the blackest show I've ever seen.

I cannot say there has ever been a time that I’ve pondered the blackest show I’ve ever seen. Perhaps, once upon a time, I would have said it was “Good Times”. Or, as I aged a few decades, “A Diff’rent World” would have framed the totality of my experience from a TV perspective.  A chuckle-worthy note is how something as purposefully satirical and scathingly cynical as Aaron McGruder’s “The Boondocks” would have easily hit a high score on my “blackness” barometer.  

While other television shows may have included characters loosely based upon individuals we knew from our various hoods, towns and villages, Atlanta breaths life into those characters who would otherwise be stereotypical, semi-realized, two-dimensional facsimiles.  As the world works hard on Thursday, many will simply be passing their time in anticipation of what stirring representations and interpretations of black trauma will be splashed across the screen by Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, and LaKeith Stansfield.

From Alligator Man’s domestic dysfunction through the sad familiarity of Teddy Perkins, each and every phenomenon upon which Earn, Paper Boi, and Darius stumble across in Season 2 of Atlanta appears as if gleaned from our most intimate ghetto nightmares. Hysterically funny nightmares, but nightmares all the same. It has always been a curious observance for me that most of the funniest people I’ve met, heard or seen came from neighborhood circumstances not unlike the one that spawned me. Indeed, most of the people who’ve made me laugh the hardest are ghetto, in fact.

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What would be more traumatic than being conned by an Uncle to “hold” a firearm while police are outside or participating in a gift card scam with a 30-second expiration? It seems to be that nothing elicits more laughter than trauma.  So, with that in mind, my five most traumatic Season 2 moments of Atlanta.


FUBU


Atlanta | Season 2 Ep. 10: Fake FUBU Scene | FX

When your social life depends on the authenticity of your shirt. Watch this SELECTED SCENE from the tenth episode of Atlanta Robbin’ Season. Subscribe now for more Atlanta clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Two cousins work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families.

What’s more traumatic than being in the seventh grade? Wearing a bootleg version of the hottest urban apparel item. This particular episode resonates so profoundly due to the unprecedented exploration of the type of trauma poor kids of color often face at school. Oftentimes, the entire school is on the same economic level, and we learn early on that appearance matters to “us” more than others. It’s almost like a self-imposed version of respectability politics gone awry.

Teddy Perkins


Atlanta FX S2E6- Darius and Fake Michael Jackson

Fx series Atlanta season 2 episode 6 Teddy Perkins. No copyright infringement intended.

Teddy Perkins is traumatic in imagery and subject matter. It was immediately apparent that the Teddy Perkins character was used to explore ideas of self-hate, black disdain for black culture, the commoditizing of black pain and how black folks are often taught that suffering somehow is for the better good; all of which are hogwash theories.


The Woods 

Atlanta | Season 2 Ep. 8: Woods Preview | FX

Why Paper Boi always got an attitude? He rich, right? That’s why I can’t feel bad for these celebrities. Subscribe now for more Atlanta clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Two cousins work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families.

As a child growing up in the inner city in the Northeast United States, whenever I would ask why we didn’t go camping or hiking, I was always told that the woods were dangerous and that crazy old hermits lurked in the forest confines waiting to pounce.  That literally happened in this episode. This episode also delves deep into black male depression. Paper Boi is on his way up, but the “here and now” of his circumstances has obscured that pending victory with one cultural roadblock after another. The trauma of fumbling just prior to reaching the pinnacle of success is especially traumatic for creatives. For Paper Boi, the woods are not only a literal place he needs to escape but they’re also a metaphor for life. He’s trying to get out of “the woods” of mediocrity via his music yet pitfalls abound.

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Barbershop

Atlanta FX S2E5- Funny Hit and Run Scene

Fx series Atlanta season 2 episode 5 “Barbershop”. Paper Boi goes on a wild joy ride with his barber Bibby. No copyright infringement intended.



The barbershop has always held a special place in the black community. However, very few offerings have explored the life of our favorite charismatic hood conversationalists in the manner that Barbershop does.  We know that some of our barbers believe they’re masters of all trades, with the next hustle only minutes away. We’re aware that we’d probably be better off dealing with another barber, one that will focus on our meticulous edge up rather than a phone conversation, but a man doesn’t take switching barbers lightly. Thus, we’re trapped in his world of paused haircuts, rushed fades and problematic behavior simply because he’s good at what he does.


Alligator Man

katt Williams Atlanta s2 funny clip

funny katt Williams scene in Atlanta s2ep1 alligator man

When I initially watched the Alligator Man episode, featuring comedian Katt Williams, I felt guilt pains each time I laughed at the domestic venom he spit at his wife. In the episode, he’s accused of kidnapping her over $50 that became missing during a nap. He calls her all types of disrespect names often hurled at black women; bitch, hoe, etc. I knew he was going to be “problematic” throughout the episode, but that made me want to watch even more. However, I wouldn’t take Williams any other way.

Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring re black cultural angles of where they intersect with the mainstream.