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Earn Is No Loser, He’s Simply A Struggling Black Man In America

Before Donald Glover became the first African-American to win an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for his incredible work on Atlanta, prior to us grasping the brilliance of what he was bringing forth through the individual and collective narratives of the characters Earn, Alfred, Darius and Van, and without having presented one episode of the show that would quickly become one of greatest dramatic and comedic works of art to ever grace a television screen, Glover said, The thesis with this show was to show people what its like to be black, and you cant write that down. You have to feel it.

And now that Season 2 is a wrap after last week’s finale, we have a fuller understanding of how beautifully he’s accomplished his mission in such a short period of time. 

Atlanta | Season 2 Ep. 2: No Chase Policy Scene | FX

Take advantage of that No Chase Policy. Watch this SELECTED SCENE from 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. Donald Glover serves as Executive Producer, along with Paul Simms, Dianne McGunigle and Stephen Glover.

In just the last few weeks, we’ve seen men arrested at a Starbucks for simply “sitting while Black”, a Hispanic man threatened at gunpoint over a pack of Mentos that he’d actually purchased, several people of color murdered at one Waffle House and another arrested with wanton, unnecessary and life-threatening violence.

We’ve seen Black women, at a golf club in which they’re members, have the police called on them, others wrongly accused of stealing clothes from Nordstrom Rack and a female Black graduate student at Yale questioned by campus cops for the crime of “napping while Black”in a dormitory common room. 

And of course, the latest insanity of a group having the police called on them for the utter audacity of simply barbecuing  on a beautiful day in an Oakland public park.

Atlanta | Season 2 Ep. 9: Family Ain’t Enough Scene | FX

Make your next moves your best moves. Watch this SELECTED SCENE from the ninth 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.

Atlanta is about race and status, of Black people having to navigate a shitty society with the odds stacked against them. And despite its categorization, it’s far from a sitcom. 

There are some inherent comedic elements, but it’s a life and death drama of the highest order.

If you’re late to the party and haven’t watched the show yet, I implore you to binge watch it right now. It’s a work of art that’s too ambitious and important for folks to catch up on after the fact.

Atlanta | Season 2 Ep. 1: Florida Man Scene | FX

No one knows his true identity. All new episodes of Atlanta Robbin’ Season Thursdays at 10p on FX. 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.

Now that we’ve been able to digest this current season in its totality, it’s time to address this tired, lazy narrative being put forth that Earn, the show’s main character, is a loser. 

That’s an erroneous assumption to jump to. Yes, he’s struggling with sporadic homelessness, depression, fatherhood and finding his way in the world. But to call him a loser is to see him through the lens of how white America defines us without sifting through the complicated personal and societal dimensions that he’s up against.

Dropping out of Princeton does not make him a loser. Nor does the irrefutable fact that he’s made some major missteps in managing Alfred, his cousin whose rap alias is Paper Boi, and his inability to organize his life and priorities in ways that reap immediate benefits for Van, his on-again, off-again girlfriend and the mother of his daughter.

The Shadow League on Twitter

There have been some major losses taken during Season 2 of Atlanta. Here are some of the most notable L’s. #AtlantaFX https://t.co/dhc46OuKOg

Being broke, and the instability of his financial and professional situation doesn’t make him a loser either. He’s sincerely trying.

Earn might be going through a form of prolonged adolescence as he takes his bumps and bruises, but there’s no denying that his heart is in the right place.

And all of the major characters are struggling to find their way, from Van losing her job due to a failed drug test, to Darius being too philosophical and curious to bounce after his initial interactions with Teddy Perkins, to Alfred’s difficulty in reconciling his newfound local fame with the corny industry bullshit and shady business dealings he’s now subject to, along with becoming a target of local stickup kids and wrestling with his own depression and definitions of authenticity.

Atlanta | Season 2 Ep. 6: Understanding Teddy Perkins Scene | FX

Was Darius willing to die for that piano? Watch this selected scene from the sixth 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.

With the close of Season two, we’ve seen some loose ends being tied up as far as Earn is concerned. 

From him briskly walking past the credit card salesman at the airport en route to Paper Boi’s European tour, the job that he held and abhorred when we met him in the opening episode of Season one, to the quandary of the gun he was given by his uncle in the ingenious “Alligator Man” episode, Earn’s turned a corner in his life.

That’s evident in the “North of the Border” episode, when he reaches his boiling point as the world seems to be crumbling beyond repair around him, as he tells Alfred to pull the car over so he can fight the recently paroled Tracy. Earn gets his ass whipped in metaphorical splendor, but he rises with a realization. 

EARN VS TRACY sad Atlanta clip s2ep9

It’s time for him to fight, as opposed to letting life and the whims of a world stacked against him beat him down without showing any resistance in a feeble attempt at escape.

Earn’s no loser. Far from it. 

To be a Black man in America, winning isn’t about the white picket fence with the two-car garage, money in the bank, popping bottles or being able to beat Michael Vick in a footrace outside of an Atlanta strip club. 

Atlanta | Season 2 Ep. 3: Racing Michael Vick Scene | FX

When you’re feelin’ yourself a little too hard. Watch this SELECTED SCENE from 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.

It’s about holding on, getting knocked down and standing back up, determined to fight on another day.

It’s about what Sharif’s father, Mr. Butler, told Caine in Menace II Society: “Whatever changes you have to make, can you just do it? You gotta think about your life. Being a Black man in America isn’t easy. The hunt is on! And you’re the prey! All I’m saying is, all I’m saying is, survive.”

Earn’s trying to find his footing in an unfair world. Alfred tells him, before the plane pulls onto the runway, just as we’re all anticipating his cousin’s demise, “N****’s do not care about us, man. N****’s gonna do whatever they gotta do to survive, cause they aint got no choice.”

And earlier in the finale, Darius philosophically waxes, “I see you learning, but learning requires failure. Al just tryna make sure you arent failing in his life. And, I mean, you both black, so you dont get a chance to fail.”

With the “FUBU” episode, we learn that Alfred and Earn are more like brothers, and that we’ve only seen a sliver of the depth of their love and bond, how they’ve taken their mothers’ words to heart when they were told to have each other’s back out in the world, no matter what.

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.

To understand Atlanta, Earn and the rest of the characters, you have to understand the nuance of what’s not being said, and what’s being communicated in silence, facial expressions and moments where Darius literally puts his foot into his homemade pasta, or when he’s playing chess against himself, or when we laugh at an invisible car that speeds away from a nightclub shooting, even though it’s probably killed a person or two in the process. 

And when Earn has to make a choice after momentarily being frozen in anguish while going through airport security, we smile approvingly with what he does, even though it’s wrong. Because America will always do us wrong. Life ain’t fair. And playing by the rules gets you nowhere.

“I saw what you did,” Afred tells him before they take off for their first tour, an international one no less. “Just know thats exactly what Im talking about. N*****’s gotta do what they do to survive because they dont got no other choice. We dont either. You my family, Earn, you the only one who knows what Im about, and you give a fuck. I need that.”

TSA airport scene Atlanta season finale 2×11

Uploaded by Kane Will on 2018-05-12.

Earn needed that. We needed that. 

And through Earn, we see the struggle of trying to keep our heads above water, making a way when we can. After all, life is a marathon, not a sprint, especially for a Black man in America.

Loser? Far from it. 

He’s a survivor who’s truly, just now, getting his feet on solid ground.

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