By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Tuesday, October 4, 2016, AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
FX’s hit show “Atlanta” is a meditation on living and living with consequences. It’s about the choices we make and how taking the “high” road (ahem) isn’t always the best way.
Episode six is focused exclusively on Van (Zazie Beetz), Earn’s baby mama and good friend. She’s a teacher who is basically keeping herself, Earn and their daughter afloat financially.
She meets up with an old friend Jayde (Aubin Wise), who basically makes her living sleeping with rich athletes. That means private jets, fancy hairstylists, pricey outfits. Those are her values. The pair have a meal at a lush restaurant. Van,who is trying to live a righteous life, is both jealous and a little disgusted with her friend and the way she chooses to live. Jayde, in the meantime, is a little disgusted with Van’s appearance and her inability or unwillingness to just go out when she wants to and party!
After Jayde mocks Van a bit, Van gets judgmental of Jayde’s life choices. The friends then sit in extended silence as a waiter presents their dishes and then leaves politely. The funniest moment: despite the awkwardness, Jayde feels a need to photograph her food for Instagram.
Moments later, Jayde’s male athlete friend shows up with his uglier buddy for Van. Van instantly leaves, flabbergasted. In the parking garage, Jayde pulls up in a high-class vehicle and convinces Van to light up some weed. They have a lovely evening after all.
But the next morning, Jayde sees a reminder on her phone of a drug test that day. She’s screwed. It takes weeks for marijuana to leave your system. She seeks advice from Alfred (who doesn’t help at all), doesn’t bother telling Earn what happened (shameful!) and uses a condom to hold urine she culled from her daughter’s diapers to sub for her own.
It’s a full-proof plan! But at school, Vanhas trouble opening the knotted condom and spills the urine everywhere when it pops. Of course.
Later, when the principal wonders why Van didn’t provide a sample, she does what she thinks is the right thing: confess. She says she smoked weed. At first, the principal lulls her into thinking this isn’t a big deal. First of all, due to budget cuts, they don’t actually test this particular sample of urine. It’s just a deterrent. And she sympathetically says it’s tough to teach in a school like theirs and weed takes the edge off. That’s understandable.
But then she says since Van admitted to her that she took an illegal substance, she’s fired.
To make matters worse, the principal (a black female, natch…) goes up and hugs Van and then says she has “loud” energy despite her sullen silence. And she also insults Van’s hair, like an added kick in the ego.
Donald Glover always manages to throw in some strange imagery in each episode just to throw us off. In this case, it’s a kid who comes to school wearing “white face,” freaking a fellow teacher out. Why? Why not? When Van – who is given a week to leave- slumps into a chair in the classroom, she spies the boy, who smirks.
Should smoking weed be a fire-able offense? Probably not. But it’s the rules and now she is truly truly screwed.