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'Atlanta' recap: season 2, episode 2 ('Sportin' Waves')

Posted Thursday, March 8, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Brian Tyree Henry has perfected the Alfred "I'm so disgusted" look, a look he has to use multiple times during Wednesday's "Sportin' Waves" episode.

First up, his fame is putting a crimp on his pot business.

His drug distributor of ten years robs him point blank. The dude first compliments Alfred on his new single, then points a gun at him. "You'll be fine though," the robber reasons. "Your single will probably go platinum and s***." The robber clearly doesn't know how money is made on music today because it sure isn't from selling music. To add insult to injury, the dude is apologetic about robbing Alfred and promises to pay him back - because that's what robbers do, right?

Two other dope distributors cause issues as well because of Alfred's notoriety and his basic hatred of people taking advantage of him in any way, however tiny. One takes a secret selfie with them and posts it immediately on Instagram. He's out. A white dude trying to sound black asks Alfred for his phone number to supposedly do more deals. Within moments, he is sending Alfred his white girlfriend's acoustic rap version of "Paper Boi." Then said girlfriend hits him up and wants to hang.  Instead, Alfred just throws his phone out the window.

Alfred also struggles with how to expand his brand into mainstream - read: white - America. Earn sets up a meeting with Alfred and the executives at a Millennial-friendly marketing firm. It's the type of place with a ping-pong table and a gluten-free snack room. There is no joy on Alfred's face as he enters this world.

Then there's that type of awkward comedic moment that "Atlanta" occasionally revels in. Head of music outreach Peter Savage (nicknamed "35 Savage" since he's the elder statesman at 35) asks for some of Alfred's latest music. Earn hands him a CD. A CD? What decade is he in? This firm has no disc drives now that they have a "state of the art" sound system. They try to play it off Earn's phone but Savage can't figure out how to sync it with their wireless "state of the art" sound system. Earn emails it but the file is deemed "invalid."

Later, Alfred reads liners languidly for an on-line radio station. "Let's do another take. But make it cool," says the white producer. Alfred reads it exactly the same, adding the N-word. "Now do it again and you're at a party and everything is crazy."

Then there's the surreal moment when it seems like everyone is staring at Earn until he turns toward them and they all start bustling about.

"This place, um, has a vibe," Earn says, but not like it's a good vibe.

"Hell yah," Alfred, also with no real conviction - unless sarcasm is a conviction.

"It's going to help you out. You'll be super excited," Earn says, not super excited at all.

"I'll say that when I get my check," Alfred replies, this time with conviction.

Clark "Moneybags" County, an up-and-coming rapper who is far more amenable to all this nonsense than Alfred, is there as well. "It's nice to see some black folks here," Clark says to Alfred and Earn with a wink.

When Alfred starts performing on the office stage, he shows about as much enthusiasm as Kanye West might be at a kid's bar mitzvah. After a few moments, he just drops the mic and leaves the room. He's nobody's puppet! So much for that check.

Then there's a call back to season one, episode four. Darius hands Earn $4,000 from cash he helped Earn "invest" last season by buying a sword for a dog, which was turned over to a puppy breeder. These are proceeds from selling the puppies. But Earn doesn't put the money down perhaps for rent or a car.

Instead, Tracy - Alfred's buddy just out of jail crashing at Alfred's pad - offers Earn a deal: he can double the value of $4,000 in cash via gift cards. Earn, despite his Princeton education, doesn't question Tracy very hard and goes for it.

Tracy needs to shop at the mall to prep for a job interview and Earn joins him. At a shoe store, Tracy blatantly shop lifts because of a supposed "no chase" policy, which Earn knows nothing about. In this case, it works. (Darius, of course, does when informed about it later.)

Earn stays behind and uses the gift card to buy shoes. But moments later, Tracy texts him that "they are onto you" and Earen has 20 minutes tops to use the card before it expires. After buying some stuff in a rush, Earn realizes Tracy had left him behind to go to his interview and he trudges to Alfred's apartment via bus carrying way too many shopping bags for comfort. (Cue visual comedy.)

While at Alfred's, they watch Clark County's Yoo-Hoo commercial, courtesy of the marketing firm featured earlier in the episode. It's ridiculous and oddly catchy. (“We drinkin' Yoo-hoo like it's dirty Sprite”) If Alfred is jealous, he isn't showing it.  "I hate this s***," says Alfred.

Earn? "Man, sh** is good," Earn replaies, though he might have been talking about the weed he was smoking, not Clark's ad.

This isn't the last time we see Clark County. He'll be back next week.


Tracy, aware that "preppy" Earn is an Ivy League grad, asks him how he should talk to white folks during a job interview. Earn's advice is simple: "Don't call them white folks and talk confidently." Too bad Tracey's cool sporty waves in his hair and confident air don't convince the company to hire him. When the white boss tells him there are no openings, Tracy quickly goes unhinged, knocking crap off his desk as he leaves. "You racist as hell!" he says.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.