This week’s episode of Atlanta, “Go For Broke”, delves a little deeper into the relationship dynamic between Earn and his child’s mother, Van. While we got a slight glance into their situation during the first two episodes, we’re given a closer look at where they stand, what Earn hopes to provide them, and what Van demands from him. While their narrative continues to unfold, we’re also given an update on Paper Boi, who is struggling to find the balance between the street life and his burgeoning rap career. Glover continues to sprinkle in social issues the Black community faces as well, focusing on the topics of economic irresponsibility, lack of resources for social mobility, and support in relationships.
Picking up from where the last episode left off, Earn is out and about, struggling to make ends meet while attempting to keep Van happy. With just $69 in his bank account, he understands that he’s unable to make any moves or support her in the near future. When Van returns home after a day of work, she realizes that he spent his day smoking and chilling. She’s clearly incensed, showing her desire for him to develop more as a father figure and do more to take responsibility for his daughter. He understands what she expects, but also wants her to understand that he has to do things his way. He asks her out to dinner to appease her, knowing he lacks the resources to do so. In a comical turn of events, the restaurant a friend of his recommended no longer provides the affordable meals he was expecting, and his waitress is adamant about suggesting the most expensive options on the menu. Van continues to express her desire for him to become more ambitious, and asks him what he truly desires from life. He can’t provide a solid answer, but seeks the time to figure out. After their dinner, they get into another fight, where he asks her to be more understanding while he decides on his next move. Surprisingly, she shuts him down, leaving him to enjoy his champagne alone.
Paper Boi is still dabbling in the street life, continuing his career as a drug dealer. While Earn suggests he stop because of his growing profile, he explains that it’s an extremely lucrative business, and alludes to a coming drug deal with his “amigos”. After the play is set up, viewers realize that his suppliers are actually the Migos themselves, led by Quavo, a ruthless, murderer. Clearly frightened by the tense situation, Paper Boi somehow manages to navigate through the tension and close the deal. He walks away with the product he needs, and proves that he may be a lot more adaptable than viewers believed him to be.
Earn’s situation speaks to an issue that many males in the Black community face, which is a lack of economic responsibility and accountability for their finances. This issue tends to spill over into relationships, where loved ones aren’t always provided what they need. The causes of this situation are debatable, whether it be because of the government’s lack of educational tools and career opportunities for lower-class individuals, or because of a general apathy some males have toward pursuing traditional career paths. The rift his economic troubles cause between him and Van provide a segue into another issue in many young relationships as well, which is supporting the dreams of significant other’s despite the end goal. Neither Earn nor Van have much belief in the other’s dreams, and it doesn’t create a healthy space for them to communicate and learn from one another. She doubts his drive to to fully pursue his goal, while he doubts the possibility of her achieving what she wants. Many couples can learn from this relationship and realize how toxic their habits are for one another. Paper Boi’s occupational pursuits also reflect a popular sentiment in the impoverished Black community, where the risk of illegal activity is warranted by the reward of easy money. It’s a dangerous cycle, because many of the individuals that follow that path end up incarcerated, which in turn only allows them to continue to do illegal activities for money.
Overall this episode speaks to the struggle for money, and how the need for it causes a number of issues in both personal and professional relationships. The lack of it also causes a number of irrational or irresponsible behavior, and the characters are beginning to realize that it’s crunch time to find more realistic opportunities in the near future.