Atlanta ’Robbin’ Season’ Season 2 Episode 10 Review ’FUBU’

***Spoilers Ahead***


Photo: Alkoya Brunson. Credit: Indiewire/FX

Through the course of a relatively short run, Atlanta has consistently modified and revamped story, setting, and character elements to create a fresh experience every time. For the most part, each attempt has succeeded in marvelous fashion. Episodes like 'B.A.N' or 'Teddy Perkins' have gone down as some of the dramedy's most engaging and thought-provoking outings. With that said, all these installments have had at least one main cast member in the mix. 'FUBU' drops all established actors and journeys into the world of Earn's childhood. Even for an experimental series like Atlanta, this is a rather risky move to pull off. The child performers have to mimic their adult counterparts in a believable manner. To put it lightly, that's usually not an easy task to accomplish. 'FUBU' takes a stab at this and the talented kid characters manage to successfully portray younger versions of Earn and Paperboi. Furthermore, despite the seemingly friendly atmosphere, this episode doesn't shy away from including a tragic, horrifying event.

The bulk of 'FUBU' takes place in a high school and focuses on Earn struggling to prove that his FUBU shirt is legitimate. On the surface, this seems like a generic coming-of-age storyline that can be found in countless family sitcoms or children films. In fact, some aspects of the episode definitely lean dangerously toward that route. Since Atlanta normally strays away from clichés, it comes off as a bit tedious to see them following a fairly familiar design. Despite my quibble about the episode's framework, the acting certainly delivers in all categories. Alkoya Brunson's depiction of a child Earn simply knocks it out of the park. The fact that he's constantly trying to prove himself fits right in with Glover's character traits. As 'FUBU' reaches the midpoint, it's clear that Earn has the fake shirt and Devin owns the real jersey. This revelation immaculately resembles the sort of situation that the adult version of Earn would get himself into. It's not too different from Earn choosing a fangirl's college dorm room instead of a hotel in 'North of the Border'. Both circumstances reveal that he rarely thinks things through despite generally having good intentions. Also, the state of fear and distress that overcomes Earn after he finds out his shirt is a bootleg is incredibly convincing. It feels right at home with how Earn would deal with this predicament while simultaneously giving a realistic look at the toxic environment of high school. While many productions romanticize high school life, Atlanta instinctively addresses the harsh realities of one's adolescent years. Nothing proves this better than Devin committing suicide. 

The death of Devin adds an extra layer of depth to what would have been a fairly shallow episode. Instead of simply being an introspective look at Earn's younger days, 'FUBU' becomes a terrifying depiction of the aftermath of peer pressure and lies. This changes the outcome of Alfred sticking up for Earn and makes that scene rather harrowing to look back on. It's heartbreaking that the signature duo indirectly caused a classmate to commit suicide. But, it's also a bit reassuring that Earn didn't end up being bullied and abused for wearing the fake shirt. This scenario truly conveys how Alfred has had Earn's back from the start. It beautifully shines light on the dark beginnings of their friendship. The only real problem with 'FUBU' does not originate from anything that's onscreen. Instead, the flaw stems from what the writers don't include. The episode could have been better if they had focused more on the dynamic between young Alfred and Earn. Additionally, it wouldn't have hurt to see younger versions of Darius or Van. Although the outing works well without them, I would have preferred to witness a full-fledged backstory that examined the early days of all the characters. 

'FUBU' is an episode that starts off slow and quickly escalates into a horrifying and captivating outing. While it's not perfect, the child actors play their roles well and the writers send a clear, concise message. If nothing else, 'FUBU' shows that Atlanta can still create a solid outing without the help of any of its main characters. Overall, the installment acts an engaging origin story and only strengthens the bond between Alfred and Earn after 'North of the Border' threatened to tear it all down. 

  • I still want to see how Earn met Darius and Van. But, I guess that's material for another episode. 
  • This season went by so fast. Next week is the finale. 
  • I wonder if Childish Gambino's new single will be played at the beginning or end of the finale.

Grade: B

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