Atlanta has inspired a slew of questions and raised eyebrows this season from disappointed and perplexed viewers—namely, why did the showrunners pay two white men with looming racial controversies (one of whom is facing abuse allegations) to poke fun at themselves in a toothless manner with the goal of absolving or at least making light of their offenses? (Their cameos certainly didn’t serve any narrative).
Atlanta’s preoccupation with examining whiteness and white people this season seems to be the main grievance amongst fans and an obvious disparity between Seasons 2 and 3, in addition to its overall disjointedness. Still, my biggest gripe with the series of late has been the treatment of Van, who Glover promised would be more of a focal point at the season’s SXSW premiere.
While the show hasn’t shown too much interest in any of the main cast members over its previous nine episodes, the neglect of Van felt more obvious, as the show kept hinting that something notable was occurring in her life while keeping viewers at arm’s length. When Van first arrived in Europe, ostensibly wanting an escape from unemployed, single motherhood, it appeared as though we were about to watch her embark on some sort of Eat Pray Love-esque mission to rediscover herself. But she merely followed the guys around with little to say, slept with Earn once, and giggled at all his questions about her mental state before disappearing into the night. In a less narratively lopsided season, this would read more as foreshadowing and less like abandonment.