Atlanta is a show on FX, a network known for original series that are “edgy,” if I had to sum it up in just the one word. I loved Nip/Tuck, The Bridge, Fargo, and the first couple seasons of American Horror Story. Never saw Sons of Anarchy, Justified, or The Americans, but those are a few examples of more FX shows that were critically-acclaimed hits. They really push the boundaries of what can be said and done on basic cable. And, ever since the first season of American Crime Story, they have been letting the F-bombs fly, with reckless abandon.
(Side note: I’m definitely no puritan. I can cuss it up just as much as anybody, but it still bothered me when FX ultimately opened the “F%#k” floodgates. I don’t mind a few here and there throughout your story, but when it seems like every other word is “F%#k,” it starts to sound like noise pollution to me.)
Anyway, Atlanta is what some might call a “black” show, because it features mostly black characters. Thus, as I alluded to in my piece about black movies, there’s a lot more stuff in Atlanta that I’ve either experienced first-hand, or can quite readily relate to. The “FUBU” episode hit very close to home with me, in a lot of ways.
Even though it was the 1980’s when I was in eighth grade, and not the 1990’s like it was in this episode, status was a huge thing in my school. Having the freshest brand-name clothes separated the somebodies from the nobodies. If you had no loot, you were a nobody. In the Washington D.C. area, if your clothes were from Morton’s or Woolworth’s, and not Woodies or Up Against The Wall, you were a nobody. If your shoes were from Kinney or Fayva, and not Foot Locker or Four Dudes, you were a nobody. I. Was a nobody. I didn’t start “stylin’ until my senior year in high school, when I got myself a part-job. At one point, I had a different pair of Nike or Reebok shoes for every day of the school week. Then I went on to college, and I was broke again. But I’m getting off-topic.
In “FUBU,” young Earn shows up to school in a funky fresh , screaming yellow FUBU brand shirt that he begged his mom to buy him. He’s so charged up to strut his stuff, he wakes up before his alarm and practically runs to school. Unfortunately for him, his classmate Devin shows up with an almost-identical FUBU shirt. The kids are convinced that there’s no way FUBU could have made more than one kind of shirt, so one of them must be fake. They use the term “bootleg” also. Both kids swear that their shirts are the real deal, and it’s not like Earn knows his shirt is fake; he doesn’t. But he seems fairly certain that Devin’s isn’t. Devin even says that Earn comes to school in generic clothes nearly every day, so why should Earn’s FUBU be real?
Eventually, with the help of older cousin Alfred, the kids discern that the real shirt was made in Bangladesh, and the fake one was made in China. Again: How these kids know that this clothing company can’t possibly have sweatshops in two parts of Asia is anyone’s guess. In any event, Devin is outed, and the fashion police come down on him hard. Sadly Devin doesn’t deal with the shame very well at all.
I recall wanting my mother to buy me an Izod Lacoste pullover nylon jacket, but once she saw the price, it was a no go. I convinced her to buy me a cheap knockoff, and to sew a Lacoste alligator from one of my cousins’ old shirts onto it. She did, and I went to school the next day rockin’ a fake “gator” jacket. All anyone would have to do to find out if it was fake was look at the tag (which was the first thing the kids did in “FUBU”), or scrutinize the stitching, but they never did. And I was never called out for wearing a fake, so either my schoolmates just accepted that it was fake, or they didn’t care one way or the other.
Nope, our fake clothing was never an “is it or isn’t it?” kinda thing. When we would go shopping downtown, and there were sidewalk vendors selling Gucci T-shirts for $5, we knew full well that they were Hanes Beefy T’s with a Gucci emblem silkscreened onto them. We wore ’em anyway. Getting clowned for wearing fake stuff wasn’t nearly as prevalent as getting picked on for being short and runty, having a big head, or having the audacity to take a poop in the bathroom. Still, this episode of Atlanta Robbin’ Season stirred up quite a few memories of my school days. Three out of five stars.