On ‘Atlanta,’ Earn And Van Celebrate A Ridiculous ‘Juneteenth’

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BY: Alan Sepinwall 10.26.16

A quick review of tonight’s Atlanta coming up just as soon as I feel like I’m in a Spike Lee-directed Eyes Wide Shut

“Juneteenth” is another remarkable half-hour of TV in a debut season full of them. It’s one of the purely funniest episodes of Atlanta so far, as the Juneteenth party thrown by Van’s friend turns into a parade of ridiculous people behaving ridiculously, and Earn and an increasingly drunk Van doing their best to hide their natural reactions to them. But it also works as an achingly poignant look at where things stand between the two of them now that Van is no longer the obvious breadwinner.

Alfred and Darius were absent, but they weren’t really needed, thanks to how well Donald Glover and Zazie Beetz played Earn and Van’s response to Craig the honorary black man, to the aging playwright boasting of her play about a hostage situation at a strip club during Hurricane Katrina (Earn: “That’s a real situation!”), to the gigantic mega-church reverend, to the valets who carry their sister’s panties around with them at all times because “You never know, man,” and everyone else. Some of the most effective comedy can come from reacting rather than dialogue, slapstick, or other more active choices, and it was hilarious watching Earn in particular try to contain himself around Craig.

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