‘Atlanta’ Turned Into A Lost ‘Chappelle’s Show’ Episode With ‘B.A.N.’

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BY: Alan Sepinwall 10.12.16

A review of tonight’s Atlanta coming up just as soon as I’d like to be as smart as a baby dolphin…

If last week’s episode was Donald Glover and company demonstrating that they could find both comic and dramatic value in a previously minor character like Van, then “B.A.N.” is the creative team proving that they can make a show that only vaguely even takes place in the Atlanta universe and still make it work.

“B.A.N.,” named for a fictionalized spin on B.E.T. (with some TV One thrown in for good measure) is essentially a lost episode of Chappelle’s Show or Key & Peele, presenting a series of sketches under the umbrella of being part of an episode of the fictional Montague talk show, or the commercials that air during it. (Some of them — the early Dodge ones in particular — are so convincing that I fear some viewers may fast-forward past them.) Paper Boi appears, and at one point calls out to Earn who is just off-camera on the Montague set, but he’s mainly there to be the straight man, and to help provide a spine on which to place the different ideas. Some of the sketches spin off the discussion of trans awareness and tolerance — like a long filmed piece about a “transracial” black teenager who identifies as a 35-year-old white man — while others were riffing on products targeted to black audiences (no one cares about the family-grown tobacco in Swisher Sweets, because they’re just dumping it out to fill the cigarillos with weed) or just expanding on ideas or characters the show found interesting, like the return of Ahmad White, the weird guy with the Nutella sandwiches who met Earn on the bus in the pilot.

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