A simple haircut shouldn’t be a huge ordeal to go through, but when Alfred truly needs a quick one before a photo shoot, it ends up anything but simple. It’s amazing to me that Atlanta would dedicate an entire episode on this very specific task, but it ends up working thanks to the character of Bibby and Alfred’s growing frustrations with what he is going through. It’s a tale of the lengths an African-American man has to go through to remain loyal to their barber bumped to extreme measures.
It’s hard to really talk about this episode because it’s basically a road trip between Al and Bibby on a seemingly never-ending list of tasks Bibby has to accomplish before he can finally get to cutting Al’s hair. It doesn’t help that Bibby is originally late to the initial appointment that Alfred had, but he then is caught in a lie by his girl and has to quickly hurry to avoid punishment. What Al is promised will be a real quick situation then takes a turn for the worst. Bibby cuts his girl’s son’s hair, but has to leave once he’s caught in yet another lie about paying the bills. He understands Al is frustrated, so he promises him some Zaxby’s in return for the wait, only that Zaxby’s is actually leftovers from some random person’s home. Al is unaware of this fact until him and Bibby take all the lumber out of the under-construction home and the actual owner comes and tries to stop them.
It seems after all of this that the barbershop will finally be the next destination, but Bibby encounters his son on the side of the road skipping class and has to make a detour to straighten him up. After efforts from himself, Bibby orders Al to come and enlighten the youth, but they end up just flaming Al for his unfinished haircut instead. This aggravates Al more and he goes on a rant about how rappers are just regular people too and he ain’t anything more special than Bibby’s son. He then heads straight back to the car, hoping he can finally get his cut and be gone. Sadly, Bibby’s arguments with his son cause him to not notice the road and he crashes into another car. Al warns that he is on probation and will not be happy with Bibby if cops get involved, but luckily Bibby also has troubles with the cops so he just dips out, especially once the driver comes out and starts moaning in pain,
After all of these events, the barbershop is finally reached. On the way up the stairs, however, Bibby gets yet another phone call and lies that he is on the way. Before he can dip out, Al grabs him by the shirt and gives him a “I’m going to fuck you up” look, which is all Bibby needs to know he can’t escape this time. The haircut is finally done and Al gets out as soon as he can, not even leaving a tip to Bibby’s sadness. We cut to a time in the future where Al returns to the barbershop, but this time he picks another barber and completely ignores Bibby. When asked by the new barber what Al is looking to do, it dawns on him that he no longer knows what his “regular” is since he had been loyal to Bibby for so long. Al’s final expression towards Bibby across the room is all you need to know that he’ll be back to him the next time, opting to continue dealing with his bullshit as he’s the only one that knows the correct cut for Al.
“Barbershop” is a niche episode that specifically targets the barbershop experience for a black man, but it also offers enough humor that you can still enjoy it without being that demographic. Bibby is definitely the highlight of the episode, being an amalgam of plenty of people I know in real life. Those that lie constantly, have loads of schemes to hatch, and are basically a con artist. As I said before, the other MVP is Alfred and the way he doesn’t even need to say a word for you to laugh. Brian Tyree Henry is so good at emotive comedy and it’s great that he got an entire episode to himself to focus on a day in the life of Paper Boi that has nothing to do with the rap side of things.
Barbershop – 4 out of 5
- Bibby is yet another great new character in this season of Atlanta.
- Brian Tyree Henry’s just too good at looking pissed, exhausted, and over everything.
- Some of Bibby’s lies are so absurd that they’re hilarious, like saying Alfred is a magician and that’s why he’s wearing a cape (the babershop apron).
- This isn’t exactly to the fault of the show, but I wish after the major event between Earn and Van last episode that there would’ve been a follow-up on them. Instead there was this Alfred-centric episode and a Darius-centric one will follow, so no Earn and Van for two weeks.