Atlanta continues with the standalone episodes focusing on one of the four main cast members, this time shifting the spotlight to Van on her attempts to move on from Earn and enjoy herself. The backdrop is an interesting one for this occasion: a NYE party hosted by Drake at his Atlanta mansion. So, Van heads out with her three friends on a mission to stunt and possibly get a photo with Drake to post on Instagram. We should all know by now that a successful mission is rarely how Atlanta chooses to operate though.
It seems this episode is meant to put some shade on the idea of showing out to gain the approval of others. Despite their relationship ending in a rocky place, Van still can’t help but search for all instances of Earn online and gets jealous seeing him living his best life without her, so she desires to do the same. Instead of doing it for herself, however, her goal of getting a photo with Drake to post online is actually to boost her ego, be it to one-up Earn or anyone else she wants to be superior to. This coincides with Darius’ encounter with Van’s friend Nadine. Her high experience makes her question everything around her, so Darius and his super philosophical self give her the rundown of Bostrom’s simulation argument – basically saying that we’re in a simulation and nothing is real.
The idea that nothing is real and fakeness is all around you hits several parts of the episode. Van trying to flex for the attention of others is not her, thus it’s fake. Darius believes that the world that they live in isn’t real, thus it’s fake. And ultimately, it turns out that Drake isn’t even at the party that he was claimed to be hosting. All the Instagram photos that Van saw online earlier were fakes with Drake cardboard cutouts. If you can’t accept what you really are and what’s around you, it will cause you to get swept up in the fakeness that everyone else exhibits to try and make themselves feel better about the life they’re living.
To add another layer to it that might’ve not been Ibra Ake’s intention, Drake has been under attack several times by fans and critics alike that he likes to bite sounds from other cultures that aren’t his own. This episode even ends with Van’s revelation that in Atlanta‘s universe, Drake is actually Mexican. You can see this as commentary that even one of the world’s most successful rappers has to bend the truth about himself in order to continue growing.
As an episode, “Champagne Papi” was fun. It’s nice to see Van interact with others outside of Earn, Al, and Darius. Giving each character more development through solo outings is a good move and it seems next week will give Alfred yet another. As a commentary though, I enjoyed “Champagne Papi”‘s message on avoiding the fake things in life and not letting yourself fall into the trapping as well. Atlanta is getting better each episode at not only being a comedy, but also adding dramatic elements in and giving critiques on real life situations that you can learn from.
Champagne Papi – 4 out of 5