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Atlanta is a series created by and starring Donald Glover, set in the eponymous city of Atlanta, one of the top cities for young rappers looking to make a name for themselves in the business.

Among those up-and-comers is Alfred Miles (Brian Tyree Henry), a hot new artist going under the rap name Paper Boi, who is trying to understand the line between real life and street life.

He is managed by his cousin, Earnest "Earn" Marks (Glover), who gets caught up in the local rap scene and his cousin's career after returning home to Atlanta. Earn does whatever he can to try to get Alfred's career to the next level. Darius Epps (Lakeith Stanfield), the rapper's right-hand man and visionary, is also in Alfred's entourage.

When Earn isn't busy managing his cousin's career, he spends much of his time with ex-girlfriend Vanessa Keefer (Zazie Beetz), who is also the mother of his daughter.

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While nominally a comedy, Atlanta might be best described as "Twin Peaks but set in the South" as it blends drama, Magical Realism and horror together into a mix as complex as the city it's set in. The series is very experimental, often having episodes with strange subplots or highly symbolic interactions contrasted with weird, quirky asides. The series is also filled with social commentary on racism, black culture, and the rap scene in general.

The series is set to air for four seasons, with the most recent third season airing on March 24th, 2022. The final season is set to air in Fall 2022.


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Atlanta provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: The only characters who are likely to be in every episode are Earn, Alfred or Darius, and it's not a guarantee that they'll be in the episode all together. In Season 2 this is even more common, with several episodes only starring one of the main characters. The first episode of Season 3 the only main cast member is Earn, and he only shows up for 30 seconds at the end of it. The rest of the season has several "anthology-style" episodes which have no appearance by the main cast.
  • Actor Allusion: In "Teddy Perkins," Teddy takes a picture of Darius, who then says he doesn't like pictures too much.
  • Adam Westing:
    • In "Tarrare", Alexander Skarsgård plays a sex-crazed, unhinged version of himself who displays cannibalistic tendencies.
    • In "Trini 2 De Bone", Chet Hanks plays a former client of Sylvia's who speaks in a fake Trinidadian accent. In real life, Chet Hanks is known for his attempts at a Jamaican Patois accent.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Antoine Smalls (a.k.a. Harrison Booth), the trans-racial character in "B.A.N.", seems like a mean-spirited caricature of transgender people, but people who claim to be "trans-racial" actually do exist.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Zan, the internet personality trolling Paper Boi. Lampshading this becomes a Running Gag in the episode "The Streisand Effect"; every time he's mentioned, characters ask something along the lines of "Isn't he Dominican?", "Is he Asian?", or (after he casually uses the N-word) "Are you even black?"
  • Amicable Exes: Van and Earn, to the point where they are barely exes, such as in "Helen" when Earn accompanies Van as her lowkey date.
  • Artifact Title: Season 3 shows Alfred's European tour, so only the non-cast episodes are even set in the U.S.
  • As Himself: Liam Neeson in "New Jazz", and Alexander Skarsgård in "Tarrare".
  • Bald Head of Toughness: Discussed in the second episode of Season 3 by Darius when a young, prematurely-balding guy he meets at a party asks him if he should just shave it all off.
Darius: I dunno, I feel like that's more easily pulled off by white men that are assumed to be dangerous, right. Like Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, The Rock... Same reason why Black dudes can do it as well..."
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In Season 3, Earn is finally a skilled manager for Alfred, making tons of money and able to navigate the music scene. He's also burning out from the workload and finding Europe is just as bizarre and potentially dangerous as Atlanta.
  • Becoming the Mask: Downplayed. The episode "The Woods" is all about Alfred's stubborn refusal to give into the rapper persona and preference to "keep it real." His refusal to do so leads to him striking out on his own, nearly getting killed, and going through an intense odyssey of questionable veracity wherein Al becomes just a little bit closer to accepting the trappings that his fame is bringing him, in conjunction with letting go of the past he's been holding onto. After all this, Alfred runs into a fan of his music, and he decides — rather than push him away or react with annoyance — to take a picture with his fan.
    • Both Darius and the viewers are led to believe this is the case with Teddy, wherein either he or Benny were created personalities of an insane person. Ultimately, it's subverted, though it's debatable which would've creepier.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT try to skip out on paying Paper Boi if you owe him money. When a club manager refuses to pay him for an appearance, Alfred corners the guy in his office and beats the hell out of him. Similarly, when denied his winnings from a high-stakes poker game he takes a chainsaw to the loser's favorite tree.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Van lampshades her Pun in "Tarrare" when she inflicts pain on a man with pain.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "The Big Payback." Marshall has made his peace with the reparations tax, found a good serving job at an upscale restaurant, and is working extra hard to pay his debt off early. However, for society at large it's implied a new age of slavery has begun, and seeing that all of Marshall's fellow servers are people of color, it seems nothing has improved for anyone but African-Americans, meaning eventually resentment and rebellion will start up again.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Crossed with Bigger on the Inside. In "The Old Man And The Tree", Fernando's mansion is somehow located inside a modest London block house. While the house could just serve as a hidden entrance, it doesn't explain how the mansion has multiple levels, many rooms including a full service restaurant, a swimming pool, and a wide central courtyard open to the outside, yet still isn't visible from the street.
  • Blackface:
    • In "Sinterklaas Is Coming To Town," Paper Boi cancels a concert in Amsterdam when he sees the entire audience with their faces painted black. They're all dressed as Zwarte Piet, a Christmas character with chimney soot on his face, but the explanation doesn't piss him off less.
    • Inverted by a creepy African-American student named Tobias at Van's school. He comes to class wearing white face-paint, just trying to get a reaction. It definitely works.
  • Bottle Episode: Among other things, "Teddy Perkins" fits this bill as well. Aside from the opening, the episode is mainly set in one mansion, with the only characters being Darius, Teddy, and Benny, with Alfred having a speaking role.
  • Breather Episode: "Champagne Papi" is a much, much, much needed one after "Teddy Perkins."
  • Brick Joke: In "The Club," Darius notes how cool it is that Marcus Miles has an invisible car. Alfred, sensibly, calls BS. One can guess what happens at the end of the episode.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Deconstructed with Earn. While he's is best at finding shortcuts and scraping by, there isn't much he's good at because he hasn't bothered to learn anything. The Season 2 episode "FUBU" shows how Al has always bailed Earn out when he's gotten into trouble and that Earn always relies on others to do the same.
  • Butt-Monkey: 9 times out of 10, Earn just cannot catch a break.
  • But Not Too Black: What it means to be black and black enough is discussed continuously throughout the show. It's also the focus of "Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga", where a light-skinned black guy has to try and pass as black having apparently spent his whole life passing for white.
  • Call-Back: The investment that Darius sets up in the Season 1 episode "The Streisand Effect" is paid back the following season in "Sportin' Waves."
  • Calvin Ball: One of the traditional Oktoberfest games Earn and Van play in "Helen" is something called "Hootz-Kutz", which involves people sitting in a circle and passing ping-pong balls around and tossing them at a cup in the circle. No one ever explains to Earn when or why you're supposed to pass or shoot and he amazes the crowd by just leaning forward and dropping the balls in the cup (apparently something no one has ever thought of).
  • Caustic Critic: Paper Boi's music gets a harsh negative review from a caustic YouTuber, prompting him to unwisely fire back at him.
  • Celebrity Paradox: The rich white man mentioned under Foreign Culture Fetish has an album collection that includes Childish Gambino’s own album Awaken, My Love!
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The second season of the show, while maintaining semblances of a wackier tone, is notably darker and more intense than the first. It only gets worse (or better) with the inclusion of not just one, but two exceptionally dark Mind Screw episodes separated by a Breather Episode, then immediately followed up by a similarly intense Origins Episode about the pro- and deuteragonist.
  • Chain of Deals: Darius convinces Earn to pawn his phone for a samurai sword instead of cash, insisting he can get a better return for it. He then leads him on a wild goose chase bartering the sword for other things, finally delivering a dog to a farm. That's when Darius reveals the recipient is a dog breeder and they won't get their return until the puppies are born in several months.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The first is during the episode "North of the Border", wherein there are many, many antique flintlocks in the white frat house hanging upon the wall. Later, as the crew are driving back, Tracy's aiming a (unusable) gun he got as a souvenir at Earn is what pushes Earn over the edge to challenge him to a fight.
    • The second is the gold pistol that Earn's uncle gives to him in the second season premiere. Earn still has it before he and Alfred are preparing to board their plane with Clark County.
    • Invoked in "Tarrare,” in which Van, pretending to be a twisted Film/Amélie-type, carries around a baguette with her all day, only to use it to visciously beat a man in the middle of a museum (in front of his partner, no less.) It’s even lampshaded by Xosha and Shanice.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In "The Big Payback", a (white) man named Earnest appears in the lobby, looking disheveled due to having lost his luggage, and gives a speech to the protagonist about racial privilege before shooting himself. The same actor (Tobias Segal) had appeared in "Three Slaps" to give a similarly themed speech during the initial dream sequence, though he wasn't explicitly named. And then, in the final scene of the season, a piece of luggage is delivered to (Donald Glover's) Earnest with his name on it, even though he isn't missing any bags. Inside is a picture of a depressed-looking (other) Earnest with his wife and two kids. As is typical for this show, what exactly this means isn't expanded on; were the events of the "anthology" episodes really happening while the guys were in Europe, or is this other Earnest another manifestation of our Earnest's inner struggles?
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Darius, who can't seem to go a full scene without asking strange non-sequiturs or delving into a philosophy discussion. He names his gun "Daddy," believes in a conspiracy between the state of Florida and the sinister being called Florida Man, and tells Earn that he switches cell phones often to "keep them from tracking me." Even when his misadventure with Teddy Perkins ends with him witnessing a murder/suicide, Darius is mostly concerned about losing out on obtaining a piano with colored keys.
    • Also, in the third season, Van. In "The Old Man and the Tree", her behavior, which includes randomly pushing party guests into the pool, doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. She then vanishes and we next hear about her in "Tarrare", where she's apparently been living a bizarre life of dealing drugs, fetish work for Alexander Skarsgard, and even cannibalism, in Paris. She snaps out of it when Candice invokes her daughter.
  • Cool Car: NBA star Marcus Miles has an invisible car. Paper Boi is skeptical, as it's shown with Marcus showing off pictures & selfies standing around with nothing. At the end of the episode, there is a shootout at the club, and Marcus drives off, running several people over with the only thing you can see being him driving. This also averts Visible Invisibility.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Happens three (or technically four) times with Earn in Season 2.
    • Earn decides to challenge Michael Vick, ex-NFL player and codifier of the running quarterback style of play, to a footrace. We don't see the race, but it goes predictably bad for him.
      Van: "It's Michael Vick."
    • In "Helen," Earn and Vanessa enjoy a game of ping-pong while at Oktoberfest upon which Earn's (potential refusal of) participation in the festivities rides. Van beats him mercilessly. Now forced to participate in the festival, Earn expresses his intense apathy at something Van cares about, which leads to a second curb stomp ping pong battle where the stakes are the pair's relationship.
    • After the craziness of "North Of The Border," Earn challenges Tracy to a fight in a blind rage. Tracy, being an ex-con and having a good 6 inches on him, kicks the crap out of him.
  • Daddy Issues: Oh, Teddy Perkins has 'em. He's planning a whole museum to ambitious fathers, in tribute to his own father who abused him when his piano wasn't good enough.
  • Day in the Limelight:
    • "Value" is focused solely on Van, with Earn and Paper Boi making small appearances.
    • "Barbershop," which is entirely about Paper Boi, with no appearances from any other lead.
    • "Teddy Perkins" is focused on Darius, with Earn and Alfred having minor appearances.
    • "Champagne Papi" is another Van-focused episode, with Darius appearing near the end of the episode.
    • "Woods" is another Paper Boi-focused episode, with Darius having a minor appearance in the beginning and Earn appearing off-screen in a phone call to Paper Boi.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Al and Earn are shocked in the Netherlands when they encounter people in blackface as part of the real-life Zwarte Piet folklore.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the pilot is the most grounded, the series has been, with each passing episode, increasingly unusual.
  • The Dog Bites Back: You might notice how many tropes on this page are about Teddy Perkins. None mention his brother, Benny Hope. That's because Teddy has kept Benny in their mansion's basement while likely subjecting him to physical and psychological torture. The second Benny gets a chance he blows Teddy away with a shotgun before turning it on himself.
  • Dream Intro: "The Woods," though it's a bit hard to spot. In it, Alfred's mom is speaking to a sleeping Al in the background. However, earlier in the series it was already established that she died.
    • "Three Slaps" starts with two men night-fishing on a Georgia lake and discussing a Black town beneath them that was flooded by the government, and are then attacked by the ghosts of the drowned townsfolk; it turns out to be a dream Loquarious is having in class.
  • Dream Episode: It's heavily implied that "Three Slaps" is All Just a Dream of Earl, as the episode ends with him waking up and commenting that he had a weird dream. There are more "anthology"-style episodes later in the season, but they lack the "dream" reveal at the end.
  • Driven to Suicide: Benny Hope blows his own head off with a shotgun right in front of Darius. Considering the horrors he's probably experienced, it was likely a relief.
    • Devin commits suicide offscreen after going through an entire day of being mocked for his supposedly inauthentic FUBU clothing. His tormenters and classmates were unaware he was going through a difficult family situation, with his parents divorcing...not like it would have mattered.
    • (Dream) Earnest shoots himself by a swimming pool after being hit by reparations lawsuits. A nearby hotel employee comments that "there's plenty more where that came from".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Actually inverted. Season 1 is much more grounded in a lot of ways, with episodes that are very realistic and have no magical elements at all. Episodes like 'Value', where Van goes to dinner with an old friend, seem more off-kilter than the wacky hijinks they get up to later in Season 2.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: When Earn and Van visits one of her old school friends in a Juneteenth-themed party, they meet the woman's husband, a rich white man who loves and praises African-American culture. Even all of the couple's friends are prominent and rich black people.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The long-awaited third season begins with "Three Slaps," a story about a young black boy caught in a sinister foster home. It's apparently unrelated to the main narrative, and is implied to be a dream Earn is having in Europe.
  • Freudian Trio: Darius is the superego (grounded, passive, more than a little odd), Alfred is the id (but more from necessity in his role as a increasingly famous rapper), and Earn mediates between them as the ego.
  • Genre Roulette: Although every episode is still comedic, they switch from dramedy to Magic Realism to outright satire ("B.A.N."), sometimes within a single episode.
  • Handcuffed Briefcase: Darius takes one to a drug deal... and forgets to bring the key to the handcuffs. The drug dealers decide they're going to get their money anyway... by opening the briefcase and putting the money in another bag. That was easy.
  • Hide Your Children: In Season 3, Van and Earn's daughter, Lottie, is apparently staying with Van's parents.
  • High-Class Cannibal: "Terrare" reveals that Van is involved in a particularly extreme version of French Cuisine Is Haughty, running hands backwards and forwards for an extremely fancy private chef who works for Alexander Skarsgård.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Antoine Smalls, a Black teenager who identified himself as a white man named Harrison Booth and wants people to accept his white trans-racial identity, does not accept transgender people and same-sex marriage.
  • Informed Ability: The central storyline revolves around Alfred/Paper Boi's career as a rapper, but, since Bryan Tyree Henry (probably) isn't actually a proficient rapper, he doesn't do anything resembling rap on screen. In fact, numerous episodes revolve around Paper Boi being about to perform, then something goes wrong resulting in the performance/recording session not happening. The one song we do hear has vocals by Stephen Glover, Donald Glover's brother and a writer on the show.
    • Paper Boi actually does step on stage in "Cancer Attack", but the camera cuts away to Earn before he starts singing.
  • Innocently Insensitive: MK offhandedly tells Darius that a lot of Black men hit on her while she lived in Los Angeles. He doesn't take offense from it. Unfortunately for her, everybody else at the party does.
  • Intimidating White Presence: In general, much of their scary intimidating white people presences are of the "well-meaning liberal" type, such as when Van's friend is shown to be married to a white man who fetishizes Black people, and when a gang of white people turn on an (also white) woman at a party in an angry mob after she tells Darius than a lot of Black men are attracted to her (which doesn't bother him at all). However, the two clearest examples of them all are the wives from "Three Slaps", who are white women with eight adopted black children that they abuse, starve, and work like slaves before trying to kill them in a car accident (and are assisted by an also white, well-meaning, liberal school system), and Teddy Perkins, who is in eerie whiteface who holds Darius at gunpoint, nearly kills him, and abused his brother. Also invoked by a student in Van's class who paints his face white and defies Van.
    Loquareeous's mom: If you don't start using your common sense and acting right, these white people, they gonna kill you. Kill. You.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Trini 2 De Bone" lacks the subtle horror and dreamlike atmosphere of the previous "anthology" episodes, being a bittersweet look at an upper-class white family dealing with a raucous funeral for their nanny from Trinidad.
  • Literal Metaphor: "Put your foot in it" is a black Southern expression that means "do something well," usually cooking. When Darius says it, however, he means it literally, and proceeds to put his actual foot in his pasta while making it.
  • Magical Negro: Atlanta is an odd show for this trope to appear. Indeed, Ahmed White (the stranger on the bus) turns out to be some sort of subversion, parody, or both.
  • Magic Realism: Given how Atlanta is sold as "Twin Peaks with rappers," this is fitting. While the invisible car is a very blatant example, we get other examples of strangeness (black Justin Bieber.) A driving point of the show is how surreal Earn's life in Atlanta can be. The most benign example is how many times he's mistaken for other men by well-intentioned white people.
  • Meaningful Name: Earnest "Earn" Marks. A mark is a form of currency, and Earn is doing his best to ensure he and Alfred get rich.
  • Mercy Kill: In "Sinterklaas is Coming to Town", Van and Earn stumble into someone getting seemingly euthanized, and the person may or may not be Tupac Shakur.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the episode "Streets on Lock," everyone (expect for Earn) has a good laugh at an insane perp in the holding station for drinking toilet water out of a cup. However, it gets dark very abruptly when he spits water at a cop and gets beaten and restrained as a result.
  • Menacing Museum: Teddy Perkins wishes to turn his creepy old house into a museum, complete with gift shop. He has an eerie room dedicated to "great fathers", including a model of his own abusive father (unless you subscribe to the theory that "Teddy" is the father), whose face is blank.
  • Never Trust a Title: Atlanta is an accurate title for the first two seasons, but the third season is (almost) entirely set in Europe, with Van, Earn, Paperboi, and Darius all on tour.
  • New Season, New Name: The show's second outing gets the subtitle "robbin' season".
  • Nice to the Waiter: Earn quickly befriends the janitor, Prince, at a radio station when he wants to gain access without his friend who works there realizing.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Teddy Perkins seems to be an analogue for Michael Jackson, being an idiosyncratic former musician with serious Daddy Issues. The framed photograph Darius looks at of his brother Benny — or possibly "Teddy" himself — meeting Chuck Berry is an altered version of Jackson and Berry together at a Grammys party in 1978.
  • Noodle Incident: While Uncle Willie chastises Earn for his fear of being cut off from Alfred, Willie mentions how some of his family members were in a similar situation in the music business. No other specific details are brought up apart from how it ultimately left the relationship of those two in shambles.
    Willie: Now they don't even talk no more, 'cuz you find out family is business.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe example. After Paper Boi's arrest in the first episode "Big Bang," he gets a large following of fans who consider him a real gangster. Also appears to be deconstructed somewhat in the following episode "Streets on Lock," since Paper Boi seems to grow increasingly uncomfortable when part of the recognition of his music is also tied to his arrest.
    • Another example in Season 2. When a white suburban mom makes a video denouncing Paper Boi for explicit lyrics, drug references, and praising Colin Kaepernick, his single goes Gold.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • In the first episode, Earn seeks out an old white friend that he wants a favor from and has to force a grin as his "friend" unabashedly uses the n-word as he tells a story. After they separate, Earn asks the black janitor who works at the building if he normally speaks like that, and the janitor says that he never does, especially not around him. Later, Earn pushes his friend into repeating the same story, this time with Alfred and Darius with him, and stares stone-faced as his friend awkwardly self-censors himself.
    • Alfred explicitly asks Zan "Are you even Black?" when Zan casually uses the word. Zan says that yes, he is.
  • Oh, Crap!: In Season 2, Van and Earn go to a German festival where, she warns him, people sometimes show up in blackface. When they arrive, a woman goes up to Earn, gushing about how great he looks. She then goes to rub his face... and realizes he isn't wearing makeup. There is an uncomfortable silence before she quietly apologizes and walks away.
  • One-Song Bard: The only song we hear a substantial amount of is Alfred's initial hit, "Paper Boi". Other song titles are referenced, or instrumentals may be played, but there haven't been any other full songs by Paper Boi.
  • Only in Florida: Darius speaks of "Florida Man" as if he's an actual, otherworldly being of weirdness.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Earn becomes extremely concerned when Van joins them in Europe and begins acting against her usual self, including stealing a small statue from Fernando's mansion and pushing people into a pool as a prank.
  • Police Brutality: In the Season 1 finale, Earn, Alfred and Darius go to their Uber driver's house to get Earn's jacket back, only to find that said Uber driver is wanted by the police. The police then shoot him to death when he runs out of his house (wearing Earn's jacket).
  • Race Lift:
    • Justin Bieber, a white pop star in real life, is black in the Atlanta universe. No clue if he’s still Canadian, though.
    • Drake is apparently Mexican in the Atlanta universe. And in contrast to Bieber's depiction, the show uses Drake's real-life likeness.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Earn is being mocked by Uncle Willie for being scared of Al cutting him off and leaving him without any support, Earn fires back with what is implied to be years' worth of frustration with Willie.
    Earn: What I'm scared of is being you. You know, someone everybody knew was smart, but ended up being a know-it-all fuck-up jay that just let shit happen to him.
  • Recurring Camera Shot: Both "Trini 2 De Bone" and "Tarrare" end on a closeup of a (mysterious and of unknown origin) family photo.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The first episode of Season 3 is very clearly based off of the case of the Hart Family, as it depicts two white women neglecting and abusing their adopted children of color while putting on a veneer of progressive happiness to the rest of the world. However, unlike the tragic and disturbing story it's based on, the children are able to escape at the end of the episode.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Inverted. Earn is friends with a DJ at a radio station and wants him to play Paper Boi's song, but the friend tries to claim that all decisions go through the station manager and he charges $500 to listen to a song. Realizing that his friend is just going to keep the money for himself—and maybe won't even pass the song along at all—Earn befriends the janitor at the radio station and gets him to let him into the building through the back door. Once inside, Earn just slides the CD under the station manager's office door and it winds up on the radio later that night.
  • Sell-Out: Clark County is implied to be this, doing Yoohoo! commercials and singing about drinking and smoking all the while being sober, which earns him mainstream appeal; compared to Paper Boi, who has a lesser mainstream appeal due to him not conforming to the same standards as Clark. At one point, Darius and Earn both agree that he is an industry plantnote  during a conversation in the episode "North of the Border."
    Darius: You know that Clark County dude?
    Earn: Yeah?
    Darius: [He's an] industry plant.
    Earn: Yes! I've been saying that!
    Darius: I mean, it's obvious.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The janitor that Earn befriends in the first episode is named "Prince," and Earn has to ask if he is serious when first told.
    • Alfred is incapable of getting a finished haircut in "Barbershop," to which an onlooker describes his hair as "looking like a Super Saiyan's." A later episode has the younger versions of Al and Earn directly reference the anime, and discuss a particular character's notoriously unfortunate design, without mentioning the character by name.note 
    • According to director Hiro Murai, Darius' outfit from the "Teddy Perkins" episode was based on the clothes worn by James Caan in Misery.
    • In the episode "Sportin' Waves," we come into the middle of a conversation where Tracy is talking to Earn about a certain animated show:
      Tracy: I mean don't get me wrong, it's a funny show but... the way they dive into depression and especially after what he did to her daughter, like, can I even feel bad for this horse anymore?
    • In "Three Slaps," the foster mothers tell Loquarious to sing a song while forcing him to work in their garden. When he responds by delivering a slick rap, they demand something more folksy and start singing an example. Unfortunately, Loquarious doesn't hit them over the head with a shovel after.
    • "The Big Payback," a story about an American underclass rising up against the people above them, ends with the song "Les Fleurs" by Minnie Riperton.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: Played for laughs when a white girl covers Paper Boi's song by singing it on acoustic guitar. Al is appalled.
    Darius: It's an acoustic rap cover. White girls love that shit.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Ahmed White advertisement in "B.A.N." implies that Ahmed's clients are either this or just Bad "Bad Acting".
  • Surreal Horror:
    • Pretty much the entirety of "Teddy Perkins," which is essentially just the story of Darius being held captive by a psychotic Michael Jackson Expy.
    • "Helen": Van briefly encounters a mythical German monster in an alleyway... or maybe it was just a costume...
  • Time Skip: The third season is subtly revealed to be set a couple years after the previous finale. Paper Boi is on a different European tour as the headliner, rather than opening for Clark County. Earn has improved as a manager but appears to be approaching burnout from the workload, and Van has moved on and started a new relationship.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: In-universe. In "Streets On Lock," a young man being processed into jail with Earn doesn't really get why his ex-girlfriend is being sent to the men's section with them. When the other inmates point out she's genetically male, he does NOT take it well.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In the finale of "robbin’ season", when mere INCHES away from an airport security checkpoint, Earn discovers he never took his uncle's gold-plated pistol out of his backpack.
    • For the more scrutinizing viewer, what comes after when we see Clark County on the plane with Earn and his crew counts as well, considering the only place Earn could've stashed the gun was in Clark's bag. Moments later, we discover that Clark sold out his own man by putting the gun in his bag.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Season 3 begins on a different European tour than the one Alfred joined Clark County on; Clark himself has vanished without explanation (along with Tracy, who missed the previous tour but still hasn't shown up again).
    • Despite apparently joining Paper Boi's entourage, Socks vanishes from the story after "Cancer Attack," and we never learn if he ever admitted he stole Alfred's cellphone.
  • Where da White Women At?: Spoofed at the end of "Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga." Months after his white girlfriend breaks up with him for college, Aaron works in an electronics store and is playing up his Black persona. When he runs into his ex, he smoothly says he finds himself more attracted to her now, and she giggles in response.
  • White Like Me: Played to both hilarious and bizarrely unsettling effect with Tobias Walner, who disrupts his class by coming into school wearing "whiteface" (as in, ghostly clown-white foundation) and a secretive little smile that almost dares his teachers to try to make sense of it.
  • White Savior: Deconstructed with Amber and Gayle, the lesbian foster parents in "Three Slaps." Outwardly they're two loving hippies who adopt underprivileged black children out of kindess; a picture of their newest adoptee hugging a white cop paints them as wonderful parents. The harsh truth is they keep the kids living in squalor, change their names, and use them as cheap farming labor while giving them unhealthy food. It's heavily implied that they murder a social worker who comes for a welfare check.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "FUBU" flashes back to when Earn and Al were in middle/high school in The '90s.
  • World of Weirdness: A common structure is that the characters will do something that should be relatively normal (go to a party, go pick up a piano) and things will go From Bad to Worse.
 
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