Atlanta Season 3 Episode 6 Tackles Gentrification And Selling Out In 'White Fashion'

Unfortunately, this week on "Atlanta" we are not provided with any sort of resolution or follow-up concerning the events of the previous episode, "Cancer Attack." There's no more Socks, and no more mention of Al's missing phone. It's a weird narrative choice, and I'm normally all for weird, but I imagine this will leave more than a few fans of the series feeling justifiably frustrated. Instead, episode 6 of "Atlanta" season 3, entitled "White Fashion," leaps a few weeks into the future and focuses on the topics of performative activism and selling out. In true "Atlanta" fashion, the episode is filled with referential humor and heavily influenced by real-world events. 

Let's just hop into the recap, organized by character since everyone is on their own little side quests again.

Al/Paper Boi

Al accepts a proposal from a fashion brand that has been involved in an unspecified racist scandal in order to help rehabilitate the brand's image. Even though it's obvious to Earn that the brand's PR attempt at using prominent Black celebrities and "activists" is nothing short of superficial, Al counters that it will be good for his image because he has issues getting high fashion designers to collaborate with him the way they do with others — which reminded me of how actress and comedian Leslie Jones faced discrimination when no designers wanted to dress her for the premiere of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot until designer Christian Siriano stepped up to the plate after she vented her frustrations on Twitter.

"Atlanta" is always wearing its inspiration on its sleeve, so even if it wasn't a reference to this specific incident, it's definitely inspired by the real-life, racist double standards and lack of opportunity afforded to Black celebrities based on desirability politics. I can talk about this topic for days, but you're here for a recap, so let's stick to that.

Since Al is determined to take the deal, Earn suggests he use the opportunity to do some good for the Black community, and after meeting with some Black (and probably not actually Black) "activists" who are very obvious and amusing caricatures of real-life people, Al successfully pitches the "reinvest in your hood" campaign, which was designed to drum up support for Black-owned businesses. Unsurprisingly, the campaign is white-washed and bastardized beyond recognition, leading to a confrontation between an outraged Al and one of the corporate-savvy activists who tells him the harsh truth about the lack of sincerity when it comes to brands and companies that choose to adopt social justice aesthetics and lingo. That's showbiz, baby.


Darius is befriended by the company's head of hospitality, who is a white lady named Karen — sorry, but that's a red flag. The two eat at an authentic Nigerian restaurant, and Karen is fascinated by the place and the food in the same way a small child is fascinated by the animals at a petting zoo. It's stomach-churning, and anyone even vaguely familiar with the concept of gentrification can figure out exactly where things are headed as far as her intentions. This seemingly nice, "fascinated" white woman who knows nothing of Nigerian food or culture decides to buy out the business without even bothering to consult the owner and begins selling some weird, gross version of the food she ate with Darius. Darius, disgusted and disheartened, throws away the free "Naija bowl" she enthusiastically offers him and walks away from it all.

Has anyone else noticed that seemingly "well-intentioned" white people who turn out to be kind of awful are drawn to Darius? Without veering off-topic into my personal life, it's relatable. I mentioned in a previous "Atlanta" recap that his survival instincts kind of suck, and he should probably be more proactive in recognizing sidestepping these individuals. It seems that he's going through a wake-up call of sorts in this regard, symbolized by his refusal to eat the bowl and his resolve to discard it like the trash that it is — or maybe I'm looking a little too much into the little details. Time, and subsequent episodes, will tell.

The Van storyline (or lack thereof)

We do get to see Van this episode, but we're also six episodes in — more than halfway done with the season — and we still don't have much in the way of an actual storyline concerning her character. We know she's acting mysteriously on a personal journey of sorts, but it would be nice to get a little more than what we've been given. Ahead of season 3's premiere, show creator Donald Glover stated, "I think season three is more about Van than Earn," in an interview with "Vibe." Despite this claim, it really doesn't seem to be the case. Her behavior and absence have been the subject of numerous fan theories and intrigue, but we have very little in the way of answers or screen time when it comes to Atlanta's only female lead.

In "White Fashion" she makes a brief return, only to be accused of stealing a wig by some random white woman. After Earn comes to her aid, calling Van his fiance and leveraging the reluctance of the hotel to be caught up in a racist scandal, the two make out and presumably hook up in a complimentary hotel room. In the morning, she's gone yet again. For some reason, I suspect a possible clue about her storyline may lie in the film Darius was watching at the Nigerian restaurant.


Earn continues to show that he's a competent manager, right down to his ability to manipulate situations and lie unflinchingly. This behavior seems to have extended beyond just his job as Al's manager and into his personal life, as seen by how he handles Van being accused of theft at the hotel. We also see that he clearly still has some feelings for Van, who, despite initiating the kiss, seems pretty indifferent to Earn. At the end of the episode, when he wakes up alone in his fancy, free hotel room, we hear the phone ring. The episode ends before we find out who's calling.

Some additional thoughts

Obviously, some of the overarching themes of this episode are gentrification, whitewashing, and cultural appropriation. All of these tie into the themes presented in the season premiere, so there's not a complete lack of cohesion between the episodes so far. That said, I still wish there was at least some sort of small nod to the events of episode 5. The complete lack of resolution is pretty frustrating, and I guess I'm growing a little impatient with the season as a whole. It's not that "White Fashion" is a bad episode — far from it — it's just that in comparison to the surrealist elements and emotional depth of the previous episode, it just feels a bit lackluster.

Despite my mixed feelings on Glover and my issue with the way the show handles Black women, I still want to see where the story goes. It's starting to feel a bit pretentious. It's not that I don't understand; it's that I'm not 100% on board. Spare me the "you just don't get it" takes, please. We have 4 episodes left in the season, and I'm expecting a big reveal of some sort that will make everything worth it, but I'm not so sure we'll get that. I guess I see the episodes of parts of a quilt, threaded together by theme, and my hope is that we'll see the finished quilt in its entirety by the end of the season. Also, for what it's worth, I don't think Van stole the wig.