Jesse Taylor walks it like he talks it.
Nadine: “We’re all nothing. It’s a simulation. It’s all fake.”
The world of Atlanta may in fact be a computer simulation being controlled by a future generation, as Darius explains while discussing Bostrom’s simulation argument. It’s a world where Justin Bieber is black, invisible cars exist, Migos sell drugs to Paper Boi and Darius, alligators live with humans and Michael Vick spends evenings in strip club parking lots challenging people to foot races for money. Sounds like a Sim game to me.
In “Champagne Papi,” there’s also a fake world within the fake world where people create phony lives on social media to make them feel better about their boring real lives. Rather than live their actual lives, people post fake things on Instagram to make their real lives appear to be better. That human act does not just exist in the world of Atlanta.
The tie-in to the “Robbin’ Season” theme is social media’s theft of our true identities. The set-up for the show is a girl’s night out for Van on New Year’s Eve, following her break-up with Earn. Van’s friend Candice, who has created a fake “business” relationship with a famous DJ to access a world unavailable to her, gets them the hook-up to a party at Drake’s mansion. As the girl’s scan social media prior to leaving, they already spot people posting IG pictures with Drake from the party.
Van is fairly negative about the night until she sees an IG video of a girl playing with Earn’s hair as they both laugh and flirt. Van immediately says she needs a photo with Drake (because her Instagram is “weak as fuck” featuring photos of her daughter Lottie, and one food shot of chicken).
Like social media, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake in the episode – from the crying girl on the shuttle who is “just so happy” to potentially meet Drake; to the older bus driver who says the girls in his shuttle are pretty and he’s going to take them home with him, before clarifying that’s he’s just kidding. Or is he? The crying girl ends up being another imposter, forging a signature on her invite that the bouncer spots before exiting her out of the party kicking and screaming.
As the ladies enter Drake’s home, Tami compares the patrons to another famous group of fake people: “Look at these Instagram Stepford Wife-looking bitches.”
Once Candice connects with DJ, it is obvious their relationship is totally not about business, but about flirting and acting sexy to impress him. Or maybe that is a business relationship to Candice.
As Van starts on her mission to take a photo with Drake, she connects with a guy who seems friendly and helpful at first, but becomes increasingly creepy. Once she realizes he is not as he first appeared, a worried Van ditches him. She runs into an older Hispanic gentleman speaking Spanish who may or may not be Drake’s grandfather.
Darius enters the episode when innocent Nadine, who can’t handle the edible gummi she ate, runs into him at the pool.
Nadine: “Is this real?”
Darius claims it’s not real and goes on to explain Bostrom’s theory on living in a simulated world. As they sit on square stones that appear to be floating in the water, Nadine asks if the girl relaxing in the hot tub is real. Darius says she is real fake.
Candice fakes on her friends and ditches them to attend T-Pain’s party with DJ. Van discovers the Drake selfie room, where it’s actually just several cardboard cut-outs of Champagne Papi in different outfits. For $20 a photo, you will get “$10,000 followers guaranteed.” Van says the photos are fake, but the selfie suppliers say they are “real to everyone else.” When Van decides not to take a photo, they accuse her of not being real.
As Van walks out to the pool, Nadine sees her as Drake. To Nadine, Van is no more fake as Drake as the cardboard cut-outs of Drake on IG.
Van shows a momentary sign of hope about Earn when she sees Darius, and is curious to find out if Earn might be with him. Darius says he’s not, but he does know Drake’s chef, Guillermo, from the glorious days of pick-up soccer. That explains, most likely, that the person Van met was not actually Drake’s Spanish-speaking grandfather. Unconvinced, Van exclaims “Drake’s Mexican” while walking home from the party. A Spanish version of “Hotline Bling” closes the episode.
What did Darius do?
• Wore a Mariachi jacket to Drake’s house party (maybe he got it from his pick-up soccer game with Guillermo)
• Just when he is ready to tell Nadine the mystery of how humans got here on Earth, is cut off by Van who tells him to shut up
• Doesn’t like apples, but eats them because his every movement is being controlled by a future generation
• Believes that, yes, perhaps he can help people stop thinking
Paper Boi gets lost in the “Woods.” Will Teddy Perkins make another appearance, this time as a ghost (if he wasn’t actually a ghost the first time around)? We’ll find out.