‘Atlanta’ Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, ‘Champagne Papi’

Champagne Papi = Drake

There’s no better show on air right now than Atlanta to poke fun at the utterly asinine practice of social media stuntin’, and the “Champagne Papi” episode put the practice on full blast.

Zazie Beetz thegrio.com
Zazie Beetz | FX

There’s no better show on air right now than Atlanta to poke fun at the utterly asinine practice of social media stuntin’, and the “Champagne Papi” episode put the practice on full blast.

If you’re 30 or under, you should know that “champagnepapi” is Drake’s Instagram handle, so it should come as no surprise that The Beige One would somehow factor into this episode. Indeed, the show kicks off with Van (Zazie Beetz) and her crew of homies –  Nadine, Tami and Candice – pre-gaming before hitting up Drake’s mansion for a party they were invited to; they’re made to believe they’ll actually meet him since attendees have been posting social media photos next to him all night.

I’m glad to see Van again, since she and Earn’s (Donald Glover) denouement in the “Helen” episode made her future on the show seem uncertain. She sour-grills Earn’s Instagram story in which some woman is playing with his hair, leading us to believe their story is not yet told.

The funniest part of the opening sequence is a conversation about contraceptives, in which Nadine (Gail Bean, whom you also saw in Insecure) is excoriated by everyone else for using condoms, which is apparently an outmoded birth control compared to IUDs (I didn’t get that memo).

Atlanta FX

Atlanta FX

The four women, all minimally dressed, shiver outside in the cold before getting in the transport van – a nod to all the women who suffer in the name of fashion on any given weekend evening. In the van, Van encounters a strange woman sobbing, only because she’s really happy that she gets to meet Drake; when it’s revealed she didn’t receive an invite, she’s dragged off by security kicking and screaming. You know, because Millennial black women really love that Canuck.

Tami (Danielle Deadwyler) has a lot to say about the bevy of women at the mansion – using choice phrases like “Instagram Stepford wife-looking bitches” and “Thot-a-thon” –  without acknowledging that they’re all in the same damn house for the same damn reason: to meet Drizzy himself; Van, in particular, is pushing to make it happen sooner than later. But the ladies all ingest weed gummies shortly after entering, which leads to hijinks on deck.

The high hits Nadine the worst: She calls the police and says she’s dying at Drake’s house before Van shuts her down. Later, she somehow winds up in a conversation near the pool with Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) as he explains Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument, which is the perfect conversation topic for someone who’s completely zooted.

Darius’ appearance is so abrupt that we aren’t sure if he’s really there at first. And because it’s Atlanta, he seems totally unscathed from the events of last week’s effed-up “Teddy Perkins” episode.  

After discovering that Candace (Adriyan Rae) dipped from the party with her man, Van winds up on a weird, quasi-intoxicated stroll through the empty part of Drake’s mansion that started with a dude whose game turns trashbag quickly, continues with her putting on some of (presumably) Drake’s clothing and concludes with her winding up in a dark, tucked-away room with an older Latino man.

The man has an apparently malfunctioning television and only speaks to Van in Spanish; she assumes that he tells her that he’s Drake’s grandfather and gets upbeat at the idea of meeting a relative. Her excitement dips quickly when she glances to a calendar on the wall and sees a huge chunk of time blocked off for “Euro Tour;” Drake is not even in town.

She walks back to the party in a huff, only to see women charging the attendees to take a photo with a cardboard cutout of Drake; she learns that the pictures she’s seen of women with “Drake” on the ‘Gram are all fugazi. One of the women asks Van the episode’s best question: “You thought were gonna have a meaningful conversation with Drake?”

Even I was hoping that the real Champagne Papi was going to make good on a favor owed to Childish Gambino or something and show up in the episode. No dice.

The episode closes with Van, her two remaining friends and Darius doing the walk of shame up the road, and Van yelling, “Drake’s Mexican!” before the credits cut to a Spanish version of “Hotling Bling” It’s the episode’s second-funniest moment next to a scene involving Tami (Danielle Deadwyler).

When Tami first walks into the house, she makes a snide comment about the fictional Black male celebrity hugged up with a blonde white lady. Later on, perhaps emboldened by weed gummy bears, she sits across from the white woman, calls her out of her name and goads her into a discussion.

When the white lady gives Tami a perfectly sweet answer about how she was with him when he was still in community theater and how they’re just good people who love each other, Tami dismantles the woman and her privilege in a jealous yet hilarious tirade.

“Champagne Papi” is a welcome return to lighter comedy following the borderline traumatizing “Teddy Perkins” episode. I thought there would be more of a linear storyline this season, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Not that I’m complaining.

Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.