In Season 4, Episode 2 of “Atlanta,” titled “The Homeliest Little Horse,” we get to sit in on some of Earn’s therapy sessions, including one where he finally reveals that he left Princeton because he was expelled after a simple misunderstanding, leading him to go back to Atlanta, where we meet him in Season 1. Now that he’s a success, the university has invited him to give a talk, but he’s conflicted about whether to accept because of what happened while he was a student there.
As Earn recounts, he quickly became close friends with another resident advisor, a girl named Sasha, while attending university. One day, after buying a suit for a job interview, his crush invited him to a party, so Sasha held the suit in her dorm room for him. But when he tried contacting her to collect it, she was uncommunicative. So, since he had a master key, he used it to go into her room and take the suit. However, this infuriated Sasha, who elevated it to a complaint with the school’s dean, leading to Earn’s expulsion.
Earn’s therapist (Sullivan Jones) quickly intuits that Sasha was not Black, a fact that Earn confirms. Additionally, Earn mentions that he was one of only a few Black students at Princeton. “What do you think the perception was?” asks the therapist, to which Earn responds, “That this big, Black gorilla came into this white girl’s room and just destroyed s***.” Following that harrowing experience, Earn admits that his rise to success has been fueled by spite. Now a considerably wealthy man, he uses his resources to flex on the people who he feels have wronged him, a toxic trait that the rest of the episode explores between Earn’s therapy sessions.