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Writer, rapper, comedian, actor, Donald Glover has conquered all these roles. Whether it be as Childish Gambino, or as a part of his former sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, Glover is known for his clever writing, words, and ideas. His next venture, the upcoming FX series Atlanta, which he created, co-wrote, executive produces, and stars in, is shaping up to be a mix of all his abilities, bringing together the absurd with the melodic.
In a recent interview on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Glover spoke about how the show was based on his knowledge and experiences growing up in Atlanta, but was not an autobiographical show. “I think a lot of people think it is, but it really isn’t”, Glover told Fallon, “I just wanted to tell weird stories there. Really, the thesis was ‘oh, I want to make Twin Peaks, but for Rappers.” Glover talked about wanting to highlight the range of people that come from Atlanta, “everybody in Atlanta has a philosophy.”
In an interview with New York Magazine, Glover also spoke about his intent behind Atlanta and the difficulties he faced regarding the higher ups from FX. Glover said “I wanted to show white people, you don’t know everything about black culture. I know it’s very easy to feel that way. Like, I get it… You follow Hollywood Vines, and you have your one black friend and you think they teach you think they teach you everything”. Atlanta dives into the world people don’t see, following Glover’s character, Earn, as he tries to help manage his cousin Paper Boi’s (Brian Tyree Henry) emerging rap career. Paper Boi also happens to sell drugs, which is something Glover is familiar with though not a participant. Atlanta touches on the life of Earn as he attempts to juggle the life he was born into and the life he is trying to make for himself in a career that is dominated by white people.
Glover also mentioned that though FX was supportive, they didn’t always understand it. When they heard that Paper Boi was a drug dealer, they suggested he live in a house that looked as run down and “traplike” as possible. “We were like, ‘No’, he’s a drug dealer, he makes enough money to live in a regular apartment.” Glover also said “there were some things so subtle and black that people had no idea what we were talking about”, like an actor who delivered his lines with a particular drawl familiar to those from Atlanta. “After three takes, Hiro took me aside and was like, ‘I don’t know what he’s saying.’ To Hiro [director], this ni**a is speaking patois.” Glover said, “that character is an artifact. Culturally, we’re becoming very homogenized. That dude isn’t going to be around in seven years. You aren’t going to be able to find him. White people are moving into Bankhead,” a historically black neighborhood in Atlanta. “It’s important that dude gets represented in this show. “I needed people to understand I see Atlanta as a beautiful metaphor for black people”.
Check out the trailer for Atlanta below.