Fresh off of the heels of the hit NBC series Community, Atlanta-bred actor and musician Donald Glover created, executive produced and now stars in the aptly-titled dramedy, Atlanta. The FX show, premiering on September 6, follows two cousins, including one whose dreams of making it big in hip-hop are fast becoming a reality. Glover’s character Earn wants to get in on his cousin’s action and rising star, all while making a name for himself and providing for his young family. Not to be confused or compared with Empire or Netflix’s latest show The Get Down (or Glover’s own career as a rapper and music producer under the moniker Childish Gambino), Atlanta has a much different vibe – one that’s not exactly easy to pinpoint. Just peep the promos. But one thing is certain: the 10-episode season looks more than promising and we can’t wait to watch. Here’s everything you need to know about Atlanta.
Donald Glover plays Earnest “Earn” Marks. Earn returns home to Atlanta after having dropped out of college, only to discover that his estranged cousin is doing the very thing he wants to do. Earn tries to get it on the action.
At the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, Donald Glover stated the thesis of Atlanta: “The thesis with this show was to show people what it’s like to be black, and you can’t write that down. You have to feel it,” Glover said. “Amazing things can happen, but it can be taken away in a moment.”
Yes, Donald Glover plays an aspiring rapper on Atlanta, but don’t expect his character to mirror his own career as Childish Gambino. According to Glover, that would have been weird. Very weird. “I wouldn’t have enjoyed that. It’s possible to do that but then … that makes it harder for me to do music. It just clouds a lot of things. There’s a level of magic realism and suspended disbelief that you need for all genres, and it’s important for me as an artist to keep those all in tact.”
New York native, actress and model Zazie Beetz plays Van, Glover’s girlfriend. Actually, their relationship is a bit more on the “it’s complicated” side. But one thing is certain: Van is rocking the hell out of that head wrap in the newly-released Atlanta promos.
Brian Tyree Henry
Book of Mormon star Brian Tyree Henry plays Alfred “Paperboy” Miles, a hot rapper and cousin of Earn who does his best to navigate music, growing fame and family.
Lakeith Lee Stanfield
Lakeith, whom you’ll remember as Snoop Dogg in Straight Outta Compton, plays Darius, Earn’s sidekick and right-hand man.
As you might expect, a show named after Atlanta prominently features the city as more than a mere backdrop. The ATL is practically its own character. Here’s what Brian Tyree Henry had to say about the city at the TCA: “Black people run Atlanta; it is our city. It’s the one little hub that I feel wants other people to come in and bring what they want and also expand what we already have. The language of Atlanta is more of how we talk and how we dress. It’s the embodiment of the people.”
There’s an abstract kind of vibe to the Atlanta series. According to Glover, that’s a good thing because the show is about life, which has more questions than answers. But he’s not worried because Atlanta is grounded. “If you have something that is grounded on some level, you can go anywhere, and people want to go with you.”
In lieu of a traditional writer’s room, Glover invited Atlanta’s writers to his home where they ate and perused the Internet while writing scripts. Sounds like a sweet gig.
Atlanta executive producer Hiro Murai shared that the show doesn’t stray away from serious topics, and deals a lot with gray areas. Glover added, “I always want people to be scared, because that’s kind of how it feels to be black.”
In addition to creating, executive producing and starring in Atlanta, Donald Glover will also direct two episodes of the show. We’re wondering if he has any plans to release any show-related music as well.