Donald Glover wrote 'Atlanta' Season 3 before COVID-19

Earn (Donald Glover, left) and Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) travel Europe in "Atlanta" Season 3. Photo courtesy of FX
1 of 5 | Earn (Donald Glover, left) and Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) travel Europe in "Atlanta" Season 3. Photo courtesy of FX

LOS ANGELES, March 24 (UPI) -- Atlanta creator and star Donald Glover said he hopes audiences realize that he and his writing staff created Season 3, premiering Thursday on FX, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We wrote all of this in 2019," Glover said in a recent Television Critics Association Zoom panel. "A lot of this stuff is going to seem like a parody of stuff that happened."


The season premiere deals with a new character, a Black boy (Christopher Farrar) who ends up with a White family when Child Protective Services removes him from his mother.

Atlanta stars Brian Tyree Henry as Atlanta rapper Paper Boi and Glover as his manager, Earn. The show takes a comic look at the city and music industry, as well as Earn's hesitance to commit to his girlfriend, Van (Zazie Beetz).


The second episode of Season 3 returns to the main cast. Earn and Paper Boi travel to Amsterdam to perform at a holiday party, which they discover involves blackface.

Glover said subsequent Season 3 episodes would parallel real-life events that occurred in 2020 in 2021, though he would not spoil the episodes with specifics. Glover said it was easy to anticipate where society was headed when writing the season.

"The world is extremely predictable," Glover said . "We really just knew how a lot of this stuff was going to pan out."

Glover created the series in 2016. Earn and Paper Boi have traveled outside the title city in previous seasons, but Season 3 focuses on removing them from their element, Glover said.

Their travels also take them to London, and Atlanta filmed on location in London and Amsterdam, he said.

"The world is out there, and it's not Atlanta," Glover said. "There are different rules, different places and people go through different things."

Season 2 aired in 2018. Glover planned to take a break to work on other projects before Season 3, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the show even further.

During that time, Henry said he worried he would forget his character. But he found Paper Boi's life paralleled his own between seasons.


"He's exactly where I'm at because I think we all grew," Henry said. "I know we all grew, and our lives changed in such a way."

Glover said the episodes are meant to convey a sense of unease. From the boy in an unfamiliar home to Earn and Paper Boi out of place in Dutch culture, Glover said, the episodes can be surreal.

"We've always been into dream logic because dreams always feel like something bad can happen, even when nothing bad happens," Glover said.

In their travels, Paper Boi and Earn witness a living funeral that creeps them out. It becomes even more shocking by the end of the scene.

"You're not supposed to see that, like, normally," Glover said. "Let's do something that's kind of intense."

Beetz said filming in London as the city reopened from the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrated the ripple effects of America's reckoning with racial issues.

While the pandemic delayed production, 2020 saw waves of protests against the police killing of George Floyd, and for the Black Lives Matter movement. Beetz said when they started filming in London, she witnessed Black English people reckoning with racial issues.


"I feel like, in 2020, these conversations started bubbling up," Beetz said. "I think race is talked about less in Europe."

Glover said dreams also inspire his ideas for Atlanta episodes. Other writers on the show include his brother Stephen, Stefani Robinson, Jamal Olori, Ibra Ake and Taofik Kolade.

"I just search for moments," Glover said. "The human brain's going to make a story for everything. Your dreams are really just blips of meaningless, crazy stuff, but you wake up and have a story."

Glover said he begins with special moments, then builds the story to support those moments. Likewise, when Glover creates music as the artist Childish Gambino, he said he also begins with moments.

"At the end of the day, it's moments," Glover said. "You might be like, 'Oh, that melody is really nice' or 'Oh, that was really funny when you did that.' You're just looking for a moment to touch and feel like 'I'm connected to something bigger.'"

Atlanta has also filmed its fourth and final season, which FX expects to air later this year. Glover said Season 4 evolved as he, the cast and crew reflected on their lives during the pandemic.

"I think we all changed," Glover said. "The show's very punk in a lot of ways, and I think we became more not punk because we cared about stuff."


Atlanta airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX and new episodes stream Fridays on Hulu.

Latest Headlines