There’s another side to Donald Glover.
On “Community,” he played the enthusiastic and positive Troy Barnes. The show gave Glover the opportunity to do broad comedy.
His new FX series, “Atlanta,” has some lighter moments, but at its heart is a deep story of two cousins working their way through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families. Glover not only stars in the series, he is the executive producer. Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz also star.
Glover’s focus when the show was coming together wasn’t so much about being funny or serious as it was about getting across what it’s like to struggle with money, music and social issues.
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“The thesis with the show was kind of to show people how it felt to be black, and you can’t really write that down. You kind of have to feel it. So the tonal aspect was really important to me,” Glover says.
He creates that tone by the way the show is put together. The first episode has the structure of a traditional comedy, but after that, the story is told in an abstract manner while remaining grounded.
Glover expects some people won’t get what he’s doing and turn away. Viewers who can relate to these friends who live by their own rules will connect with the series. That connection might take a little time because Glover says he didn’t find the right tone for the show until the fifth episode.
“Atlanta” is miles from what he was doing in “Community.”
“What was important to me was that this show was personal and had a specific take, because that’s all you can really ask for from a show nowadays. Having a specific point of view on something,” Glover says. “Everything else you kind of do easily and cheaply, I think. We definitely talked about how people are going to feel about it just to make sure it didn’t get in the way of us telling a story that people enjoy, but that was about it.”
The series is set in the Georgia capital, home to a large group of rappers Glover can call on to give the show that grounded tone he wants.
When Glover is not acting or producing shows, he’s a rapper who performs under the stage name of Childish Gambino. Despite that portion of his life, Glover didn’t cast himself to play a rapper in “Atlanta.”
“That would be weird,” he says. “Like, that would be so weird.”
- 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, FX