Donald Glover is back on TV, but he’s a long way from (his former) home.
The former Community star created, executive produces and stars in FX’s new half-hour comedy Atlanta. The series centers on Earnest “Earn” Marks (Glover), a loner who returns to his hometown of Atlanta to try to make ends meet before being drawn into the rap scene when his cousin suddenly skyrockets to stardom.
“I just always wanted to make Twin Peaks with rappers,” Glover joked to reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.
Atlanta marks Glover’s return to TV following Community, on which he starred for five seasons. During the time in-between, he headlined a semi-autobiographical comedy for NBC in 2012 that was never picked up and also launched a successful rap career under the name Childish Gambino.
Glover said he was courted for other projects in the interim, but “I knew they weren’t me,” he said. “People wanted to make me everything. I think they still do.”
Instead, he waited to find a way to combine his two artistic passions in Atlanta. “It’s kind of the perfect time to make something that I would want to see,” said Glover. He pointed specifically to the need in the current era to interact with viewers across multiple platforms like cellphones and computers in addition to TV. “There’s more screens that have to be filled,” he continued. It’s “the perfect time to combine everything that media kind of is right now.”
The result is a series Glover says is deeply personal to him. Instead of a writer’s room, the scribes behind Atlanta convene at Glover’s house, where they eat together and peruse the Internet together. “I’ve been keeping them very close and tight and secret because I just want to make sure they’re perfect,” he said when asked about the series’ scripts.
“Television shows are like novels. You just got to invest in them,” added Glover. “The tone of this, it’s going to take people time to figure out what’s going on, which I think is a good thing.”
Atlanta is set to premiere this summer on FX.