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SXSW 2022: ‘Atlanta’ returns to television with bigger comedy, extreme violence

SXSW 2022: ‘Atlanta’ returns to television with bigger comedy, extreme violence

SXSW 2022: ‘Atlanta’ returns to television with bigger comedy, extreme violence
March 25
08:00 2022

AUSTIN, Texas — Emmy Award Winner Donald Glover, also known as “Childish Gambino,” took the stage at Paramount Theatre on Saturday and closed out South by Southwest 2022 with the season three premiere of his comedy-drama “Atlanta” following a three-year hiatus.

Despite how long it’s been since audiences have seen their favorite characters, the first episode of season three titled “Three Slaps ” has very little to do with any of the recurring figures in the show.

Instead, episode one is grounded in viral media. It begins with a young boy, Loquareeous, being punished for dancing on a desk at school after learning his class will be taking a trip to see “Black Panther” in the theater. The plotline is a parody of a video that got 10 million views on Facebook of a classroom’s reaction to learning the same thing.

Glover, “Atlanta”’s creator, main character and writer admits that a lot of the material they write into the show stems from social media the writers share via group chat.

“Forty percent of the writer’s room is us just laughing […] or stuff that caught our eye during the week,” Glover said. “We have a group text, and we’ll just send each other stuff and comment on things. When we get in [the writer’s room] we’ll talk about it.”

Loquareeous is then dragged to the principal’s office where his mother is called. After hearing of him misbehaving in school again, Loquareeous’ mother drives to the school and punishes him by forcing him to dance for her in the hallway. Reminiscent of the viral video “Little Boy Had To Do Fortnite Dances As Punishment,” his mother yells out orders like “whip,” “hit the quan” and “do the worm,” as Loquareeous’ guidance counselor looks on in horror.

“If you’re on Twitter, you know, Black Twitter, you see the conversation that’s happening,” Glover said. “It’s like this other culture. And sometimes we [the writers] drift into main culture, but it’s this other thing that’s happening where it’s like, oh yeah, this is blowing up right now.”

The episode takes a darker turn when Loquareeous’ guidance counselor calls child protective services after witnessing Loquareeous’ punishment, landing him in a situation shockingly similar to that of Devonte Hart, who was murdered by adoptive mothers Sarah and Jennifer Hart in March of 2018 along with his five unrelated siblings.

“We always think like fear and comedy are very closely related,” Glover said. “They’re always touching each other. […] That episode is based on something that actually happened, and we were like, ‘What would happen if that didn’t happen? We thought it was a more enjoyable life story.'”

After the premiere ended, Glover and company surprised the audience by immediately screening the following episode, “Sinterklaas is Coming to Town.” The episode picks up in Europe, where Earnest “Earn” Marks (Glover) has to bust Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) out of jail while dodging Dutch children with painted black faces in honor of Sinterklaas, a figurine similar to that of Santa Clause. While Marks and Miles attempt to navigate the European leg of the Paper Boi tour, Vanessa “Van” Keefer (Zazie Beetz) is on a mission to find herself.

Without revealing too much per the request of Glover, season three of “Atlanta” is horrifyingly hilarious. It’s described by Glover as their “maximalist” or “concept” season.

“It’s everything that we do times ten,” director Hiro Murai said. “We’re in Europe and I think the comedy’s larger and the violence is more extreme.”

Season four of “Atlanta,” premiering in the fall of 2022, will serve as the conclusion to the show.

The first two episodes of season three will premiere on March 24 on FX and will be available on Hulu the following day.

Featured Image: Zazie Beetz and Donald Glover answer questions during the Atlanta Q&A at SXSW on March 19, 2022. Photo by Madeleine Moore

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Madeleine Moore

Madeleine Moore

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