For Atlanta co-executive producer and screenwriter Stephen Glover, history keeps repeating itself. “You think you’re going to get out of high school and you’re like, I’m never going to have to do this again. And you go to work and you’re like, ‘Oh, this is kind of high school,'” Glover says. VF by phone from outside Atlanta. For Glover, this is an apt analogy for Alfred’s European sojourn (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) Van (Zazie Beetz) and Earn, played by his older brother Donald Gloverembark on the third season of Atlantawhich aired its finale last night.
“There’s this idea of, ‘Oh, I’m going to go somewhere bigger and better, and everything will be different,'” Glover says. It’s kind of the same thing.
That sentiment permeates the Emmy-winning show’s third season, as the team confronts the haunting nature of whiteness, this time with a European twist. “I think this season we knew we wanted to do something different, change it up a bit. And this one definitely had a theme,” says Glover. “We called it ‘the curse of whiteness.’ This is the flavor we entered the season with.
With a season of Atlanta on the left, Glover replied VF‘s questions about White Earnest, famous guest stars, and where the series goes from here.
vanity lounge: It felt as if the narrative action of season three was secondary to an exploration of the insidiousness of whiteness.
When we were in the [writers’] room, we talked about a lot of different things that were going on, a lot of different things that had happened to us – the state we were in. And we kept coming across these ideas that revolved around whiteness, and the idea of whiteness. We just started to break down those feelings that we had. I like the word insidious, or even cursed because on some level it’s… it’s a curse. So it’s not like you have to actively do anything, you know? It happens. It’s like a law of nature.
One of the funniest – I mean, I guess it’s not funny, but it’s funny to us, anyway – is the idea that black people want revenge on white people [laughs]which was created because of all the terrible things white people have done to black people throughout history.
But now there’s this belief that if the tables are ever turned around, it’s going to be worse for us because of what we’ve done. White supremacists, they’re scared. Their biggest fear is a day when it could happen. barack obama, it’s like, “Oh my God.” You know, it’s the joke of, like, he’ll make all white people slaves [laughs]— this kind of irrational fear that exists.
And because of that, they must be worse. Black people don’t care – It’s not like they’re thinking, “Obama is going to punish white people for us.” But it creates this momentum which is just funny enough. This idea that you can never give up your superiority.
The standalone episodes, in particular, seem to deal directly with the Curse of Whiteness.
The standalone episodes really took those big ideas and put them into their own stories. So their irrational fear of revenge? For me, there is part of that in the repairs episode. The standalone episodes are really where we tackled those big questions. I think the ones with the main characters are also themed and have some of those elements. But with the standalone episodes, that’s really where we took those great ideas and tried to distill them into the best story possible at the time. I think we did a good job. They were really fun to do.
I wrote “Three Slaps”, the first episode [of season three]. For me, this was probably my favorite episode to write in the whole series. It felt like I was able to blend a lot of the stuff we did from previous seasons, plus these really big ideas we had, and the fun and the challenge of trying to distill them into something mouth-watering. This episode is like a fairy tale, too. It took the idea to teach a lesson, like, Hansel and Gretel is this scary story.
Yeah, those Brothers Grimm fairy tales were really dark and messed up.
Definitively [laughs]. I want to say, Hansel and Gretelit’s about children being baked in a pie, eaten and baked. And it’s really about, “Hey, don’t get lost in the woods,” which is a very reasonable request from a parent. Like, ‘Hey, if I send you to the woods, someone might try to give you candy and kidnap you’, but here’s the fun version of that [laughs].
Speaking of this first episode, I was really fascinated by the character of White Earnest (Tobias Siegel), who ends the season. He was such an interesting and tragic character.