Much of the FX series “Atlanta” has been about exposing the performativity of white “woke” advocacy — but Donald Glover’s experimental show has not been immune to criticisms that it’s only for white people.
During the ongoing summer Television Critics’ Association press tour, creator/star Glover defended the series against those very criticisms, saying that he does this “shit for the people.”
“I do a lot of this shit for the people,” Glover said. “So if you’re sitting there being like, ‘Oh, this is misogynoir,’ I’m wondering why you think that and why you think I feel that way when I’m nothing without my people. It’s just kind of whack to me. Some of that to me is just Internet people trying to get hot, which is also something we learned in the system we’re in.”
He continued, “I feel like a lot of the Black criticism bothers me only because it sounds like [it’s from] Black people who don’t really know what we’ve been through. I don’t think they give a lot of credit to what we’ve gone through.”
Glover said that “the conversation isn’t as elevated as it should be.” “Atlanta” has long been praised as a kind of arthouse pillar of the wave of the great Black TV shows that came about in the mid-2010s, but is a more alienating experience than a show like “black-ish” (which also tackles serious racial issues in the package of a family sitcom) or a wincingly relatable mirror of millennial life like “Insecure.”
“There are better ways to talk about it rather than like with shit I’ve heard in fourth grade about who we are because I feel this is such a Black show,” he said. “To say it’s only for white people, it’s like we’re cutting ourselves down, which is kind of whack to me.’
Glover’s brother, “Atlanta” writer/producer Stephen, said he dislikes “when people say the show isn’t for Black people because I think it very much is for Black people.”
He added, “But I will also say being in Atlanta and walking around, or even like in L.A., I run into Black people all the time who tell me this is their favorite show and how they appreciate everything we do. They also say we’re making them want to do cooler and weirder stuff … So for me, that’s the real kind of conversations that are happening out there. Internet stuff isn’t always real; it’s not how people really feel. I kind of get my feelings from the streets, to sum that up.”
The fourth and final season, which returns the series to its namesake city after a Europe-hopping Season 3, debuts September 15.