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FX Greenlights 'Atlanta' Season Four… Before Season Three
August 9, 2019  | By Eric Gould  | 6 comments

If you're a fan of Donald Glover's Atlanta (and if you're not, what are you waiting for?), you'll be pleased to know that this week at the biannual Television Critics Association press tour, FX announced they are renewing the series for a fourth season.

Normally, a series getting renewed isn't a headline except in this case Atlanta's third season hasn't been filmed yet. And it won't be until Spring 2020, along with the newly acquired fourth. (Both seasons are scheduled for eight episodes each.)

So, while Atlanta has gathered acclaim for its audacious ride over two seasons, it will also follow the lead of another FX show, Fargo, and not return on an annual basis. (Glover, who also is a musician and performs as Childish Gambino, is in high demand as are other cast members who agreed to other projects.)

As the TV universe expands, this may turn out to be the preferred buzzworthy model for popular shows anyway, opting for sure quality and freshness and not risking losing their audience with lackluster seasons that simply meet a schedule.

While a two-season renewal is unusual for a series, even a popular series, it's maybe not surprising for the Emmy-winning Glover's brilliant dramedy mash-up of music culture, economic strife, and life in the city where crime is usually just a knock on the door away.

Atlanta follows Glover's "Earn" Marks, a bright young man who is also an Ivy-league drop-out, and has returned to his neighborhood where he gloms onto cousin Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles (Brian Tyree Henry, top right with Glover, left) to manage his career as an emerging rapper. 

Earn has a girlfriend, Van (the brilliant Zazie Beetz), with whom he has a child, but they aren't a couple, even though he's often sleeping over, due more to the fact that he's out of money and can't afford a place of his own. Their friendship and regard for each other is obvious. It's their ability to function day-to-day as a family that is dubious.

Glover and Henry have gathered wide acclaim as the series leads, but rivaling them and rounding out the cast is Lakeith Stanfield as Darius, (on left with Glover and Henry) who perhaps functions as a reinvented Revered Jim character from James L. Brooks' classic Taxi, issuing random, visionary observations – even though it may all just be a result of his chronic weed habit.

Stellar cast aside, the real news about FX's commitment to Atlanta this week may be their ability to cultivate and continue the confessional auteur vehicle with Glover co-writing the show (along with brother Stephen) as well as starring in and directing a few episodes.

That is very well within Louis CK's and Pamela Adlon's legacies at FX and in the mode of others, including Lena Dunham in Girls (HBO) and more recently, TCA Program of the Year winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag (Amazon Prime Video).

While that may not make Glover a trailblazer in that genre, it doesn't diminish him to a second-hand mimic. 

Far from it, Glover's Atlanta has continually surprised and astonished as it has made surrealistic and comic leaps well beyond the usual TV contrivances.

Dunham and CK both took their characters on "lost episodes" – stand-alone departures outside the long arc of the series' storylines that couldn't be ruled out as dream sequences or character fantasies, even though they were never overtly presented to the audience as such.

Glover matched those in Season 2, and perhaps upped the ante, with all main characters escaping out of the plot into wild, preposterous flights that bordered on performance art pieces, most notably in episode six ("Teddy Perkins") with Darius renting a van to buy a multi-colored piano listed on Craig's List, and ending up being trapped in a mansion with the seller, an effete Michael Jackson-styled type, who might have homicidal tendencies.

Likewise, in episode eight's "Woods," Alfred narrowly escapes being robbed at gunpoint and literally gets lost overnight in them as he encounters characters perhaps real or specter-like. 

"Teddy Perkins" and "Woods" are departures from an otherwise captivating story of Earn and Alfred's fraught journey of trying to make it in the music business with everything stacked against them.

While Atlanta is delayed, the upside is that there is now plenty of time for viewers to binge and catch up – and give you a glimpse of the bold, rambunctious future of television.

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