Donald Glover seems mad at us, but we (mostly) embrace 'Atlanta' anyway : Pop Culture Happy Hour When the FX series Atlanta arrived six years ago, it was unlike anything else on TV. It depicted its namesake city as a surreal landscape rich with offbeat characters. And it turned its creator and star Donald Glover from a niche comedic actor and rapper into an A-list Hollywood auteur. Atlanta recently concluded its fourth and final season, and it remained dark and weird until the very end. But did it go out on top?

Donald Glover seems mad at us, but we (mostly) embrace 'Atlanta' anyway

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AISHA HARRIS, HOST:

When the FX series "Atlanta" arrived six years ago, it was unlike anything else on TV. It depicted its namesake city as a surreal landscape rich with offbeat characters. And it turned his creator and star, Donald Glover, from a niche comedic actor and rapper into an A-list Hollywood auteur. "Atlanta" recently concluded its fourth and final season, and it remained dark and weird until the very end. But did it go out on top? I'm Aisha Harris, and today we're talking about "Atlanta" and its legacy on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HARRIS: Joining us today is Ronald Young Jr. He's the host of the film and television review podcast "Leaving The Theater." Welcome back, Ronald.

RONALD YOUNG JR: Hi, Aisha.

HARRIS: Also with us is culture writer and critic Shamira Ibrahim. Welcome back to you, too, Shamira.

SHAMIRA IBRAHIM: Thanks for having me back, Aisha.

HARRIS: And making her POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR debut - woo-hoo (ph) - is NPR Washington Desk reporter Alana Wise. Hey, Alana. Welcome.

ALANA WISE, BYLINE: Hey. I'm so happy to be here. I'm so excited.

HARRIS: Yes. I feel like this is going to be a fun, perhaps spicy conversation, but I'm looking forward to it (laughter). So "Atlanta" follows Earn, a Princeton dropout who at first struggled to make ends meet. He's played by Donald Glover. Earn eventually becomes manager to his cousin and up-and-coming rapper Al, aka Paper Boi, who's played by Brian Tyree Henry. Now, the show mostly follows their misadventures as Paper Boi's star rises, and their circle also includes Darius, Paper Boi's spacy friend, played by Lakeith Stanfield, and Van, Earn's on-again, off-again girlfriend and mother of his young daughter, played by Zazie Beetz.

After a four-year hiatus, the series returned this year for its final two seasons. Season 3 was a notable departure from its Atlanta home base. In some episodes, the four leads got into some shenanigans while in Europe for Paper Boi's tour. And in other episodes, there were sort of "Twilight Zone"-y (ph) morality tales involving one-off characters and none of the main cast. Season 4 returned the gang to Atlanta and the show's roots as they continue to navigate existential crises. "Atlanta" was created by Donald Glover, and the majority of the episodes were directed by his frequent collaborator Hiro Murai. And since the finale is now available on Hulu, everything's fair game, so come back to us later if you're not caught up and you care at all about spoilers.

So, Ronald, let's start with you. What is your relationship to "Atlanta," and, you know, how have you been rocking with this show for the last - wow - six years? I can't believe it's been that long.

YOUNG: Yeah, it's been the better part of a decade, which is weird to say about a show that only gave us four seasons. You know, in the beginning, I think we were in a different place in society with this show. You know, I remember we were still not necessarily streaming it as much. We were watching it on television. I remember talking about it with friends. I remember quoting lines. The price is on the can, though - like, things like that. Like, I remember quoting lines with people and actually relating to it with folks in a different way. And I remember we all waited with anticipation for the second season, felt good, felt like it was a great sequel to the first one.

And then a lot of stuff happened between the second and third season that kind of changed our viewing habits and who we were as people. And I think all of that put in a jar and shaken up - it soured me a little bit on Season 3. Like, the "Twilight Zone"-y episodes and all that weren't necessarily something that I felt like were for Ronald, even though I would watch a show like that. I would watch a complete show where it's all "Twilight Zone" one-off Hiro Murai and Donald Glover making up stuff. I would watch that. But it felt like - I really wanted "Atlanta." I wanted the first two seasons. I wanted existential crises. I wanted characters in Atlanta doing stuff. And in Season 4, they got back to that. So I felt like it landed well. But unfortunately, I don't know if people were watching anymore because I think a lot of people fell off the train somewhere between Seasons 2 and 4. So I'm curious what everyone else thinks, but I'm also curious to see if people were still actually watching because I don't feel like they were anymore.

HARRIS: Yeah. I mean, four years is, like - things - so many things happen in four years. And then when you add the pandemic and how that actually felt like an extra, like, six to eight years, it's like...

YOUNG: Yeah.

HARRIS: I totally understand that feeling that things shifted, and some of those things were out of their control and out of everyone's control. Alana, how about you? What is your relationship to the show?

WISE: So it's funny, and it's really interesting. I think Ronald hits on a lot of good points. I was actually just talking to one of my friends last night because I was like, oh, I have to watch the latest episode. Are you caught up? And he was like, yeah, man. I stopped watching after the Tupac death episode. Like, it just got to be a lot.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

WISE: And I get it. Like, full disclosure, I'm from Atlanta. Like, when the show premiered, I was very excited because I was like, oh, this is the closest approximation to actual life in Atlanta that I had ever seen. Like, even some of the more surreal elements - like, getting into a race with a celebrity in the parking lot of a strip club is just, like, something that is extremely relatable if you, like, grew up there. It's just a very bizarre type of scene. And I really loved the first season. Like, I was so gung-ho about it - really enjoyed the second season.

The third season - it got weird because what's interesting is that it's still incredibly funny and fresh and interesting, but it's also really upsetting in a lot of ways. Like, the subjects they tackle and I think even the way that they tackle them, like the treatment of Black people in America and abroad, the way Black culture is co-opted, revisiting sort of real situations like the Hart family murders, those poor adopted Black children who were killed by their white adoptive parents - then you get something so absurd as having Chet Hanks in the third season doing his little bootleg, off-brand Trini accent.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ATLANTA")

JUSTIN HAGAN: (As Miles) So you grow up in Trinidad or Jamaica?

CHET HANKS: (As Curtis) Oh, it's Trinidad and Tobago. And no. I'm from Tribeca.

WISE: It's so much. I feel like the argument is that, for one, well, it's satire. It's commentary. But I feel like sometimes it feels like the statement he's trying to make sort of revisits his sort of old persona in rap and some of the more problematic aspects of it that I had hoped with time he would maybe grow out of. But I don't know that he has.

HARRIS: Yeah. It's interesting that you mentioned, like, the Chet Hanks, Chet Haze, whatever he's calling himself these days. And the Liam Neesons...

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: ...And I can't say Liam Neeson without saying Liam Neesons - "Key & Peele." That was one thing that I noticed, especially in Season 3, where it seems like "Atlanta" really went hard on getting these controversial figures to play versions of themselves and comment on whatever they were - so, like, the Liam Neeson thing - we had learned that Liam Neeson had made some racist remarks at one point many years ago. And so to throw him in here and to throw people like Kevin Samuels, who I had never even really heard of until this year, but...

WISE: Oh, to be lucky you.

HARRIS: I know.

YOUNG: Yeah. You've lived a great life, Aisha.

HARRIS: Basically, I don't know. He was, like, a bootleg Steve Harvey where he was giving women advice on how to date men.

WISE: It was like a modern Black version of "The Pickup Artist."

YOUNG: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: Sure.

WISE: It was all negging women, like, if you wear a size bigger than a size eight or if you - it was all very strange and very misogynistic.

HARRIS: Yeah. There's just a lot of poking going on with the show. And sometimes the poking feels earned, and other times it does not. But, Shamira, let's get to you. I know you have lots of conflicted...

IBRAHIM: Yeah.

HARRIS: ...Perhaps feelings. Is that a fair way to categorize it?

IBRAHIM: I think that's a fair way to put it.

HARRIS: OK.

IBRAHIM: I definitely enjoyed Season 1 and 2, especially Season 1. I definitely was one of those people who had followed Donald Glover throughout the arc of his career, where I was recommending "Atlanta" to people and basically giving the qualifier of, like, trust me, like, watch Season 1.

YOUNG: Yes. Yes.

IBRAHIM: I thought it was, like, really, like, artfully done. I'm not from the Atlanta area. I'm from New York. But I'd had a lot of friends who are either from Atlanta or had moved to Atlanta post-college. And so I had spent just such a fair amount of time in the area. And, like, it just felt so organic. I thought it was such an intentional choice of location for Donald Glover as someone, of course, who was from Stone Mountain, but also Atlanta as a choice of location as someplace that is viewed as, by default, like, a Black mecca, right? Like, Black cultural life is so thriving there, right? And you can use it to just kind of showcase so many nuances of Black working class, you know, Black elite, just Black quotidian existence. And you can have that slice of life - right? - examination and use that to really play against the absurdities in a way that I really thought played with the concepts of surrealism in a way that was both amusing, refreshing and actually insightful.

As you know, the show progressed, I think a lot of things started to happen, right? One is that a show like that became, like, a Black critical darling to what sometimes we jokingly call white famous, right?

YOUNG: Yes.

IBRAHIM: You know? And so it expanded kind of the lens under which "Atlanta" became appreciated, right? It was like now this kind of bubble under which, like, "Atlanta" was a great piece of altruistic exploration. And so that kind of expanded what became rewarded about it. And I remember distinctly about Season 2, one of the biggest things I was worried about it was the Teddy Perkins episode. And I think...

YOUNG: Yes. Yes.

IBRAHIM: ...That became, like, a really big inflection point because...

HARRIS: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: ...When you go from Season 3 and Season 4, now we get these, like, kind of isolated short films without really any big narrative arc tethering them to each other - right? - which is fine as, like, isolated episodes. But now we don't have any real connective tissue to both the actual milieu that, like, situates the show - right? - and the actual investment in character development and the already existing shortcomings that people had already started to notice the show in of itself.

And I think that's where, you know, in addition to, of course, the delays in production and, you know, Donald Glover himself becoming, like, a legitimate bonafide superstar who had all these other projects, kind of led to a little bit of disconnect and, like, the amount of investment and follow-up in the latter seasons. And I think that caused some frustrations and friction, which I think he actually started to explore in the last season. You can see him kind of projecting some of his personal tensions with the criticism he's receiving in the latter episodes of the series.

HARRIS: I love what you said about when you were first trying to get people to watch the show because I think it's impossible to not look at this show through the lens of Donald Glover and how he's changed and how he hasn't.

YOUNG: Yes.

HARRIS: I've had a very up-and-down relationship with him, in that I first came to know who he was thanks to "Community." I loved that show...

YOUNG: Yes.

HARRIS: ...Pretty much from the beginning, around 2009. And then I learned, oh, he's a rapper. So I checked out his album. And I bought the digital version of "Camp."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEARTBEAT")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Singing) Can't speak. I can't speak.

HARRIS: And I really liked it. I was in a different place in my life at that point. And I think I saw a lot of myself in the way that he saw himself. And Donald Glover has always seemed to have, in a way, this chip on his shoulder in terms of who he is as a artist, who he is as a Black artist. And I think that part of what made the first two seasons of "Atlanta" feel so, oh, I was not expecting this to come out of this person, was just how - first of all, it was kind of the first time that a lot of us had seen him interacting in a mostly Black environment on screen. And the other thing was that it just felt as though he kind of understood that these things are complicated and that Blackness is not this catch-all.

I think the fact that it is a show that is - yes, it's set in Atlanta, but it's not in the Atlanta that I think people who are not from Atlanta think of. It is not just super, quote-unquote, "urban" or "suburban." There's a lot of nature in this show. And the show really digs into, like, the tension that comes with being a Black person who lives in a semi-rural area. It seemed like such a 180 from who he was - the backpack rapper era of, like, I'm weird, and Black people don't like me because of that.

YOUNG: Yeah.

HARRIS: There is also his fixation on Asian women. If you go back and listen to his rap music, his rap songs...

YOUNG: Yikes.

HARRIS: ...It was very uncomfortable. And so, like, when the show was at its best, I think, for me, it was when he hadn't hit that apex yet. Like, obviously "Atlanta" was kind of a success from the beginning. You know, it won him a couple of Emmys. But I do think that once he got into "This Is America" era, things kind of shifted. And that was right around the end of Season 2 when that dropped.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THIS IS AMERICA")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Rapping) Girl, you got me dancing. Dance and shake the frame. This is America. Don't catch you slipping now.

HARRIS: And he became even more concerned about like, OK, some Black people love me now, but also I feel like this pawn, or I feel like the Negro who is going to be held up by white establishment. And I see him dealing with that and wrestling with that in Season 3 and Season 4. I'm just curious from you all, like, what was your impression of Donald Glover before "Atlanta"? And having seen the whole show now, has your perception of him changed?

YOUNG: You know, I think for me, the thing that stands out is the change in Donald Glover. And I think there's a couple key points. One, if we think about him being a backpack rapper before this, because everything you just said about Donald Glover is exactly how I was introduced to him. It was "Community" first, then "Because The Internet".

HARRIS: I love "Because The Internet" still. It's still good.

WISE: It stands up.

HARRIS: Yeah.

YOUNG: But then you go back to his comedy troupe with those guys and all that.

IBRAHIM: Oh, Derrick Comedy, yeah.

YOUNG: Yes, Derrick Comedy. Thank you. So he was doing Derrick Comedy. And I think, at one point, Donald Glover has been wrestling with his own place in the Black community for a long time. At some point, when the Black community was like, hey, we love you, he was like, nah.

(LAUGHTER)

YOUNG: And I feel like the nah is echoed out through Seasons 3 and 4 because there's a lot of irritating things that Donald Glover has said - in that interview he did with himself.

HARRIS: Oh, God.

YOUNG: And then Stephen Glover also does an interview that was pretty prominent, that I read around Season 3. When I listened to the things they were saying and watched the show, I'm like, I feel like they're kind of getting to a point now where they're just saying, nah, there's not going to be any point to this show. We're just going to make whatever we want to make. And we're just going to do standalone episodes. And some of it's not going to make sense, and we're never going to explain it 'cause we can do what we want now. And I felt that a lot in Season 3 and in Season 4. So even when I sat down for the finale of Season 4, I was prepared for it to end exactly the way it did - unresolved and slightly dissatisfying, but very much of the show that he has created. And I think that is very much who Donald Glover is. And I feel like his whole thing now is to be like, yeah, now I'm never going to give you anything that you want.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

YOUNG: And you see that played out in the show. And I feel like that same instance has played out in his life, which I'm not mad at because this is the ultimate time for us to separate art from the artist. I want to be clear. This is the only time that phrase has ever worked 'cause a lot of times, people use it to describe other artists who have done reprehensible things. No reprehensible things have done here. But I will say, personally, with Donald Glover, I'm like, I like the stuff you make, but I don't know how I feel about you, necessarily.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

WISE: Fair.

HARRIS: He's got a very (singing) na, na, na, na, na (ph) quality to him.

YOUNG: Yes. Yes. Agreed.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: See him, like, sticking out his tongue and, like...

WISE: It's funny. My introduction to him was actually Childish Gambino and the album "Camp". And then I was like, OK, who is this guy? And I started digging into him and watching "Community." I know he had, like, written some stuff for "30 Rock." And I, like, really liked him. Granted, it did, and still does, sort of burn my biscuits a little bit, this whole, like, too white for the Black kids, too Black for the white. It's like...

YOUNG: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

WISE: Cut it out, man, like - but at this point, he's, like, taken on a new thing where it's like, in his view - and this is admittedly unfair. I don't live in this man's head. I can only see what I feel like I'm seeing. But I feel like, in his mind, he has - A, he has sort of matured and evolved beyond his audience and is now sort of spoon feeding sort of these ideas and these concepts that he thinks, like, people - and, seemingly, specifically Black people - should have but, in my view, in a lot of ways, struggling to do that in a way that is, A, coherent, to your point, Ronald, about just, like, these standalone episodes. Like, nothing's episodic anymore. Like, live in my world for a minute. This is how it goes down in Donald's brain.

YOUNG: (Laughter) Yes.

WISE: To a certain extent, it works. Like, the content he's put out is good. Like, it's very watchable content. I hate to draw comparisons 'cause I feel like it's unfair to artists, but, like, there were so many sort of "Black Mirror," "Twilight Zone" elements within this show, even down to the episode - I think it was called "Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga," the Kevin Samuels one.

YOUNG: Yeah.

WISE: How it's, like, all in black and white, climaxes with this fantastical flame thrower fight.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ATLANTA")

TYRIQ WITHERS: (As Aaron) You know what? What if I burn you first? Oh, wait. Too late.

TIRENI OYENUSI: (As Felix) Was that a dark skin joke?

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

WISE: It's like he's circling the idea but somehow, at the last minute, he just veers off in a weird direction a lot of times. It's hard to reconcile how much I enjoy his art sometimes with how poorly he seems to be able to deliver a message.

HARRIS: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: I think that Donald Glover really has this seeming need to sit at tension - right? - with the consumers of his art in a way that seems, like, increasingly defiant. I personally do think that he has grown. I don't know how much he's grown, but I've seen his journey from Derrick Comedy to where he is now. But I also think that chip on his shoulder has, like, grown to be martyr sized. And it's been, like, very expressive in the way that he's even articulated certain, you know, episodes.

Like, I remember watching this season, the episode, "The Goof Who Sat By The Door". And I remember seeing, like, the actual description of the episode as I saw the screener come in. And I was like, is this going to be, like, a thinly-veiled allusion as to how he's felt about his career the entire time? And then I watched the episode and I was like, oh, it actually is, like, a thinly-veiled articulation of how he's felt about his career.

HARRIS: Yeah, it is (laughter).

IBRAHIM: Great, right? We can also just talk about how "A Goofy Movie" is, like, a Black Disney movie.

HARRIS: Yes (laughter).

IBRAHIM: But there's, like, some value and I have some empathy for that, right? I know that, as people who work in creative spaces, it can be really hard to exist on social media and just see people giving you criticisms and not want to address all of them. Like, a hundred people saying, hey, I don't like this thing is, like, actually not that deep.

HARRIS: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: But it really can feel like, oh, these people are just waiting to take me down, right? Listen, maybe every six months that one clip of you singing Tamia goes viral for no reason...

YOUNG: Yes.

IBRAHIM: ...Right? People are waiting to love you at every single juncture...

YOUNG: Yes.

IBRAHIM: ...Right? Speaking of his music career, before he pivoted into making R&B - right? - with a Swedish man, but...

(LAUGHTER)

IBRAHIM: You know? But he also had the mixtape "Royalty".

YOUNG: Yes.

HARRIS: Yes.

IBRAHIM: And I remember being surprised by it because I'm like, oh, he jampacked that with artists that were, like, legitimate artists in, like, the rap, quote-unquote, "street scene," especially on the West Coast. He had Ab-Soul, he had ScHoolboy Q, he had Nipsey Hussle. And, like, they legitimately collaborated with him. The way that he looks at how he's had to make these pivots and, like, what things are of and not of value to him are sometimes about how he feels like he's had to prove and overcompensate these things. And that's more than fine and understandable. But I think it also is - you're a public figure, and it's OK that people ask you questions, right? You don't get to be a person who's indignant that people ask you questions.

YOUNG: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: And I think he has a right to be prideful about his work...

WISE: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: ...But sometimes it just comes in this sense of, oh, Black people are waiting to take me down. It's like, no, actually, we're waiting to celebrate you...

YOUNG: Yes.

IBRAHIM: ...But you're the one who wants to make it an actual group of people at odds with you, you know?

HARRIS: Right.

IBRAHIM: As opposed to being embraced.

HARRIS: Yeah. And I think that clearly just comes out in the show in so many ways. Like, just looking at Season 3 and how it subverted expectations. And it made me think in a way of Jordan Peele and "Nope," but, like, in a more antagonistic way.

IBRAHIM: Yeah.

HARRIS: Whereas Jordan Peele was very clearly like, I know you - after two movies, you expect me to be like this. I'm going to veer completely in this opposite direction.

YOUNG: Yes.

HARRIS: But it didn't feel as though he was doing it because he despised us or because he was like...

YOUNG: Yes.

IBRAHIM: Right.

HARRIS: ...Or not even despised but, like, resented us, but because he wanted to challenge us. And in Season 3, I think the biggest issue for me was that he actually kind of went from focusing on these characters to I'm going to focus on white people now.

IBRAHIM: Right.

HARRIS: It felt kind of like Season 2 of "The Wire," but, like, I don't think I'm going to go back to this season and feel as though it actually made sense. I still feel that what I wanted was to go on this journey with these characters. And I think, as much as I liked a lot of Season 4 and how it returned to what we loved about the show for the most part, because of Season 3, all of the ending of Season 4 felt mostly unearned, especially when it came to Van and his relationship with Van who...

IBRAHIM: Yes. Oh, my God.

HARRIS: Season 3 Van - the way that ended, where she has a literal psychotic break...

IBRAHIM: Who is Season 3 Van? Like, she literally did not exist, first of all.

YOUNG: Yeah.

HARRIS: Yeah. That's been a tension from the beginning because she was always the only main female character on the show, and she was the girlfriend, she was the mother. The show sometimes directly addresses how she feels about that, but then it doesn't actually take that criticism or that critique and turn it into, well, actually, we're going to make you into more of a full-fledged character. Like, what was the Tyler Perry episode about? All of a sudden, she wants to be an actress now?

YOUNG: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: Right, right.

YOUNG: Who was this for? And you certainly didn't feel that watching "Nope" with Jordan Peele. You just feel like, here's a guy who just wanted to make a movie. Hey, I didn't want to have an allegory under this one, guys. Hope you enjoy it.

(LAUGHTER)

IBRAHIM: And the other thing is, like, one word they love to use consistently is the word elevate...

YOUNG: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: ...Which, like, is, like, so irksome. Like, whenever they get pushed or challenged or critiqued on something, they're like, we just feel like this conversation needs to be elevated. I'm like, elevated where? Like, where are we trying to go?

YOUNG: Where are we going?

WISE: It's very pretentious.

HARRIS: Well, it's - that's very much in the finale.

IBRAHIM: Yes.

HARRIS: Like, can we talk just very briefly about the finale because...

IBRAHIM: Yes.

HARRIS: ...Just to set it up, basically, Paper Boi, Earn and Van are all going to this restaurant - this restaurant of a friend of Van's or whatever, and it's a Black sushi chef. And across the street is a Popeye's. And they're all like, I want Popeye's. This food is not hitting it. And then the guy who started the restaurant goes on this long tangent about how when Black people do the same things other cultures do, it's considered low, whatever. And I was like, this is more of that direct commentary.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ATLANTA")

DAMIAN JASON WHITE: (As Chef Kenny) Every Japanese sushi restaurant where there's soy sauce does it that way. But if the brother from Alabama does it the same way, suddenly the fish is dirty.

BRIAN TYREE HENRY: (As Paper Boi) Yeah, but y'all serve...

WHITE: (As Chef Kenny) You know, in Japan...

HARRIS: Did that work for you?

IBRAHIM: No.

HARRIS: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

WISE: I just didn't care about it. Like, I was like, this is a very long speech. Thank God Darius came and saved them in their - this stolen Maserati.

YOUNG: And he punched him. Thank God.

WISE: Thank God there was some physical retribution here.

IBRAHIM: Right.

WISE: Also, he was like sushi is supposed to be served room temperature. They didn't say room temperature. They said his fish was warm. And now you're trying to serve them blowfish.

IBRAHIM: Right.

WISE: I watched "The Simpsons." I know what happens if you eat blowfish that's not cut properly. It's bad news.

(LAUGHTER)

IBRAHIM: Yeah. And also, like, you know, in Japan, it's not like they constantly eat sushi all day, every day either, like, you know what I mean? If we're really - if we're trying to be, like, all pretentious about it, like, it's not like that's that serious in the first place, like...

WISE: I feel like this is going out on a little bit of a tangent, but I also feel like the fact that Donald Glover and the characters made such a big deal about, like, this sushi restaurant, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We didn't see Earn, like, so excited when Darius, like, found a traditional jollof rice place in London.

IBRAHIM: Right.

WISE: But I feel like it's partly about Donald Glover's seemingly personal belief that certain cultures are above, and certain cultures are beneath, particularly his elevation of, like, Asian women, Asian culture that sort of borders on fetishizing them.

HARRIS: Oh no, it's not bordering. It used to be very fetish-ish. It was very...

WISE: That whole thing was a little bit weird to me, too. Like, that's not to say that Black people should not venture out, try new things, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Absolutely.

HARRIS: No, obviously.

WISE: But it just - that whole spiel just felt strange.

HARRIS: Yeah. So my final question for you is a little bit more positive maybe. But, like, do you have a favorite character?

WISE: Darius.

YOUNG: Darius.

WISE: Easily.

YOUNG: Yeah, obviously.

IBRAHIM: Yeah.

WISE: Hands down.

HARRIS: OK. That's the correct answer. And I was actually very...

YOUNG: (Laughter).

HARRIS: I was very glad to see that it ended on a more or less kind of Darius episode.

WISE: Yeah.

HARRIS: I was actually worried that they were going to be like, none of us are going to be in the finale. It's going to be just like Season 3 again.

YOUNG: Yes.

HARRIS: Donald Glover would do that (laughter).

IBRAHIM: Right, right.

HARRIS: But, yes, Darius, was the best, and "Teddy Perkins" will go down, I think, as one of the greatest episodes of all time.

WISE: Still terrifying.

WISE: Still terrifying. Still terrifying. Well, we want to know what you think about "Atlanta." Find us at facebook.com/pchh and on Twitter @pchh. That brings us to the end of our show. Ronald Young Jr., Alana Wise, Shamira Ibrahim, thanks to you all for being here. I know we all feel complicated about it, but it was fun.

YOUNG: This was fun. Thank you.

WISE: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: Definitely a journey.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: And, of course, thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. This episode was produced by Rommel Wood and Candice Lim and edited by Jessica Reedy. Hello Come In provides our theme music. I'm Aisha Harris, and we'll see you all tomorrow when we'll be talking about "Yellowstone."

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