It's been a long time since we last visited Donald Glover's specific, surreal vision of Atlanta.
But the highly-anticipated second season of the Emmy-winning FX comedy, officially titled Atlanta Robbin' Season (more on that later), finally has a premiere date of March 1. And because the return is right around the corner, the multi-hyphenate (Seriously, not only does he star in the series he created, but he is also credited as executive producer, director, writer and executive music producer. Whew.) and his co-stars were on hand during FX's day at the 2018 TCA Winter Press Tour to give the world some insight into what it's like to return to something that was so rapturously received the first time around, as well as what to expect once it's back.
"What we liked about the first season was we just looked at it as 30 minutes on television. We weren't trying to think about it in terms of sitcom tropes and what has come before. We really tried to just devolve what television was. We just had 30 minutes to do whatever we want," Donald explained. "So we just went into this being like ‘Why are we going to do seasons? Everybody does seasons.' I felt like the theme that we really wanted to go for was this. I think in the writer's room we talked a lot about How I Spent My Summer Vacation by the Tiny Toons which is a show we really liked. That was kind of the inspiration for season two."
Now, before you start thinking that Earn, Van (Zazie Beets), Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) and the rest of the gang are going to suddenly get animated or spend some time with some animals or something like that (though, with this show, that might still be possible), Donald's brother Stephen Glover, who writes and serves as executive producer on Atlanta, explained how that early '90s animated classic truly inspired this new batch of episodes.
"Summer Vacation Tiny Toons episodes were broken up into a bunch of episodes, like eight or nine, but if you watched them all together, it was a movie," he explained. "We had this idea like, yeah, a whole story, but being told in a bunch of little parts."
"You enjoy them more when they're all together, but you also enjoy them in little bit," Donald added.
As for the interesting new title, Stephen also kindly explained to the room what it was all about. "Robbin' Season, for most of you that don't know, is a time in Atlanta before Christmastime and New Year's, but it's basically a bunch of crime happens in the city because people have their Christmas gifts," he said. "It's just a time where robberies go up, like all times...It's just a very tense and desperate time, so we kind of wanted to make that the backdrop of the season…Robbin' Season's kind of a metaphor for all of our characters."
When the conversation turned to the pressure felt trying to capitalize on the first season's success in the face of fan expectations, Donald admitted that he's wary of giving people what they think they want. "It just feels like everybody wants you to do the thing that they like again," he said.
"At one point you talked about how last season, the 'B.A.M.' episode was sort of the anomaly or the one that completely unboxed what the TV format could be and you saying, ‘We can't do another one like that,'" Zazie added. "So, like, not copying yourself."
Something tells us that for the endlessly creative artist at the helm, not copying himself shouldn't be much of a problem.
Atlanta Robbin' Season kicks off on Thursday, March 1 at 10 p.m. on FX.