Entertainment

Everything We Know About 'Atlanta' Seasons 3 and 4

Not one but two seasons of Donald Glover's FX series are on the way.

atlanta fx
Brian Tyree Henry and Donald Glover | Guy D'Alema/FX
Brian Tyree Henry and Donald Glover | Guy D'Alema/FX

"It's all about that paper, boy," raps fictional artist Paper Boi on his viral hit on Atlanta, the FX series created by Donald Glover. That lyric is always present in the story about Paper Boi aka Alfred Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) and his cousin/manager Earn Marks (Donald Glover) as they struggle to navigate the music industry. The show's network apparently also seems to stand by the verse, considering they ordered two additional seasons of the acclaimed comedy shortly after its second one, titled Atlanta Robbin' Season, aired.

The series, which debuted way back in the fall of 2016 and returned with 11 new episodes starting in March 2018, has only grown in popularity during its two-year hiatus, and the people want to know: When will we get to see more adventures involving Alfred, Earn, his on-again, off-again girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz), and their pal Darius (Lakeith Stanfield)? The delay can be partially attributed to the rise of Glover with his Grammy-winning song and video "This Is America," his roles in Solo and The Lion King, a film project with Rihanna, and a new album. Regardless, a lot more Atlanta is in the works, and here's what we know about the next two seasons so far.

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Brian Tyree Henry | FX

When will Atlanta Season 3 and 4 be released? 

Back in February 2019, news broke that production on Season 3 of the series was delayed. According to The Hollywood Reporter, FX chief John Landgraf revealed at a Television Critics Association panel that the show was behind schedule, partially due to personal reasons and the many other work commitments in Glover's life. So when making a 2019 release seemed unlikely, they decided to aim for an early 2021 premiere with Season 4 airing not even a year later in fall 2021, according to Deadline

Well, unfortunately, the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic will probably push back the release yet again. Like many other TV and movie productions, production on Atlanta was halted back in March 2019 before the cast and crew had yet to start shooting. When you consider Deadline's report from a TCA event in winter 2020 that Landgraf said the new seasons are already written, it seems like now it's just about actually shooting the new episodes and post-production. It's hard to say when that'll happen, but it is possible that we'll be seeing some new Atlanta at some point in 2021 -- just probably not early in the year. Hey, at least there will be more of the show than originally anticipated to make it all worth the wait. 

How many episodes will there be in Atlanta Seasons 3 and 4?

Originally, Seasons 3 and 4 were both guaranteed for eight episodes, but (thankfully) that number was upped once the writers got back into the writer's room and fleshed things out. Now, Deadline reports Season 3 will feature 10 installments and Season 4 is sticking with 8. It's right around the range the series is used to, with Season 1 featuring 10 episodes and 2 including 11. We'll take what we can get.  

Who in the cast is returning? 

While nothing is officially confirmed, you can bet just about everybody in the core cast should be back. The show wouldn't be the same without Donald Glover as Earn, Brian Tyree Henry as Paper Boi, LaKeith Stanfield as Darius, and Zazie Beetz as Van. It would also make sense to see some more of RJ Walker who plays Clark County, the rising rapper who Paper Boi was about to join on tour right at the end of Season 2. Matthew Barnes who plays Lucas, Clark County's manager vying to sign Paper Boi, could be back as well. 

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Donald Glover and Zazie Beetz | FX

What will Seasons 3 and 4 of Atlanta be about? 

As a social commentary on race and class masked as a show about a rising rapper that frequently experiments and veers off from its throughline story episode to episode -- including one of its bests -- it's hard to say what exactly will happen in the upcoming seasons of Atlanta. One thing is for sure, though, which is it's likely to continue following the ceaseless struggle of Earn and Al trying to make it and failing miserably at both the hands of the music industry, systemic racism, and Earn's own poor decision making. 

More specifically, it's likely we'll see that all play out on Paper Boi's first-ever tour, since Season 2 ended just as he and Earn were about to take off on a flight to Europe where they were set to join Clark County on tour. It seems especially plausible, considering FX chairman John Landgraf said a good deal of the show intends to film abroad -- that is, if the global pandemic allows at some point in the foreseeable future. 

Atlanta could also continue to get even darker going forward, now that we know the lengths Earn is willing to go to protect himself and Al. As you may recall, before the two were able to board their flight to jet-set across the world for tour in the Season 2 finale, Earn realized he still had his uncle's gun in his luggage and shoved it into Clark County's (RJ Walker) bag before they went through airport security. Earn was able to carry on as nothing happened, but Clark County's manager (Matthew Barnes) took the fall for it in order to protect his client. The moment spoke volumes in terms of how far Earn was willing to go to both protect himself and his cousin/artist, and that could continue to come back up as the two continue to navigate the industry and success. 

Plus, more broadly, the showrunners explained that they hope to feature more women's stories going forward. Zazie Beetz's Van is a lead on the show, but only one episode thus far (the wonderful "Champagne Papi") wholly focused on her and her girlfriends. Expect more of that and other similar storylines in Season 3, though, because writer/producer Stephen Glover told THR the series has "some cool ideas … that’ll put some more women on screen." He said, "There’s a very specific perspective from the Atlanta woman that I think we’re gonna explore in Season 3." 

It's hard to say what that means right now, or even when we'll be able to see the now highly anticipated return of Atlanta, but continue to check back, as we'll continue to update this post as more news regarding Seasons 3 and 4 are released. 
 

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.