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 back in the fall of 2016 and returned with 11 new episodes in March 2018, has only grown in popularity during its 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, his film project Guava Island with Rihanna, and his surprise album 3.15.20. Regardless, a lot more Atlanta is in the works, and here's what we know about the next two seasons so far.

paper boi atlanta
Brian Tyree Henry | FX

When will Atlanta Season 3 and 4 be released? 

In February 2019, news broke that production on Season 3 of the series was delayed—and, well, the delays haven't stopped, unfortunately. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the initial pushbacks were due to personal reasons and other work commitments in Donald Glover's life, and now the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the series' production schedule. 

IndieWire reported FX Networks and FX Productions chairman John Landgraf said at a September 2020 press conference that the show intends to get back to shooting (safely) sometime in early 2021. It's still unclear when exactly that will be, or if the timeline will need to get pushed back even more, given the state of the pandemic, but the good news is that Landgraf said both Seasons 3 and 4 are written, will be shot back-to-back, and at least Season 3 will hit the air sometime in 2021. No official release date has been announced, but should filming start in the near future, it seems feasible that the third installment could debut sometime in fall or winter. 

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

Originally, Seasons 3 and 4 were both guaranteed eight episodes, but (thankfully) that number was upped once the writers got back into the writer's room and fleshed things out. Deadline reports Season 3 will feature 10 installments and Season 4 is sticking with eight. 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? 

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. 

zazie beetz atlanta
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 it.

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, and that theme 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 highly anticipated return of Atlanta, but we can at least get excited knowing it's supposed to exceed expectations. Donald Glover took to Twitter to give fans an update in November 2020, sharing the next installments are going to be "some of the best television ever made." He wrote, "Sopranos only ones who can touch us." We don't doubt him! 

Continue to check back, as we'll keep updating this post as more news regarding Seasons 3 and 4 is released. 

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