When Donald Glover graduated from the DeKalb School of the Arts in Georgia, his fellow students named him “Most Likely to Write for The Simpsons.” But perhaps a more accurate (if hyper-specific) yearbook superlative would have been, “Most Likely to Create a Critically Acclaimed TV Show, Play a Scene-Stealing Gambler in Star Wars, Host SNL, and Release One of the Year’s Most Popular Music Videos.” Glover’s accomplished all of that, in May alone.
Think of it this way: every studio wants to make a four-quadrant movie, which appeals to males under (#1) and over 25 years old (#2), and females under (#3) and over 25 years old (#4). Glover has four-quadrant appeal in a customary sense, but he’s also tackling the four quadrants of entertainment: TV, movies, music, and online appeal. He’s Jennifer Lopez having the number-one movie (The Wedding Planner) and number-one album (J.Lo) at the same time, plus two.
Let’s break down the month Glover is having.
With all due respect to Killing Eve and The Terror (which are both wonderful!), Atlanta is the best show on television right now. It’s unpredictable (one week you get the surreal horror of “Teddy Perkins,” the next Van is trying on Drake’s clothes), hilarious (young Earn on Dragon Ball Z: “My mom saw the black guy with red lips and now she says it’s racist”), and poignant. Atlanta — which would be unbearably tragic (Earn, Paper Boi, and Darius sitting on a couch with a Confederate flag behind them…) if it wasn’t uproariously absurd (…and two rows of naked, pasty frat boys in front of them) — is so good that even the show’s most frequently employed director Hiro Murai, who hasn’t made a feature film yet, is being called the “filmmaker of the year.” Oh yeah, and Glover not only hosted a well-received SNL, but, as Childish Gambino, he also had the rare honor of being the musical guest, too (more on that later). There was even a ratings boost, which is the Glover bump in action. Unfortunately, Atlanta‘s season two finale is tonight, but that also means we’re getting closer to…
There are two kinds of actors/actresses: those who are in a Marvel or Star Wars movie (75 percent of Hollywood), and those who aren’t. Glover falls into the former camp. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, he plays the smoothest motherf*cker in the galaxy: Lando Calrissian. His name isn’t in the title of the movie, but everyone knows Lando is the real star. He’s got the Falcon (for now), he’s got the tour, and most importantly, he’s got the cape. Glover is the perfect choice to play the iconic character, and honestly, the only one. Lando is charismatic but complicated, a con man you can’t help but love. Solo is Glover’s biggest theatrical role to date (no offense, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), and will be until he voices Simba in The Lion King remake. Glover is successfully balancing the fine line between the mainstream (so, Disney) and doing what he wants in other aspects of his career.
As pointed out by our own Derrick Rossignol, “Since Yeezy Season lasted a total of maybe a week before it blew up in Kanye’s face, it looks like it’s now Gambino Season.” It’s actually been Gambino Season since December 2, 2016, when Glover released “Awaken, My Love!,” a soulful throwback that was nominated for five Grammys and spawned a hit single, “Redbone.” It was his first taste of near-universal musical acclaim (feel free to revisit Pitchfork‘s infamous Camp review, or maybe don’t), and the accolades continued with the first singles from his next (and last?) album. “Saturday” is fun and funky, while “This Is America” is an incisive depiction of a country in chaos, with an endlessly rewatchable Murai-directed music video that within days, “amassed over 50 million views on YouTube, breaking all of Gambino’s previous records of the video platform.” (It’s inspired just as many thinkpieces.) The single is expected to debut in the top-five of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, alongside “Nice for What” by Drake and Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey’s “The Middle.”
Search Twitter for “President Donald Glover.”
Or better yet:
Donald Glover is bringing back the cape. There’s nothing he can’t do.