It is unlikely that we’ll ever actually see the “and a movie” in the #SixSeasonsandaMovie creed centered around Community fandom. A nice dream and meta-joke for a show infamous for its intertextual humor, one of the very last images of the series finale of Community was “#AndaMovie.” But some of the characters from that series whom folks love, like Donald Glover as Troy Barnes, have moved on to other projects that keep them very busy, including the award winning Atlanta. Indeed, it was while promoting the second season of that series that Glover gave an illuminating and trenchant interview with The New Yorker.
The magazine’s Tad Friend profiled Glover for a dense but engrossing 10,000-plus words, which tried to peg down what drives a creative type who will bounce between sitcoms, studio blockbusters, subversive and inherently political television, and begrudging musical performances at the Grammys. Glover’s insight into what it means to be a black artist in an industry and culture dominated by white people was provocative and eye-opening, at least for white readers, and made for nice context while looking back at his time on the NBC sitcom Community—and the apparent racism that he faced from comedian Chevy Chase.
According to Glover and Community creator Dan Harmon, Chase would disrupt scenes and make racist “cracks” between takes, such as, “People think you’re funnier because you’re black.”
Harmon spoke of how Glover refused to be rattled by it. “Chevy was the first to realize how immensely gifted Donald was, and the way he expressed his jealousy was to try to throw Donald off,” Harmon said. “I remember apologizing to Donald after a particularly rough night of Chevy’s non-P.C. verbiage, and Donald said, ‘I don’t even worry about it.’”
Glover himself brushed off Chase by saying, “I just saw Chevy as fighting time—a trust artist has to be okay with his reign being over. I can’t help him if he’s thrashing in the water. But I know there’s a human in there somewhere—he’s almost too human.”
Chase commented in response to The New Yorker that he was saddened to hear “Donald perceived me in that light.”
The rest of the article shines its own fascinating light onto Glover’s idiosyncratic career choices, including taking a small role in Spider-Man: Homecoming to understand how studio politics worked on a major tentpole, as well as how he needed a “white translator” to get FX to let Atlanta use the n-word.
As for Community, ironically like Chase before him, Glover did not make it to the final season. While the series lasted six years, Glover’s Troy Barnes departed midway through season 5 on a sea odyssey with Levar Burton. At the time, there was some ambiguity on the decision to leave, but as relayed to Tad Friend, the decision was made because Glover was described as “too bored to do it anymore.” Still, there do not seem to be hard feelings between Harmon and Glover.
Harmon speaks glowingly of Glover, and how he would allow the actor to improv “button” jokes on Community—something he’s rarely allowed other performers on his shows. And he Tweeted out this complimentary comment today when the article dropped online.
You can again read the full profile, including how Glover compares himself to Jesus Christ, right here.