Why it’s taken nearly four years for FX’s ‘Atlanta’ to come back

Lakeith Stanfield, Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry in a scene from "Atlanta." (Guy D'Alema/FX via AP)

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Lakeith Stanfield, Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry in a scene from "Atlanta." (Guy D'Alema/FX via AP)

The Emmy-winning series starring Donald Glover finally debuts season three in March 2022.

FX’s “Atlanta” concluded its heralded second season on May 10, 2018.

The top movie that week? “Avengers: Endgame.” Top song? “Nice for What” by Drake. Stacey Abrams was running for Georgia governor ― the first time around.

The Emmy-nominated show created by Donald Glover, who grew up in Stone Mountain, quickly received a third season renewal back in 2018 with expectations that the show would be back in 2019. But FX only this past week finally announced a return date: March 24, 2022.

That is a gap of nearly four years between seasons, one of the longest in the history of TV. In that same time period, CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” a conventional police procedural that debuted in 2010 and starring Tom Selleck, will have released more than 70 new episodes.

“Atlanta” aired its first season in the fall of 2016 and its second season during the spring of 2018, totaling 21 episodes, not an atypical run for a basic cable show in this day and age.

Glover plays Earn, a struggling Iyy League dropout managing his low-key cousin and rising hip-hop star Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) who raps under the name Paper Boi. Earn is largely broke at the start of the show while trying to raise a son with his ex-girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz). LaKeith Stanfield is Darius, Alfred’s eccentric friend and sidekick. Alfred lands a fluke hit single and Earn tries to capitalize on that success.

The show’s distinctive blend of comedy, drama and surrealism captured a slice of the city that had been rarely shown before, and critics showered Glover with accolades, calling him a true original and visionary. Though the show didn’t pull in huge ratings, it won two Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.

>> RELATED: Five reasons why ‘Atlanta’ won a Golden Globe in 2017

>>RELATED: Why critics loved ‘Atlanta’ even more season 2

Glover’s super-packed schedule prevented an immediate return of the show, which was shot on location in metro Atlanta in 2016 and 2017. He hosted “Saturday Night Live” five days before the season two finale of “Atlanta.” He starred in 2018′s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” as a young version of Lando Calrissian.

He spent the fall of 2018 touring as his alter ego, rap artist Childish Gambino, riding high on his provocative video and No. 1 song “This is America.” He shot and released a film on Amazon Prime called “Guava Island” starring him and Rihanna. He worked with Adidas on a new line of sneakers. He provided the voice of Simba in the live-action film “The Lion King” released in 2019.

He then recorded a fourth Childish Gambino album that came out in March 2020.

By then, FX had already given “Atlanta” a fourth season with plans to tape the third and fourth seasons concurrently in 2020 for release in 2021. Then, the pandemic hit, delaying production another year.

The show finally began production in London in April 2021, with filming in Amsterdam and Paris as well, and was completed by August. The fourth season of “Atlanta” was shot in metro Atlanta this past fall.

FX said season three will consist of Paper Boi on a tour in Europe and how the crew deals with Alfred’s breakthrough fame.

There are 10 episodes scheduled for season three.

FX planned to launch its “Atlanta” marketing campaign Christmas Day by releasing a new teaser trailer set to run during ESPN and ABC’s set of NBA games.

There have been no details of the plotline for season four or when that season might debut.