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July 09, 2018

Spoken Words

Stephen Glover lets his scriptwriting speak for itself.

Neil Turitz
  • Robert Ascroft

He's heard the talk of nepotism before.

Stephen Glover got a job writing for FX's Emmy-winning Atlanta, people say, only because his older brother Donald created it. That's the only way someone with no real writing experience could get such a coveted gig on a show that has become one of the most admired on television.

He takes it all in stride, because the people who say that are right, and he's the first to admit it. "It doesn't bother me, because it's true," he says with an easy laugh. "I wouldn't have gotten the job if Donald wasn't my brother, but he had confidence in me and my abilities, because we'd been bouncing ideas off each other for years. I'm always trying to improve, and, as Donald says, if you do good work, then that work will speak for itself."

And it has. The first script Glover wrote for the show — the second episode of season one, "Streets on Lock" — was nominated for an Emmy. It was, in fact, the younger Glover's TV writing debut. Though it didn't win him a trophy (that went to Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe for the "Thanksgiving" episode of Master of None), it did make eminently clear why his brother had hired him.

"It's really simple," Glover says. "I justified my role by writing good scripts." Like his brother, he's also a rapper; he wrote and recorded the show's catchy unofficial theme song, "Paper Boi."

Part of the show's charm is the way it effortlessly shifts gears from comedy to drama and back again. In the wake of the first season's success, the Glovers and their fellow writers wanted to take a fresh look at the show's world and bring it a new perspective. So they went on a field trip to Atlanta and decided to make a big change.

Rather than revisit the warm, summery vibe of season one, they moved the action to winter, when temperatures drop, desperation grows and crime rises. For season two — on which Glover was a writer–executive producer — the show was subtitled Robbin' Season.

"For us, it was a metaphor for all the things that are wrong with the city," Glover says. "It ties everything together: the racism, the poverty, everything. It all comes together through this."

While plenty of people would have a hard time working with a sibling in any capacity, this partnership happens to be easy and very, very public. It also happens to be extremely solid.

"People ask me all the time, 'How do you get along so well?'" Glover relates. "We're a lot alike. And, to be honest, a lot of it is just us goofing off. That's what we do, and it's like that with the whole family. We end up joking about stuff and laughing at stuff, and that's how the show works. Like I tell Donald, if it's funny to us, it'll be funny to everybody."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 6, 2018

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