- Amy Seimetz, the director of this week’s episode of “Atlanta,” explains coming up with the episode’s most bizarre scene.
- She teases episode 7 of this season, which she also directed, titled “Champagne Papi” – yes, it’s definitely a reference to Drake, she said.
Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the “Helen” episode of season 2 of “Atlanta.”
There was a lot to digest in this week’s episode of “Atlanta.”
Titled “Helen,” Earn (Donald Glover) and Van (Zazie Beetz) take a trip to Helen, Georgia, for a Fastnacht party (think Oktoberfest meets Halloween). And along with navigating the bizarre costumes and strange games, we also see that Earn and Van’s relationship is on shaky ground. The episode ends with the two parting ways.
“Helen” marks only the second time in two seasons of “Atlanta” that an episode was directed by someone other than Glover or Hiro Murai. Amy Seimetz (“The Girlfriend Experience”) was brought on to helm, and admitted she was hesitant at first to take on the job.
- Jason Kempin/Getty
“It is one of my favorite shows and I Skyped with Donald and Hiro and I told them, ‘I just want to make sure that you guys know I don’t know how to direct someone else’s script so there’s going to be a lot of learning from my mistakes.’ And they were like, ‘That’s what we do, we don’t know how to direct TV either,'” Seimetz recalled to Business Insider. “So as soon as they said that I was game to do it.”
First starting out her career as an actress (she was last seen in “Alien: Covenant”), Seimetz has created a impressive filmography behind the camera with her feature film “Sun Don’t Shine” and directing two seasons of “The Girlfriend Experience,” all of which she wrote or co-wrote.
Coming on “Atlanta,” Seimetz was relieved to find that she was given little restriction on what she could do. She said a big reason for that was the need for a female point-of-view, as the “Helen” episode is one of the rare times in the series when the focus is on the Van character.
“We haven’t gotten to see her internal struggle with Earn, what she’s going through while he’s trying to make Paper Boy a thing,” she said. “I think they wanted a woman to tackle that.”
It also helped that Seimetz had an emotional connection to Helen, Georgia. “10 years ago I had a breakup with my boyfriend in Helen,” she said.
But other than that incredible coincidence, she said she didn’t recall Helen being as bizarre as the episode depicts it.
Along with the strange costumes everyone’s wearing, at one point Earn and Van are sitting in a circle playing a game that involves two tennis balls being passed around and everyone trying to bounce the ball into two jars in the center of the circle. Puzzled by the game, Earn ends up with both balls and then just gets up from his seat and places the balls into the cartons. Everyone is in awe at what he did and he wins the game.
“That was completely made up,” Seimetz said of the game. “Donald told me he was watching some YouTube video of a Swedish game and he just couldn’t figure out what the f— they were doing. He thought it was just the whitest game that you could ever play. He said, ‘When we make it up it needs to be that no one knows what’s going on.'”
So on the day of shooting, Seimetz and Glover tried to explain the game to the cast. “People were like, ‘I don’t get the goal of the game,’ and we were like, ‘We don’t either, we just made it up right now!’ I still have no idea why Earn won the game.”
Seimetz’s work will be seen later this season on “Atlanta” in episode seven titled “Champagne Papi.” She said this episode will focus on Van and her friends having a girls night out on the town.
And is the title of the episode a reference to Drake, whose Instagram account is named that?
“It definitely is a Drake reference,” she said. “But the less you know about it the better.”