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Donald Glover's Best Projects, Ranked by Metacritic

Donald Glover is the mastermind behind 'Atlanta,' but he's making his mark on movies and music, too. Discover his best projects, ranked by Metascore.
by Taylor Freitas — 
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Donald Glover

Gregg DeGuire / Getty Images

Whether you refer to him as Donald Glover or Childish Gambino, it's certainly hard to ignore the talent of this Atlanta-grown actor, rapper, and writer.

Glover started establishing his entertainment career while studying at NYU, where he produced his first mixtape, The Younger I Get. While in college, he also co-created Derrick Comedy, an internet sketch comedy group whose videos have racked up more than 110 million views on YouTube.

Soon after, at just 23 years old, Glover landed a writing job on the Tina Fey-created sitcom 30 Rock. He also continued working with Derrick Comedy, writing and starring in the troupe's film Mystery Team, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. In the same year, Glover signed on to play ex-high school athlete Troy Barnes on NBC's Community — a role that lasted five seasons.

Around the same time, Glover began creating music under his Childish Gambino stage name, starting with a series of self-released mixtapes. His first studio album, Camp, came out in 2011 and was shortly followed by his second, Because the Internet, two years later. In 2015, he received his first Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album (for Because the Internet) and Best Rap Performance (for "3005"). 

However, his career entered a new era in 2016, when Atlanta premiered on FX. The show, which was inspired by Glover's experience growing up in the Peach State, has received universal acclaim from critics and audiences (as evidenced by its Metascore of 93). Glover serves as the show's creator, producer, writer, and lead actor and made history when he became the first Black director to earn the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.

Here, Metacritic highlights Glover's highest-rated 10 projects, based on Metascore.


Atlanta

Metascore: 93
Best for: Music lovers, dramedy fans
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 3 (so far)

Now in its third season, Atlanta is a comedy-drama series created by Glover (he also produces, directs, and stars in the show). The story revolves around Earnest "Earn" Marks (Glover), who moves back to his hometown of Atlanta to reconnect with his family and help his cousin Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) launch his rap career. Since premiering in 2016, Atlanta has won five Primetime Emmys and two Golden Globes, including Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy. Glover's Season 1 performance earned him the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy. The show is wrapping up a four-year run in 2022, dropping two seasons before the calendar year's end.

"Glover's Atlanta, it turns out, has all the right beats." — Chuck Barney, San Jose Mercury News


3.15.20

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of funk and hip-hop
Where to listen:

As its title would suggest, Glover's fourth album, 3.15.20, was released in March 2020, under his Childish Gambino stage name. It features 12 tracks, most of which are named after the time that they start on the album (for example, "24.19" begins at the 24-minute, 19-second mark), and includes appearances from artists Ariana Grande (on "Time") and 21 Savage (on "12.38"). His Grammy-nominated song "Feels Like Summer" was released in 2018 as the lead single for the album, but its official title on 3.15.20 is "42.26."

"3.15.20 signals an important shift for Childish Gambino and secures the album's spot as one of the best of the year." — Elisabeth Woronzoff, PopMatters


Girls

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of slightly later in life coming-of-age comedies
Where to watch: Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu,

(Buy)
Seasons: 6

Created by and starring Lena Dunham, Girls follows four New York women in their early twenties learning to navigate life in the city. Glover joins the show in the second season, playing the role of Sandy, a love interest of main character Hannah Horvath (Dunham). The pair break it off after a couple of episodes, but not before Glover improvised a poignant and memorable assessment on interracial dating in New York City. After debuting in 2012, Girls completed a six-season run on HBO, winning a BAFTA Award, two Primetime Emmys, and two Golden Globes.

"It's certainly been a long time since I was this beguiled by a set [of] characters, but Girls is one of those rare birds." — Maureen Ryan, The Huffington Post


The Martian

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of science-fiction and space movies
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes,
Runtime: 144 minutes

Directed by Ridley Scott, The Martian is a 2015 science-fiction flick about astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is left behind on a failed mission to Mars. As he tries to survive, he begins a video diary to document his journey. Upon realizing that Watney may still be alive, a team of scientists works on a solution to bring him home — with Glover's character, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) astrodynamicist Rich Purnell, leading the plan. The Martian was widely regarded by critics and awards bodies alike, earning seven Oscar nominations and taking home two Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical.

"This is a movie of innumerable delightful moments and small discoveries, and even more of infectious enthusiasm." — Andrew O'Hehir, Salon


Awaken, My Love!

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of soul and R&B
Where to listen:

In 2016, Glover (as Childish Gambino) released Awaken, My Love!, his third studio album. While his earlier albums largely fell within the hip-hop genre, Awaken, My Love! skewed more toward R&B, funk, and soul, with Glover singing most songs rather than rapping. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart and was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Urban Contemporary Album and Album of the Year. Its second single, "Redbone," earned the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance and was nominated for Record of the Year and Best R&B Song.

"Colourful, brilliantly messy, and a fully committed hodge-podge of psych and spacecake croons." — El Hunt, DIY Magazine


The Muppets (2011)

Metascore: 75
Best for: Disney fans, families
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes,
Runtime: 103 minutes

The Muppets tells the story of Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), a huge Muppet fan, who travels to Los Angeles with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary's girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams). While touring Muppet Studios, he finds out that a wealthy businessman named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is planning to demolish Muppet Theater and replace it with an oil-drilling operation. Desperate to save his favorite show, Walter gets the Muppets back together and throws a telethon to buy back the theater. Glover has a minor role in the film, appearing as an executive at CDE, the network that airs the telethon.

"It is with immense pleasure that I can report that Disney's Muppet reboot movie is an absolute delight." — Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle


Community

Metascore: 74
Best for: Fans of ensemble comedies, pop culture homages, and colorful characters
Where to
watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes, Netflix,
Seasons: 6

Set at a local community college in Colorado, this Dan Harmon-created comedy series revolves around a study group led by disgraced former lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale). He's joined by a diverse (and quirky) bunch of his fellow students, including activist Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), movie buff Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), divorced mother Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), straight-laced overachiever Annie Edison (Alison Brie), and former high-school football player Troy Barnes (Glover). Glover appeared on the first five of Community's six seasons, during which the show won a Primetime Emmy and a Critics' Choice Television Award.

"Community is mercilessly snarky and also surprisingly charming, which is not easy to pull off." — Alessandra Snarkey, The New York Times


Spider-Man: Homecoming

Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of comic books and superheroes
Where to watch: 

, Google PlayiTunes, , Vudu
Runtime: 133 minutes

Released in 2017, Spider-Man: Homecoming follows a teenage Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he gets acquainted with his superhero powers and steps into the role of Spider-Man. In the film, Glover plays Aaron Davis, a criminal who tries to buy weapons from the corrupt villain Vulture (Michael Keaton). Davis is the uncle of Miles Morales, a young teen who became Spider-Man in 2018's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Coincidentally, in 2015, Glover voiced Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated TV series. Spider-Man: Homecoming was a massive hit at the box office, grossing more than $880 million in worldwide ticket sales.

"Genially aware of itself and terrifically likeable. Only now is this series coming of age." — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal


30 Rock

Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of satire and sitcoms
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunesNetflix, ,
Seasons: 7

30 Rock, created by Tina Fey, follows a cast of characters who work on Liz Lemon's (Fey) live sketch series based at NBC's 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. As she tries to "have it all," Liz is forced to deal with a difficult boss (Alec Baldwin) and temperamental former movie star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). According to Vanity Fair, Fey based much of the show on her experience as the first female head writer on Saturday Night Live. Glover worked as a writer and executive story editor on 30 Rock and also made several cameo appearances throughout the show's seven-season run — including one standout performance as a young Tracy.

"Its frequent, gleeful skewering of NBC is just icing on the cake." — Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Camp

Metascore: 69
Best for: Hip-hop fans
Where to listen:

 

Camp, which came out in 2011,was Glover's first studio album as Childish Gambino. The album's release prompted several critics to compare his style to Kanye West (whom Glover later called a "prophet"). Each of the album's 13 tracks was written and produced by Glover and his longtime musical collaborator Ludwig Göransson. Like much of his musical work, Camp explores complicated themes including race, relationships, and family turmoil, which pair well with Glover's quick wit and blunt delivery. The album's singles included "Bonfire" and "Heartbeat," which went certified gold and platinum, respectively, in the United States.

"He can really, really rap, plus sing and emote and put on a show better than 90% of his hip-hop counterparts." — Chris Coplan, Consequence