Bill Hader won this year’s Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series — well-deserved, as anyone who watched HBO’s electric dramedy Barry knows well. But it seems like his fellow nominee Donald Glover, who created and stars in Atlanta on FX, was planning something big if he had won the award.
We all saw a glimpse of it, but maybe only a handful of us understood what Glover was getting at — or that we were even looking at Glover, or anyone from Atlanta. Here’s a screenshot in the tweet below of what flashed on screen briefly following Hader’s acceptance speech:
The man in the red velvet suit looked … off, right? Not quite like an average actor, or even an average person. (Whatever that means, of course!) This white man with brown hair, it turns out, was a memorable Atlanta character — this time played not by Glover, apparently, but by co-star Lakeith Stanfield — in a huge amount of makeup.
Stanfield wasn’t just dressed up for a random joke. It’s a straight reference to “Teddy Perkins,” one of the more bizarre episodes from this season of Atlanta. Much was made of the title character’s haunting appearance following the episode’s airing, because of his high cheekbones and seemingly pounds of makeup … and also because word on the street was that Teddy Perkins was actually Donald Glover under there.
And he was! And Donald Glover, instead of retiring the character, decided to bring Teddy Perkins out one more time, although it appears he gave Stanfield the costume this time. Donald Glover, as viewers later caught upon re-watch, was actually seated elsewhere in the audience. What a night people.
Was this the last we’ll get of Teddy Perkins? Who’s to say. A third season of Atlanta airs next year.
Update: We’ve updated the post above with clarification and additional information about the Emmys audience goof.