‘Hellur’: Fans Think ‘Atlanta’ Took Jabs at Tyler Perry In Season-Four Episode, Show Writer Says They Were Inspired by ‘Different Hollywood People’

Donald Glover and his “Atlanta” crew sparked an online frenzy when they made a fictional Black media mogul the center of a story line in the season-four episode titled “Work Ethic.”

The episode, which first aired on Oct. 6, sees Van, played by actress Zazie Beetz, and her on-screen daughter Lottie test out the waters of scripted television. While Van thought she would do a few hours of work as an extra, her daughter managed to become a star on set, catching the eye of Mr. Chocolate, the owner of Chocolate Studios and creator-producer of every Black-led production being filmed at the media complex.

Fans of the show could not help but to conclude that Glover and the writers were making a parody of Tyler Perry. Even more non-coincidental is the fact that Mr. Chocolate runs several shows using many of the same actors, similar to Perry, who has employed several of the same actors in a number of his film and television projects. 

For much of the episode, Mr. Chocolate goes unseen, only being heard through speakers throughout the various stages that were named after Black actors like John Witherspoon. Again, another similarity to Perry, who named stages at his Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta after some of the most iconic and celebrated Black actors. By the end of the episode, the fictional TV producer is revealed in his office as he steadily types scripts the length of ancient mythical scrolls.

Show writer Janine Nabers spoke with Complex about the episode, where she said that Mr. Chocolate was not Perry, but instead a culmination of real-life people. “I would say that this character is an amalgamation of different Hollywood people,” she said. 

As for the jabs she and the writers seemingly took at the “Madea” actor and his mostly Black productions and storylines, Nabers said they were inspired by Hollywood’s formulaic approach to creating projects for Black audiences.

“So there’s this aesthetic when it comes to Black folk and art that I think some people really double down on. Mr. Chocolate. It’s not just one person,” said Nabers. She added, “He represents many different people in Hollywood that kind of have this similar aesthetic of Blackness and art and the stories that we tell and what resonates with being a compelling Black story or a real Black story.” 

However, viewers are sold on the idea of the episode being a complete mockery of Perry. “All I wanna know is, did Donald Glover call Tyler Perry in advance to give him a heads up or did Tyler get a surprise Thursday night when everyone started blowing up his phone?” tweeted one person after viewing the episode.

A separate tweet read, “I lost it when Mr. Chocolate answered the phone with “Hellur.” Donald Glover has black airforces energy for Tyler Perry.”


“Tyler Perry has been running the game for so long he got a Boondocks episode and an Atlanta episode,” wrote another person.

“Donald Glover wants his ass beat by Tyler Perry,” read another tweet.

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