DAR TV: The Boondocks

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-Many times in television, there's a TV show that comes along and changes the way we consume the programs. If there was ever a show that fit that description, The Boondocks would be it. Full of political and racially themed content, this show started off as a popular comic strip that would be turned into a TV show (or sitcom if you will). I remember seeing The Boondocks comic strip in The Source magazine once or twice and of course it would make its way into newspapers, so when I heard about the show being made and put on Adult Swim, I was interested and slightly excited to see what they could do with it. When the show debuted, I had some doubts, but once we saw the first few episodes, we all knew that we were in for something special and the show is truthfully the most memorable series in the history of Adult Swim.

The location of the show has one that has been debated for years, and though I have no clear answer, most signs seem to point to Illinois. The Freeman family hailed from Woodcrest, which many have said is a fictional city based on the suburb Crestwood in Illinois. Though it was never really confirmed, Chicago landmarks and specific details let you know that the basis of the show was essentially Illinois. One could also argue Maryland being the landmark for this show as well, as there are details to support that, but more signs point to Illinois. That notwithstanding, regardless of location, Riley, Grandad, and Huey kept us entertained with their differing personalities and interesting narratives over the show's 4 (really 3) season run. Today, I gathered up the team to reflect on The Boondocks, the hilarity, what it meant to us, and how an animated Adult Swim satirical show could have such a long standing legacy.

I used to rip apart the Sunday Paper just looking for the comics section so I could read the next Boondocks comic. So when the show was announced back in 2005, I couldn't have been more excited and I wasn't even close to disappointed. The Boondocks is the Chappelle's Show of animation. A show so well written, so ahead of its time that the only thing that could have possible done it in was crumbling from the inside. And that is exactly what happened. Aaron Mcgruder, the genius behind the show disagreed with Adult Swim on a production schedule and they made the 4th without any involvement from him. For this reason, I personally, have never seen the 4th season and the show died after 3 in my eyes.

But enough about that, there's so much good to speak about from Huey's musings that didn't come off at all as preachy or holier-than-thou, to Riley's larger than life, SuperNigga personality, to Samuel L Jackson's and Charlie Murphy's performance as Gin Rummy and Ed Wuncler III, two white characters, this show had it all. The most striking aspect of the show was its ability to satirize black culture without speaking down about it. Mcgruder was often a figure of controversy for his content, but he was almost always on point. Classic lines from episodes like the R.Kelly referencing: "I see piss I move, she saw piss, she stayed" and The entirety of "Attack of the Killer Kung Fu Wolf Bitch" as well as my personal favorite, "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back": "YOU EAT A DICK NYGUHHH!!..YOU EAT A DICK!!" Every episode had something to quote at length and Aaron Mcgruder should be far more celebrated for what he created and took from comic strips to late night TV.

The Boondocks was a show that I couldn't quite get enough of. I usually watched it on Adult Swim when it came out, and a number of the episodes I enjoyed were always making fun of a number of things. A reason why I was such a fan of the Boondocks was not only due to its funny nature and making fun of certain celebs and situations, but it also brought some real life things that we see in society into a funny and animated light. If you haven't seen the Boondocks then I suggest you take time out your day/night and check it out. It's worth it.

I could start this one out with a VERY OBVIOUS troll, but no one has time for that. So, with that out the way, let's talk one of my favorite series of all-time. Every Sunday/Monday I'd tune into [adult swim] to see animated people who looked like me engaging in a war against fuckery, one laugh at a time. And it, my friends, was glorious.

Its mix of anime sensibilities, Black/non-traditional "White" culture, South Park/Family Guy equal-opportunity offensiveness for a greater good (social commentary on race relations, pop culture, politics, etc). was classic and ahead of its time. You've got shows still trying to emulate it now--and failing (hi The Cleveland Show). It took all the greatness of Chappelle's Show and turned it onto another spectrum entirely (which is why you'll often hear the two compared against each other, not just for the sake that they're both classic Black television series either). We got SO MANY legendary moments from The Boondocks that it's impossible, for me, to name every one of them. "Let's Kidnap Oprah" and the Riley/Hoop Dreams episode come to mind for me for so many reasons. But, this show made my young adulthood and captured my rage against the machine pretty well while they were at it.

The show has aged gracefully as hell. This, honestly, sucks. Why? Well, for every moment of change, we're still stuck in bullshit. For instance, Huey's first episode speech and moments still ring true today, including the idea of people being impressed with Black people "speaking so well." We're still having nigga moments and we're still allowing Uncle Ruckuses to run amok screaming "Don't Trust Them New Niggers Over There" (not naming anyone, but still; you've seen them on TV and elsewhere).

That's not to say The Boondocks is without faults. For instance, the McGruder-less last season and some very topical jokes here and there sometimes hold the series back just a bit. Additionally, we never got Caesar (still mad about that and probably will forever be) and later episodes became less about witty social commentary and more about "hyuck hyuck" jokes at times. However, even in spite of some of the flaws it has against it, the series was, is, and will forever will be...classic.

Now, I'm wondering what MLK really would say to Donald Trump. I doubt it'd be all "I Have A Dream"-like, that's for sure. With McGruder slated to work on a new series, maybe we'll see. But, at this point, I don't think anything can emulate the greatness that was and is The Boondocks. Unless Aaron McGruder somehow blesses us with a fifth season that he's involved in...

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal 
-If you ask me my favorite moments from the show, they have to be summed up simply in characters and entire episodes. Mcgruder was a genius in the way he took this show and turned into an iconic piece of television. To create characters like the political and revolutionary minded Huey, the gangsta rap loving and emulating Riley, the always bothered yet hilarious Grandad, Gin Rummy, and of course, the most ridiculous character of them all, Uncle Ruckus, showed that Mcgruder has his finger on the pulse of what great social commentary and satirical comedy needed. If you ask me, I think the best episodes all come in the first two seasons, and though I did enjoy the third season a lot (the "Pause" episode is still hilarious and so is "A Date With The Booty Warrior"), those first 2 seasons are simply undefeated. Maybe it was the multi year break that the show took, but regardless, I think the best moments and episodes come from Seasons 1 and 2.

I was quoted as saying that Chappelle's Show gave us the 2 greatest sketch comedy show seasons ever, and I'd dare say that Season 1 of The Boondocks is one of the greatest seasons in television history. The intelligent comedy, the outlandish narratives, and how well the characters all became introduced just flowed perfectly. To start off with something like "The Garden Party", then to follow it up with the ridiculous "Trial Of R. Kelly" was just a back to back punch. The episodes in season 1 are the stuff that legends are made of, and point blank, I don't think there are many TV shows that have a season that can defeat "The Trial of R. Kelly", "Let's Nab Oprah", "Return To The King", or the still relevant "Story of Gangstalicious" episodes. Those aren't the only episodes that made the show so prevalent and enjoyable that season, but they are the strongest at least, along with "Riley Wuz Here" and "A Huey Freeman Christmas". Season 1 of The Boondocks is complete gold and the fact that Mcgruder could come right back with a consistent season 2 shows how in the zone he was.

Season 2 featured episodes like "...Or Die Trying", the ridiculous "Tom, Sarah, and Usher", along with the 2nd part of the "Story of Gangstalicious", and an introduction to the "Story of Thugnificent". Everything about season 2 was fun and enjoyable, but what made it a perfect complement to season 1 is that it didn't force feed regurgitated stories from the previous one (minus the 2nd part of Gangstalicious and his story). Mcgruder came with new angles every season, and he nailed it in that 2nd season, nearly as much as he did in the 1st. Now, one thing I would like to mention before we close this out is the internal conflict that came with one of the more slept on characters in the show, Tom. Unlike the self hating Uncle Ruckus (word to "don't you trust them new niggas over there"), Tom was a conflicted man, and the epitome of the "Uncle Tom" that his character was based on. His last name (Dubois) suggests a possible lineage to W.E.B Dubois, which would make his internal conflict an interesting one. We saw that he could stand up for black people when needed (he took a stand for the Freeman family once during the show), and that he was a basketball player in college, but at his core, he was the "Uncle Tom" that is often joked about for the black man that's "out of touch" or dates white women (Tom does both).

Regardless, I think the character with the deepest narrative on the show and the most underrated is Tom, as his story is honestly one that could have been delved deeper into had we got more seasons of the show. As Peagle stated, usually with the greatest shows, the only way to stop it is from within. After 3 successful seasons, The Boondocks couldn't come to an agreement and ended up doing the final season without Mcgruder. Season 4 doesn't exist to most fans of the show and with good reason. It lacked the pizzazz and the fire that made the first 3 seasons so great. Still, the Boondocks remains a classic series and one of my all time favorites. I just wonder... what if Mcgruder had a season 5 and 6 in him with the current state of society? Much like the Dave Chappelle specials, he'd have material that would offend but make you laugh enough to realize "it's just comedy, lighten the fuck up". That's a message The Boondocks embedded through their entire run and the show remains legendary for that reason and many others.



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