Aaron McGruder is a crazy person. Very intelligent, but crazy. He holds no punches when it comes to his commentary on the media, television, politics, or race. His vehicle is his comic strip, “The Boondocks.” After originally created for Fox as an animated show, the project fell through. Years later, president of Adult Swim Mike Lazzo found the pilot and immediately commissioned more episodes.
The show features brothers Huey (10) and Riley (8) Freeman, who are polar opposites (both voiced by Regina King). They live with their grandad Robert Freeman (John Witherspoon of Friday fame) in a white suburb after their parents died. Huey is heavily rooted in left wing ideals, which is often used for McGruder to express is views. Having been labelled a domestic terrorist, Huey is often shown condemning his brother and Grandad for their self destructive lifestyle from following African-American ideals. Riley is a follower of gansta rap, and is always looking for ways to get rich quick with as little work as possible and Grandad often joining in on his schemes. Honestly, the complexity of these characters and the situations they portray is incredibly well thought out, and something that can’t easily be summed up. I can’t even begin to explain Uncle Ruckus, and his unwavering love for the white man.
The first season was very much inspired by the comic strip. “Jesus Christ was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11.” Huey told this to a crowd of rich white people in the pilot episode. These lines were lifted directly from the comic, and this scene was used to promote the series for months. If that didn’t set the tone, I don’t know what would. From there the season had “The Trial of R. Kelly” (guess what that was about), “Return of the King” (what if MLK Jr. wasn’t killed, just in a coma and woke up), and my personal favorite, “The Itis” (featuring the Luther Vandross sandwich).
During the second season, the show took an interesting turn. While McGruder continued to point out the fallacies in pop culture, particularly gangsta rap and BET, I think he realized he had his own cartoon. Heavily influenced and inspired by anime, McGruder started to included more fight scenes and cartoonish situations. The animations improved leaps and bounds during the second season, mostly thanks to the work of legendary Japanese studio Madhouse (Ninja Scroll). The detail and choreography are difficult to miss. The hard hitting social commentary didn’t completely abate as the season included unaired episodes “The Hunger Strike” and “The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show.” These were pulled as Adult Swim feared legal action from BET.
The show continued in a more anime influenced direction with season 3, though easily the best episode is “Smokin’ With Cigarettes”, inspired by this news story. Every episode of this season made it to air, once, with “Pause” (heavily parodying Tyler Perry) and “The Story of Jimmy Rebel” being pulled from rotation.
A 20 episode fourth season is set to premier in
January April 2014. Who knows what angle the show will take, though I’m sure it’ll be a controversial one.
“I have re-vitiligo.”