“Excuse me, everyone. I have a brief announcement to make: Jesus was Black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11. Thank you for your time. And goodnight.”
The Boondocks was one of the most blunt and straightforward critiques of American culture featured on television. The show, an animated adaptation of Aaron McGruder’s long running comic strip, followed Huey and Riley Freeman, two Chicago boys, growing up with their grandfather in the predominantly white, affluent neighborhood of Woodcrest. If The Boondocks were to come back today, it would be one of the biggest shows on television.
The show first aired in November 2005 and officially ended in 2014, although McGruder played no part in the final season of the show.
On the surface level, every episode is funny, and each is a clever mix of hip-hop, humor, and an anime-style aesthetic. But, by digging a little deeper, one discovers that the show offers an opinion on an array of socio-political issues. It was able to do so because McGruder held nothing back and Adult Swim gave McGruder the leeway to produce episodes that poked fun at anything and everybody.
The representation that the show created was also very important. McGruder created a show that displayed the varying perspectives of individuals in the Black community. It spoke about Black culture in a way that only another Black person can. He featured characters that were caricatures of various Black identities – Huey is the political rebel, Riley is the ignorant kid from the hood, and Uncle Ruckus is a Black man that hates Black people.
All of these characters were important because it provided McGruder with the space to encompass various feelings and thoughts. The show was poignant and purposeful in its judgment, but still gave the audience the ability to formulate their own opinions on different subject matter.
With the socio-political climate of the United States so fractured and only getting worse, McGruder would have so much material to comment on that the show might never end. In this past year alone, marginalized groups have become much more vocal about the injustices that wider society has chosen to ignore. Furthermore, we have learned how flawed our political system actually is and a guy, who literally complains instead of creating an actual political platform, is now in the running for president. The Boondocks’ writers would have a field day with all of this ammo.
At the same time, it is increasingly becoming mentally and physically exhausting living within the U.S.. We are now aware of so many problems that the American façade of perfection is quickly dissipating. The mental release that a show like The Boondocks provides is one of a kind because a lot of network shows are either afraid of or do not care enough to take on these issues. South Park is a close second, but nobody did it like The Boondocks
The Boondocks was able to perfectly bridge the gap between being funny and deadly serious, and it still has the capacity to do so much more and become much bigger than it already is.