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The Boondocks Came Back With Record Ratings, But What Happened To Our Show?

After what seemed like ages (really only 4 years) The Boondocks made its triumphant return to Adult Swim, putting all manner of fans and stans into a frenzy. Enough of one in fact, to incite a record-setting ratings spike, blowing out primetime staples like NBC’s The Voice and even the NBA Playoffs with a  whopping 1.4 millions viewers in the 18-34 demographic alone. An impressive return to the spotlight for what was once very much a cult-only following. But at what cost my dear patrons? Those that tuned in at 10:30pm Monday saw a show that merely resembled the spectacle Aaron McGruder conceived and brought to the masses. On its face.

Once the first thirty seconds of the fourth and final season’s premiere episode “Pretty Boy Flizzy” (watch below) played through, it was blatantly apparent to this Okayplayer that the moment we had all feared was upon us. Namely, that Aaron McGruder’s pen was in fact the blade that cut deepest. The sharp, poignant and (most importantly) relevant cultural commentary that we had come to expect from McGruder’s brainchild had been supplanted by a droll and bland mockery of our tradition’s most cherished voice of dissent. The one guy that was gonna look at the way things were and feed us that bitter pill of truth in a way that we could all swallow. But, shit. I think they even tried to posit a defense of Chris Brown on this thing.

The episode centered itself on the criminal mishaps of one Pretty Boy Flizzy, clearly modeled after the somewhat talented and inexplicably famous platinum blonde we all know as Chris Brown and his own run-ins with the law. We were forced to bear witness to Flizzy’s improprieties as he consistently let down his fans in a series of terribly obvious blunders involving the beating of his girlfriend, the robbing of a convenience store and scuffling in the VIP with another major r&b star. While the show does a decent job of putting the burden of responsibility onto Flizzy’s (Breezy’s) shoulders, they essentially provide him with a cop-out in the end, chalking up all of these very public incidents to his lack of ability to stay relevant.

So if we can extrapolate a life lesson from the story arc of this episode, it’s this: If you’re a public figure in the hip-hop community and you happen to have a rap-sheet as tall as your walk-up, that’s OK…as long as you’re tactical about creating those spectacles as part of some grand marketing ploy. Really, people? Aside from picking literally the smallest speck on the windshield to go after, you choose that as your lead-off? Your Season Premiere and don’t-call-it-a-comeback? Has nothing else happened that strikes you as even marginally more relevant than what Chris Fine Motherfvckin China Brown has failed to accomplish in the past five years? Miley’s take-over? Obama’s reelection? Hell, Fukoshima? Yeah, starting things off with Trayvon probably would have been a bit heavy, but Chris Brown though? Really?

I was someone who truly believed that we should all reserve our judgement on what a show of this nature could be like without its architect. There were indications that McGruder’s involvement on Season 3 was somewhat hands off, with no dire results. Even post-McGruder Team Boondocks contains some voices we know and trust (up to and including Okayplayer co-founder Angela Nissell), who has a co-writer credit on this episode). But having tasted the pudding, this viewer is forced to conclude that the early-bird naysayers scored a rare victory on this one. Luckily, we’ve long known that McGruder’s no one-trick nothing, developing his Black Jesus webisode series into a full-length series where he will take to his throne once more as one of hip-hop pop culture’s most pivotal voices. If this premiere is an indication of life after McGruder on The Boondocks, then it’s a sad, sad loss folks. One that I will long mourn, but with McG putting his wits to work on a project that seems truly worth its weight, there’s still hope for us to see the champion resurrected in a new avatar. So here’s to Black Jesus. R.I.P. Huey, Riley and Grandpa Freeman. You will be sorely missed.

Comments

  • skitchbeatz

    :-/

  • Chris

    It wasn’t that bad, I thought it went quite well with the previous seasons.

    • GasaiYuno

      That’s because it was a mash-up of episodes from other seasons lol. I don’t think it did. The content of making fun of a celebrity sure, but not the script. Not the way things were said or done.

  • Queezadilla

    1. It seems a bit excessive to hit the show with an RIP after a SINGLE episode.

    2. The episode used Chris Brown as a vehicle to move the idea of what makes a man. Flizzy and Tom are juxtaposed as the “frumpy everyman” and the pretty boy with the “thin veneer of toughness.” Both are flawed individuals, but Tom finds himself emasculated by his wife because he doesn’t fit the mold of the dangerous pretty boy. The episode ends with a fabricated altercation between the two men that results in Tom getting back with his wife, implicating that men often engage in such behavior to gain the attention of women. To completely gloss over that aspect of the episode in the name of declaring the series dead is baffling (and also debunks that “no life lesson” point there).

    3. Speaking of, you are aware that not every episode of this show is some after-school special, right? I don’t recall criticism of the lack of social issues present in episodes like Let’s Nab Oprah, Home Alone, Shinin’, … Or Die Trying, etc. Bit odd that the focus seems to be to immediately discredit the show now that Aaron McGruder isn’t present.

    4. Again, this is ONE EPISODE. I can see if you found the jokes tired, or if you found this to be a rehash of the Tom, Sarah, and Usher episode. This here is knee-jerk.

    • OH YEAHHH

      Such is hip-hop mentality. One “okay” single, and the fans say you “fell off.” Eh.

    • Soldierkei

      Been 5 now….so I think it’s safe to say they fell off now

    • GasaiYuno

      Thank you.

    • Ugo Crazy

      When i saw that first episode, i somewhat felt a lack of “soul” maybe ? It felt bland, maybe the rhythm, i dunno… But like you i was not going to burn them with one episode.
      Now that we got five, what do you make of it ?
      I for one am disappointed it still truly lacks something that was in the previous seasons and i cant put my finger on it =/

    • The Truth Yo

      yup but after these past few episodes, i have had less of a desire to watch the boondocks now. we Need Mcgruder

  • milquetoast

    Did you proof read that third paragraph at all? How many times can you type “MacGruder” when his name is McGruder? You even spelled it right earlier in the essay. And Aaron is not the “archetype” of the Boondocks, perhaps you meant the “architect.” And why is “victory” crossed out to be replaced by nothing? Misplaced closed parenthesis after Angela’s name? Do better.

    • http://www.okayplayer.com Eddie “STATS”

      Typos corrected. 2 of the typos you mentioned were not typos–Ms. Nissell’s mention is a parenthetical aside with both ()s. speaking as the editor, not the author, I believe that ‘victory’ with a strike through it indicates that when earlybird haters turn out to be right, it’s more of a zero sum game than an actual victory. – ed.

  • 2012Industry1

    Honestly, this article sucks! I bet if you didn’t know about McGruder not being there you would have loved it. The show was fine, and it was only the 1st episode. Stop looking for something to be wrong that’s not. Stop writing actually!

    • Soldierkei

      Been 5 now. Safe to say any criticism people have on the season aren’t as premature now. And yeah….s’not great

    • GasaiYuno

      I didn’t know he was gone from it until after the episode and I didn’t like it at all. There are LOTS of people who did not like the episode at all why are you trying to make it seem like all of those opinions are invalid? Even the people defending it just say “don’t write it off yet, it’s only one episode” they never say they actually liked the episode themselves.

  • jd

    This article is reaching. Calm down. Its a long season bro.

    • Pharaoh Red

      Agreed. its 9 more episodes dont write off the show just yet. Pull your skirt down ZO

  • Juwan Dickerson

    See this right here why we ain’t free.

    From what I watched the show is still as funny and relevant and satirical as it was before. Point a finger to pop culture and society and turning it upside down and making us look at it in a different light and also entertaining us. At least me. The show was not forgiving at all to the Chris Brown substitute regardless of why the Flizzy character did the thing that he did it was still portrayed as problematic and his comeuppance or lack thereof mirrors the lack of comeuppance that the real life Flizzy characters not just Chris Brown have been given. Portraying it in this slapstick and ludicrous way only goes to show how ridiculous it really is for folks to continue to support those problematic figures.

    I’m not looking for this show to have Keenon Ivory Waynes to pop out of the bushes every segment and shout “MESSAGE” nor should it be heavy handed and beat you over the head with it’s theme. The primary goal for The Boondocks is to entertain and they have at least to me succeeded in doing that and I was able to extrapolate the message behind the satire. I admit it wasn’t the MLK episode or the R. Kelly episode from seasons past but it was a good start to the season.

    Perhaps it’s time for you to just change the channel and move on.

    • Justis

      One

  • Pharoh Red

    Agreed. its 9 more episodes dont write off the greatest cartoon show just yet. Pull your skirt down ZO!!!!

  • http://www.about.me/KNZO KNZO

    i don’t think zo understands comedic satire…

  • Jeff Rittenour

    Did you even watch this episode? LMAO

  • Stone Phalanges

    I felt the episode was redundant somewhat as it hit many of the same notes as the R kelly episode and the episode with usher, but other than that it was decent. Good even.

  • brianvaxter

    Here’s a question. (ok two) What if you didn’t know McGruder wasn’t involved? Would you be so quick to bash it? Hmm

    • Soldierkei

      You can tell from the writing though, he’s not there. I didn’t know he was gone until episode 3, because it just did not have the wit, or hilarious writing of the previous seasons, at first, I just thought it was natural progression, because I thought season 1 was eat, season two great but not my favorite, and season 3 was good. But the downgrade in quality was too much, I had to look up what the deal was. No coincidence, McGruder wasn’t apart of it. So yes, is think his absence caused a huge blow to the show’s quality, and it was noticeable.

    • GasaiYuno

      Thank you!

  • Barnes

    its only been 4 years. Season 3 premiered in 2010.

  • CharlyWhorse

    Seems like my comment got deleted for saying the show has turned wack because of the WHITE MAN!

    • memoryman00

      True, to a point. But even a black man could ruin it.
      Basically, without Aaron McGruder and his story telling, it just hasn’t been the same

  • Mista Wiz

    I dont recall a funny moment at all in the 1st episode..just wasnt feelin it..and aside from 1 track, the mixtape is horrible!

  • Los G.

    Not in love with the art direction but it’s just as funny as always, lol

  • Renee

    Wow, that was the most Talking I have heard from white people on this show. And that was in the first 3 minutes of this episode.

    • quincyjrue

      lmap

  • quincyjrue

    ur stupid! it was prett good.

  • GasaiYuno

    My biggest problem with the Pretty Boy Flizzy episode was just that it was soo unoriginal. It reminded me too much of the Usher episode and the A Pimp Named Slickback episode where he “helps” Tom. There was nothing different and after 4 years of waiting… people are gonna talk. How can any of you expect people not to say anything after they’ve been waiting for something for literally years and it’s not what they remembered it to be? I also thought it was stupid how the episode was about Chris Brown. Like, that’s something that could’ve been in season 3 and even then they would’ve been giving old news. Furthermore, if someone wants to write off this season then it’s their loss (or not). Why even try to convince someone otherwise or try to make them feel some type of way about it? Personally, I’m done with it at this point. I’m gonna see how I like Black Jesus and watch Boondocks re-runs.

  • datroofhomez

    The final season = New Coke.

  • http://tinyurl.com/3d3btuy Belize

    The freedom EPs was the last straw…I honesty gave it hope but there is 0 Social commentary whatsoever just an excuse to use stereotypes for reg jokes. Rather enjoy loiter squad..at least I know what I am watching

  • Boogiebaby

    This season’s episodes actually have greater replay value than the previous 3 seasons. Re-watch the episodes and then comeback at me.

    • datroofhomez

      Did just that & it was painful. It’s like the writing is trying to rein in what made the show great, because some people were “offended”.

    • Boogiebaby

      I aint tryna convince you, but I think the writing is edgier and more focused on examining black culture. In this season they’ve KILLED Kim Kardashian from butt injections, addressed how celebrities will do anything for press, how capitalism will have a man who was a “freedom rider” subject to selling his body in his old age, and shown how if you have a job you may just be a “new slave”, if you think they are afraid of offending someone I think you aren’t watching what I’m watching. their is food for thought this season and they’ve delineated 1 central theme throughout the whole season, which made it more like real life instead of just a string of random events. This season is ill because its deep. Respect.

    • I Miss Aaron

      Did you watch the Freedomland episode??? That was terrible. They spent the majority of the episode making lazy, racist jokes that were not at all funny and then in the last two minutes had Huey say something “deep”. No. At least the jokes made under Aaron McGruder were biting racial satire. Last night’s episode was just wrong. This is not even the same show anymore.

    • Boogiebaby

      What I’am about to say will make you completely disagree with me, but Freedomland episode was my favorite episode yet! lol. Seriously! You don’t think how they addressed the 1%, processed food, mindless television, corporate greed, how the 99% is willingly used by the 1%, and how we as the 99% can change that was something that needed to be TV? And was not worth us as a people watching? I dont know my G I guess we have to agree to disagree because aside from Boondocks all I see on tv is doom, gloom and buffoons. Let me ask you this question what did you think about the Yeezus cd?

    • I Miss Aaron

      I don’t totally disagree with you! I actually LOVED the Yeezus album for touching on issues that need to be addressed, but aren’t (such as the prison industrial complex and the 99% being enslaved by consumer culture). My issue with this latest season of The Boondocks (and the Freedomland episode in particular) is that the balance struck in previous seasons between exposing issues, generating thoughtful discussion, and actually making people laugh their asses off seems to be lacking. Yes, they tried to address several issues in Freedomland and I commend them for doing so, when so many others on TV just peddle us mindless garbage. However, that doesn’t excuse the fact that this episode was just no bueno. It wasn’t as smart, thought-provoking, or even funny as past episodes. It relied heavily on base racism for cheap laughs and the characters seemed very one dimensional. Sure, they were saying things that don’t often get the attention that they deserve in the media, but the way in which they were saying them did the series a disservice. The very real and important issues got lost in the weak writing and ineffective comedy. The Boondocks has always addressed issues, just usually with better success than this.

    • Boogiebaby

      I’m with you there is something about the comedic timing that’s lacking… I personally think its the vocals others agree that the writing is off. I will say this though I prefer a TV world with the Boondocks than one without it.

    • datroofhomez

      Butt injections are real, but it wasn’t covered enough by the MSM. Some people may think that one is just a joke. It would have been nice if it was examined as to why people do that to themselves, & why the culture causes them to do it. Have you seen the pictures of people who have fix a flat injected in to their faces? That’s mental illness. It wasn’t Capitalism that had him selling out, it was him thinking there was an easy way out for his self-inflicted money problems. If they want to play the “1% & rich white man”, they need to show that it is both the Republicans & Democrats. One party is what it is, & the other party pretends to be not what it is, for votes & to stay in power. As for a job & being a new slave, McDonalds, the other FF plantations, & places like Walmart, have always been there. Nothing ever really changes, just the appearance of it does.

    • Boogiebaby

      Butt injections are definitely a problem and “urban” culture would do well to stop praising them on blog sites. I think Boondocks did a great job showing the mental illness associated with self-alteration. They showed a line of “attention thirsty” females in a sketch alley about to get injections from a sketch doctor, and then they showed Kim’s butt exploding! They showed how everything around Kim was fake and even though it appears she lives a charmed life really she has nothing of value. At the end of the episode Grand slips Kim’s jewelry off of her wrist, which is symbolically saying everything she sold her soul for she can’t take with her in death, so if people didn’t gather that from the episode I dont know how much more the show can do. I venture to say that it is capitalism because if he lived in a socialist society he wouldn’t have to worry about paying back Ed (bank) for his home. I’m not saying there is a problem with capitalism, I love it. I’m not saying Granddad isn’t looking for a quick way out… but I mean he is 80, has 2 young grandkids, is homeless, and owes Ed millions I would say he’s pretty desperate. I think the point they’re trying to make is Granddad worked all of his life he even played a part in blacks obtaining equal rights, but he’s been subjected to “escorting”, working as a slave at a theme park and stealing because he can’t find a good job. Also you can be a slave at a good government job or even a fortune 500 company. If you dont do what you love and call your own shots and have “freedom” then you are somewhat a slave.

    • datroofhomez

      Or maybe Granddad is just sketchy like that? He’s done, or been involved in other questionable things before. Stealing from a corpse would fit right in.

      What if there was an episode that played out with Grandad telling the kids to pack up, that he was defaulting on the loan? Like so many people did after the housing crash, either because they lost a job, or because they just refused to pay for what they believed was a house of lesser value? Huey could have lectured him on doing the right thing & taking responsibility for what happened, with something happening to Granddad, like always, to impress the point upon him that Huey is right once again.

  • GracieLou

    Im typing this as I finish watching the”freedomland” episode. I too was an avid watcher and also a “just wait, its going to get better” fan. It has not. After this episode , Im more offended than anything. It is no longer an excellent satire but a mockery. They are no longer laughing with us but at us. There is nothing smart or witty about this show any longer. It is only a cartoon version of all the reality shows exploiting black people. Please rename it Maury presents ” Basketball and hip hop coons of Atlanta”. White people will think its even funnier. For those who think that it is just as funny, I charge you to say its funny when someone calls you the n word and pulls out a whip all in the name in comedy. Pay attention. This is not on accident.

    • I Miss Aaron

      ^ EXACTLY.

    • Basil Malik

      my thoughts exactly

    • anão

      Chillout bro, Uncle Ruckus was always a racist and there were non-black slaves in Freedomland, even Jews!
      The show wasn’t ruined because they show Uncle Ruckus whipping the main characters, but because the writing SUCKS ASS, because the show is stupid now at days, because it is lacking on it’s old black humour and sharp commentaries. Now it is a satire of what it was supposed to be, a shallow copy.
      “Pay attention, this is not on accident”? There’s no conspiracy here man, it’s just stupid writers thinking that stupid story arch of granddad going broke and becoming a indebted slave was somehow funny or relevant to 2014 America.

    • CatchaFreeman

      They had black people in the crowd of patrons… This show has gone down the drain as fast as soon as this season started.

    • Jason

      This show hasn’t been smart or witty since the first season. The second season was the sell out point where it became commercial and one huge nigga joke chock full of rapper guest stars, and the third was atrocious. I was honestly shocked it made it back for this season. And the last part of your comment- I noticed this trend happening when Southern rap took over.

    • Mesjasz Kowalski

      “White people will think its even funnier”. Really? This kind of comment tells a lot about you…What my race have to do with sense of humor or appreciating intelligent social commentary? Because I’m not a part of US black culture? I’m not part of US white culture either. I’m not even an American, I’m Polish and Boondocks was one of my favorite US cartoons. Was. Right from the beginning the 4th season felt like a cheap copy or even unintentional parody of the real show (I didn’t know that McGruder left). The form is there, the music, drawing, martial arts ect. But there is nothing beneath that anymore, a hollow shell. It’s a sad end for one of the best american cartoons.

    • datroofhomez

      Black US culture teaches black children that they are victims as soon as they are young enough to understand. I can’t say for sure that it only happens to one race, in one country, out of the whole world, but if there are others, it’s a very small club.

    • Hudson Hedge

      I’m so white that my skin blinds people in the night (I’m German ans Irish from a suburban middle class 1 parent family, so I’m almost as white as they come), but I don’t really find it funny anymore, or really entertaining. I miss the witty yet funny commentary of “The Trial of R. Kelly,” “The S-word,” ” The Hunger Strike,” “The Fund Raiser,” or “A Date with the Health Inspector,” but it just isn’t there in this season. Also both Huey and Riley are extremely different from past seasons and no longer have the same relationship with each other. Huey use to be very insightful, cynical, and was a political activist, now it seems that he can only utter short phrases to tell someone not to do something. Riley is no longer a rapper wannabe and seems much less rebellious than he did in prior seasons. It just isn’t funny anymore

  • Robert Almeved

    White person here (If it matters). I’ve been watching boondocks from the start, it featured enormous originality, quality and wildly unpredictable. It was such a deep-layered show, I came back watching the same episodes over and over again, not only for the great humour, but for the reason of finding deep symbology, and clever social commentary.

    As I watched first episode of season 4, I noticed it was unfunny, lacked what it used to have in every aspect, but brushed it off as a weak start of the season, and It would pick up in later episodes. I was wrong. It goes 10 minutes completly devoid of any humorous elements, it’s one sided and boring.

    On top of that, I’ve noticed a very flat social commentary, mostly consisting in uncle ruckes turning from early seasons great satire, with truthful elements of black culture, to boringly, flat racism. The whole show is extremely one sided and lost its brilliance, no underlying messages, just incredibly boring.

    After watching Freedomsland episode, I realize the show is nothing but shallow race-baiting, and cheap propaganda. White People = Evil, black people = Victims, most episodes in season 4 looks exactly the same.

    This show has lost all it’s power, it’s uncreative and boring, I rarely drop a show from my watchlist, but Boondocks goes into the trash.

    • I Miss Aaron

      It’s because they don’t have McGruder writing any longer. Whoever has taken up the reigns clearly isn’t giving as much attention (if any) to the deeper social commentary aspects that Aaron did and that’s a damn shame because that was what made The Boondocks an epic show that could be appreciated by all races.

    • Datignantmofo

      you hit the nail on the head buddy

  • datroofhomez

    The social commentary used to be Huey repremanding his brother & grandfather for not making an effort to get ahead, & committing the stereotype acts that he disdained. It taught people to see how others viewed the black community in the US. The writers had a huge opportunity to make a statement & to educate. They knew it was the final season, so anything they did wasn’t going to kill the show off. They blew it.

  • Mary Sue

    Okay, this show is horrible now. It’s extremely insulting and demeaning. It was never that way in the past. I’ve watched four episodes to try to give it a chance and I agree with the author of this article. RIP Riley family.

  • mrkushman ha

    and this is supposed to be the last season

  • itsme

    Yeah I haven’t really liked none of the episodes.

  • yomyniggawassuptho

    Yea, I just watched this, it’snot that bad. It’s explaining why we react to shit like this, it even referenced R-Kelly. It used Pretty Boy to show how it is actually profitable to act like this and how we the fans perpetuate it. You think Miley would be shaking what she believes is an ass if people didn’t react the way they do? It was also a way to show the contrast between the way people react to a well mannered Tom and the idiocy of Pretty Boi. The point in the end was actually a bit of a slight on women, educated or otherwise.If anything condemn the episode for that…..however i found what I saw to be pretty accurate IN SOME CASES as far as boredom goes.

  • datroofhomez

    “The New Black” had a good plot, but something just went wrong. Maybe the story took too long to develop & could have used an extra half hour? The Gay Mafia displaced the Race Hustlers, & it was amusing to watch them play the Race Card versus the Queer Card. Initially they went right for the money, like causing trouble for people is some kind of job. Then instead of leaving because there was no financial gain, they try to save face. What’s disappointing is that they never went off with an Obama, Holder, Clinton, Pelosi, Jackson-Lee, Reid, Wasserman-Schultz, etc. episode. Heck, they had enough material for a fifth season just with what’s on public record involving all of them.

  • Jaynicia

    It’s almost like the new producers killed this show on purpose…

  • VetFree2Think

    He must have hurt your feelings. Its not his fault you dont like what you see in th mirror. All the new shows are right on.

  • http://www.rockinhits.com/ JJ

    After watching 4 episodes, that was enough for me. Season 4 is not The Boondocks

  • Mikki D

    Yes (T.T) R.I.P Huey, Riley, and Granddad…in my eyes the fourth season never happened because the lovely McGruder never made it. *cries* sniff, sniff at least there’s the amazing three seasons that are still around and are still going strong. *raises fists but continues to cry* lol but I really mean it.

  • DiamondPress

    No Huey isn’t giving the message as much as he once did before in seasons before this one. The irony speaks for itself in this season. I love season 4. I think some people are just feeling offended because their egos aren’t being stroked enough by certain characters in this show as it was before. There are not enough constant reminders that blacks are still the messiah in flesh to keep them comfortable with the ridicule of black and/or pop culture. Or maybe the satire presented is just going over everyone’s head. The show remains genius and reminds me that people, regardless of culture, race, and religion, really just need to take a real look at their true selves, be able to laugh, and move on.