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.