Family Values: The Boondocks Returns Tonight

We’re about 6 hours away from the premiere of the third and what is said to be the final season of Aaron McGruder’s animated series, “The Boondocks”. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it is some of the most irreverent, yet poignant mix of satirical social commentary ever to be placed in a 30-minute format and presented for public consumption. McGruder created the show as a comic strip while at the University of Maryland, moved on to hip hop magazine “The Source” and subsequently became syndicated in newspapers across the country before the television show was developed and contracted to air on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

“The Boondocks” revolves around 10-year-old Huey, his 8-year-old brother Riley and their grandfather, Robert Jebidiah Freeman as they encounter a culture shock upon a move from Chicago to the suburban Woodcrest and are forced to adjust to life outside the city and in the mixed company of Caucasians and bourgeoisie Blacks. Their new neighborhood includes the DuBois’ (Tom, Sara, and daughter Jazmine), an interracial couple and their biracial daughter. Ed Wuncler III and his partner-in-crimes (many crimes) Gin Rummy, but they’re never prosecuted for any of these crimes because Ed’s grandfather, Ed Wuncler Sr. pretty much owns the town. During season 2, rapper Thugnificent and his Lethal Interjection crew, Macktastic and Flonominal, moved into the neighborhood.

The most intriguing character on the show is Uncle Ruckus (no relation), an older Black man that wants nothing to do with anything associated with Blackness. He’s a self-hating, self-loathing character in the vain of minstrel show players and praises the White man for everything, the foliage to the way their hygiene after using the bathroom. He seems to long for the days of slavery and segregation, when he claims Niggas were better off and maintains that he’s been inflicted with re-vitilago (the opposite of what Michael Jackson had), which is the only way his dark skin can be explained.

Ruckus is a mix of generations of Black folks that have failed to embrace the beauty of our culture and is prominent amongst the shows targets as it examines African-American culture and lifestyle, as well as American politics and pop culture with a fine toothed comb, as previous episodes have featured topics such as: the generational gap within the African-American community, the stop snitchin’ campaign, poor eating habits, anti-intellectualism, gangsta rap, homophobia, interracial marriage, materialism, sexism and incorporates various other anecdotes as criticisms about African-Americans in the context of American lifestyle while liberally using profanity and almost featuring the use of the word “Nigga”.

Of course any show that tackles such subject matter is not going to be without its criticisms and controversy, as Time magazine named it 5th on its list of most controversial cartoons of all-time and Al Sharpton (who recurring character Rollo Goodlove is loosely based on) has called the series to task for its use of the “n-word” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other characters. Controversy aside, the show is doing what many others fail to do, holding the mirror up for folks to take a look into. During season 2, Cartoon Network refused to air two episodes that were part of McGruder’s ongoing beef with BET, “The Hunger Strike” and “The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show” were two shows that depicted BET as trying to destroy African-Americans and could only be found on the DVD release of the season.

The show stars the voices of Regina King and John Freeman, but recurring guest stars include, Ed Asner, Charlie Murphy, Mos Def, Cee-Lo, Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Katt Williams, and Busta Rhymes amongst others as they continue to introduce characters as the story arc takes its cues from the headlines. With the election of President Obama, the spectacle that became of Michael Jackson’s death, BET’s continued downward spiral, the rise of Reality TV and so many world events in the past two and a half years, there’s plenty of material for McGruder to cram into the next three months and plenty of people for him to make uncomfortable, but one thing’s for sure…I’ll be watching!

Tune in tonight at 11:30 on The Cartoon Network to judge for yourself.

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