TV Review: The Boondocks
By: Tiago Moura
This week’s episode of The Boondocks (11:30 p.m. EDT on Cartoon Network) pushed all the usual envelopes of racial stereotypes in the right way, further establishing the series as a proper heir to the sharp cultural criticism once found on Chappelle’s Show.
The Boondocks returned to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line-up after a two-year hiatus, just long enough for fans to fully digest the richness of the first season’s satire. The season one DVD even included a commentary track by the black white supremacist character Uncle Ruckus for two of the episodes (one of which drove the controversial Martin Luther King, Jr. to even raunchier heights). The show was an off-shoot of the syndicated comic strip of the same name created by Aaron McGruder, who continues to bring his comic strip characters to life on-screen with the help of a star-studded ensemble cast.
“Thank You for Not Snitching,” the third episode in this long-awaited second season of The Boondocks, starts by revisiting the vibrant irregular characters Ed Wuncler III (Charlie Murphy) and Gin Rummy (Samuel L. Jackson), two Iraq War buddies who jump at any opportunity to stir up havoc. Ed’s status as heir to the multi-billion dollar Wuncler fortune, explained in several episodes of the first season, protects them from the consequences of every mess they make. The duo comes in contact with Huey and Riley (both voice-acted by Regina King) when they steal Granddad’s prized suped-up ride. Riley, who wants to show off the spinning rims on his bicycle throughout the episode, witnesses the theft but decides to “not be a snitch.” When caught, nothing happens to Ed and Gin, of course, and they instead opt to steal Riley’s bicycle instead.
Similar to many first-season episodes of The Boondocks, Huey’s voice narrates the bulk of “Thank You for Not Snitching.” In this episode, an older-sounding but still grade school-aged Huey explores the stereotype that “black people don’t snitch” with his regularly precocious and self-styled “black revolutionary” tone.
Riley appears in his best form as a foil to Huey’s revolutionary idealism. His tendency to abide by the rules that the show wants to subvert makes him come out on the losing end, but as the most distinct character of the show, Riley keeps the main story interesting. By the end, he comes off simply as a kid who doesn’t know how to deal with his disillusionment, much like in episodes from the first season (most notably in the episode where he terrorizes the local mall’s Santa Clause in retribution for the gifts he never received when his family was poor).
This episode does not deliver enough from the edgiest characters like Uncle Ruckus, whose caricatured voice is usually quick to offer a ridiculously off-color racial slur. Even with his limited appearance, however, Ruckus manages to squeeze in a few mouth-covering comments about how a black person shouldn’t ever touch a white person. Even the conversations between Ed and Gin seemed toned down compared to the first season, though their dialogue is littered with bleeped obscenities. But Jackson and Murphy’s hilarious chemistry allows these recurring characters and their stock jokes to entice new viewers to join the second season without having to watch the first.
The Boondocks came back this season with much smoother and cleaner animation than the first season. It is reassuring to know through this week’s episode, as well as the two previous ones, that a bigger budget and better animation did not stunt the show’s often raunchy satire. The Boondocks continues to bring to life characters and racial issues on the television with the same ease and hilarity of its earlier season.