The Boondocks

By Rina Weaver

Adult Swim’s normal lineup of wacky cartoons and nihilistic sketch comedy was interrupted in 2005 by a smart, controversial, and lavishly animated rendition of The Boondocks. The show followed the lives of the Freeman family, including Huey Freeman, a bright, educated, bitingly hilarious young man; his younger brother Riley, a wannabe hardcore rapper; and their grandfather, Granddad, a cranky war veteran who didn’t share either boy’s worldview. The African-American family lived in Woodcrest, a largely white suburban area (the Boondocks) in which creator Aaron McGruder could analyze, critique, and intellectually trash politics, racial relations, and public figures and popular culture, particularly African-American pop culture. 

Based on a comic strip by Aaron McGruger, “The Boondocks” picks up where “The Simpsons” and “South Park” leave off—race. “The Boondocks,” is an African-American version of “Doonesbury” that is, if anything, more politically heated. The animated version of “The Boondocks” is a jolt of shock therapy, especially in the intensively colorblind world of television. 

McGruder is unrelenting in his attacks on politicians and celebrities of all races, including President Bush, Sean Combs, Robert Johnson, and the founder of Black Entertainment Television.   A week after Rosa Parks’ death, the cartoonist dubbed over a joke about the civil rights activist in an episode mocking R&B singer R. Kelly’s legal troubles. His supporters, including Ms. Parks, engage into a street battle with his more upper-class opponents. In the original, a frenzied R. Kelly fan slams a chicken leg into Ms. Parks and cries, “Sit down! That’s what you’re known for, anyway.”

“The Boondocks” is one of the few programs for young people that deals with race in such a bold and confrontational way. Many other television shows for the young attempt to portray race in the safest way possible..  “The Boondocks” is the one show that revels in the taboos.