Snap Judgment: 'The Boondocks'

15454__boondocks_lI really wanted to like The Boondocks because I wanted to see Aaron McGruder translate his righteous, satirical fury from the funny pages into TV form. Unfortunately, the discipline forced on McGruder by his daily strip, which requires a joke or a barbed observation every three panels, is missing from his half-hour episodes.

If you’ve read a typical review of the show, you’ve already heard all the jokes and satirical points made in the first couple episodes. Someone — I don’t know if it’s McGruder or The Man at Cartoon Network — seems to think that Adult Swim viewers just want potty humor and crude language, even though the point of last night’s garden-party episode is that it’s impossible now to shock the bourgeoisie.

The strip has certainly had its offensive moments, too, but what makes it funny is McGruder’s inventively absurd satirical tactics, like back when young firebrand Huey tried to stop the war by finding a date online for Condoleezza Rice. The show has some moments like that, as when Granddad demonstrates that you can pacify an angry white man by offering him cheese. There are some other neat touches, like naming the wealthy landlord Mr. Wuncler, after the rapacious industrialist of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, or having Granddad’s Showgirls-inspired girlfriend in the second episode shop at a boutique called Guccione. That kind of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it humor is rampant in The Simpsons or Family Guy, and it’s one element of Boondocks‘ transition to a new medium that’s an advantage the show’s creators should exploit more.

What did you think of last night’s premiere of The Boondocks?


Comments (49 total) Add your comment
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  • roqstar

    I loved it. In the words of another fan: If white people own the White House, Congress, and the entire business world, the least they could do is give us (everybody else) a 22 minute animated show.

  • EP Sato

    Despite poor reviews, I hope the show will excell. The comic strip took nearly a year to find it’s feet and come up with some of its funniest storylines (anyone remember when Maplewood Terrace was changed to Tupac Shakur Avenue?). This is a new medium for MgGruder, who may have watched a lot of anime, but is having his first turn directing one. Sorry for my blah thoughts this time, but last night’s episode is still waiting for me on tivo. Thanks to EW’s recommendation, I have been at home playing “the Warriors” for the PS2 nonstop…

  • Josh

    I missed it (my roommate’s dog was having a seizure… I’m not kidding), but just have to say: What the heck is up with the teaser on the EW homepage saying ‘Why ‘Boondocks’ might work better as a comic strip.’ Did the headline writer not realize that it already is a comic strip? It’s clearly referenced in Mr. Susman’s entry, but the teaser is just all wrong!

  • Ed

    I meant it works better JUST as a comic strip, but I’ll change it to make it clearer… thanks, Josh!

  • Josh

    I get the way it was used now, just a bit unclear in the headline… thanks

  • Pete

    It just isn’t that funny. Being edgy is usless if it takes the place of being funny, which it did. I laughed 5 times a smuch in half the time when I cuaght the episode of birdman after it.

  • Todd

    Since the Columbus Dispatch refused to print Boondocks in the central Ohio market, I never read much of it. Since catching much of it online, I’ve become a big fan. With that said, I was rather indifferent towards the show. I wanted to like it and as was pointed out, there were moments of brilliance (the cheese, for instance) but it’s just not quite there yet. It seemed more like a overly-shocking pre-emptive strike against the critics. I just hope it survives long enough to find a better balance.

  • Amber

    LOVED IT. I thought that it was smart and funny. Definitely a breath on fresh air. McGruder is unapologetically honest and I love that. I’m tired of writers dancing around the issues. I haven’t seen anything this honest and funny since Chris Rock’s stand-up. It’s very entertaining. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

  • Brad

    Didn’t work for me. Go back to the drawing board, literally. The comic works much better than the show. I will not be watching.

  • newscoma

    I loved it. Who can make a valid judgement after one show? It takes time to build things up. I thought it was funny, Regina King’s voiceovers for Riley and Huey were wonderful and I think it has a lot of potential. I really think anything that is so liberally political these days tends to get hammered before it ever gets out of the gate. Keep it up McGruder. As a forty-year-old white liberal, I think you have what it takes to be the next Trudeau … or for that matter, what every you want to be.

  • eagles_arrows

    The Boondocks is a favorite comic strip of mine and I loved how it was portrayed in the small screen. Even if it doesn’t have the humor you’d expect from Family Guy, it’s still a worthy show to watch and definitely brings up alot of controversy.

  • Eddie

    I used to enjoy the Boondocks comic strip. It started out witty and it was topical without being too preachy from the left. Now, I feel the strip is more mean spirited and outright racist. I know that its “cool” these days to make fun of white people but MaGruder is really overdoing it these days. Havent seen the show yet but I plan on it. Hopefully its not as hateful as the strip.

  • demonbox

    The show didn’t really work for me, in that there was nothing fresh or exciting about it… the very reasons I love the comic strip. That said, unless were discussing Temptation Island or Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, one episode is far too early in it’s development to write the show off. First episodes often suck. And while this one didn’t suck, it wasn’t all that far from it. I’ll gladly keep wathcing, but it’ll have to hook me in the next 2 episodes, at least somewhat…

  • Q

    Poor, poor Eddie. He’s in for quite a shock.
    Loved the show, btw.

  • anghus

    Thought the show was terrible. McGruder will never be anything other than a footnote, i.e. the guy who did that racial cartoon that translated terribly to a tv show. Boondocks has it’s moments as a strip, but the tv show just doesn’t have the timing or rhythym of shows like the Simpsons, South Park or even something as simple as Family Guy. Hell, even Clerks – the Cartoon had more laughs. When you see one of the kids saying ‘Ronald Reagen was the devil’ and ‘The Government lied about 9-11′, you quickly realize that McGruder and his staff have something relevant to say, but lack a relevant way to say it. Having your characters use the N Word and bitch about conservatives or rich white people is hardly revolutionary, and McGruder aren’t subtle or funny enough to make a point while making you laugh, and that it the show’s massive failure.

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