Last Monday marked the return of The Boondocks, the controversial adult cartoon, created by Aaron McGruder. Originally a comic strip in the funny side of the newspaper, this popular series grew into a critically acclaimed animated TV show that ran from 2005-2010. The story revolves around the Freeman family, an African American family comprised of a grandfather Robert Freeman, the caretaker of his two grandsons, Huey and Riley Freeman two trouble making kids, that move into a predominately Caucasian, suburban neighborhood called Woodbury from their home in Chicago.
Like the comic strip that inspired it, The Boondocks’ real identity lies within the many underlying issues of society addressed in each episode, especially those pertaining to the African-American community. Despite its serious undertones, viewers of all races, largely due to its entertaining and light-hearted nature, have generally acclaimed it. Despite the three and a half-year long hiatus between seasons, fans’ interest has not diminished. Not too long ago, word of the fourth season and the return of crazy, racist/sexist and political humor made its way around the internets – but there was a catch. The creative mind of the original creator would not be returning with it. As I heard of this news, I instantly began to question the direction of the show. Would it be as entertaining? Would there be a subtle message behind the episodes that normally goes over the heads of the viewers? Honestly, it unnerved me a bit, but I still was excited for what will be the final season of the show.
The Season 4 debut, “Pretty Boy Flizzy,” begins with Tom Dubois, the “frumpy everyman” lawyer having marital issues with his wife, Sarah. The problem is that Tom cannot take charge and is to soft in the way he handles his everyday life. He is then kicked out of the house for the inability to pretty much be, you know, a douche (yeah, kinda made me wanna facepalm my face into the back of my head). He retreats to the Freeman residence to as he has nowhere else to go, but they are less than willing to be a shoulder to cry on. They turn off the lights, shut down the electronics and pretended to be absent from the house. A crying Tom decides to sleep on the welcome mat of their front door and slowly drifts off to sleep.
The next day, Tom goes to work and is hired to defend a famous singer/rapper “bad boy” out of his self-inflicted predicament (he robs a bank). Flizzy is depicted as a satire of musicians, primarily singer Chris Brown, who act out in a destructive manner for attention – I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories by now (thanks World Star Hip-Hop). Tom decides to not handle this case as he sees no point in protecting someone the he knows actually did the crime and obviously did not care of his fate legally. Mr. Flizzy then identifies Tom as dull and weak – a person that can be stepped on without fighting back. Flizzy then negotiates that if he teaches Tom how to be a stand up guy, Tom has to defend him in court. Tom agrees to the terms and is thrown into a cliche sitcom plot line. He goes home and tells his wife of who he was defending, which is to her excitement and Tom then accuses her of wanting to have sexual relations with him. These accusations lead to him being kicked out of his house once again. Later he spends the day being tutored on how to be a bad boy and how to “truly” treat women.
Tom then brings Flizzy home for dinner even though the Freemans warn Tom of the songs he makes pertaining to stealing wives and sleeping with them, notably “I Will Do Your Wife” and “White Wife Booty.” That night at dinner, Sarah drinks herself stupid and begins flirting with Flizzy. Angered, Tom then threatened to leave her and storms his way out of the house. The following day, Tom decides to go over the security cameras at the scene of the robbery for the case. To his surprise notices the entire thing is staged dun Dun DUUUUN!!!!! Tomthen confronts his thuggish client as to why he staged the robbery and he learns that he does this so he can keep his relevance in the music industry since the only people that gain attention, or seem to, always cause trouble, which is the key to fame and a woman’s heart. Flizzy then, after being grilled by Tom, acts a fool telling Tom that he is going to take his family away. This aggravates Tom and then he proceeds to clocking Flizzy right in his jaw. Uncle Ruckus then comes to the rescue and tackles Flizzy making a citizens arrest. Flizzy, bruised face and broken, is taken away by the valiant Ruckus; he looks at Tom and winks at him, indicating that this was all in his plan to make Tom seem tougher. The entire ordeal arouses Sarah reigniting there lust-less marriage.
Yup….that’s pretty much it. Roll credits and begin the flute solo music. Now, I was not entirely impressed by this new episode, I don’t know if it was bias of the absence of McGruder, but something seemed off. The animation was familiar, and the all-star voice-acting cast returned. Even the special guest star power was there as Michael B Jordan (The Wire, Fruitvale Station, That Awkward Moment, Fantastic Four) stole the show as Pretty Boy Flizzy. Really though, the episode “Pretty Boy Flizzy” came off as rather pedestrian. It was simply not the episode we had been waiting years for. More than anything, it served as a rehashing of the Season 2 episode “Tom, Sarah and Usher.”
There didn’t really seem to be a message either. Maybe the message was women who go for the bad boys or celebrities are desperate for attention, but none of these seemed relevant to the bigger-picture issues that The Boondocks targeted years ago. I mean, Boondocks arguably single-handedly dismantled BET (as it was). I’ve heard from many people that a lot comedy is comprised of deep philosophical points put into layman’s terms which shows like The Boondocks had a knack for, but that element has been painfully missing – dating back to the mundane third season – and I was left feeling empty when the credits started rolling. Don’t get it twisted; this definitely does not mean that one episode has turned me off from watching the rest of the season.
The second episode from Season 4 of The Boondocks airs tonight. Join us at we get ready for “Good Times” as Granddad’s money mismanagement lands him in hot water with the bank. There have been a lot of crazy social mishaps in America since the curtains closed on Season 3, and the housing collapse was one I’m happy to see be on The Boondocks’ hit-list. I still have my fingers crossed for an Ed Wuncler III cameo, and there’s some Breaking Bad-inspired hustle coming this season that I can’t wait to see.