Ric’s Netflix Picks: “The Boondocks”

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“Excuse me! Everyone, I have a brief announcement to make…”

“Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11.”

Welcome to Woodcrest, a white-washed town with few minorities that is home to the Freemans, an African-American family originating from the south side of Chicago. The series’ protagonist, Huey Freeman, is a ten-year-old boy with a poor disposition and wisdom far beyond his years. He supports various radical organizations and outspokenly rejects mainstream gangsta-influenced black culture. Then there’s his younger brother Riley, who is infatuated with being a thug and idolizes numerous rappers. Robert Freeman — a.k.a. Grandad — is the patriarch of the family and wants nothing more than for his grandchildren to have a better life than he did, even if he has to whip out his belt and beat it into them. Together with a supporting cast of other stereotypes, these three explore a huge range of controversial sociocultural issues.

Cartoon Network‘s The Boondocks, based on the comic of the same name by Aaron McGruder, is one of the most satirically serious and unabashedly in-your-face cartoons I have ever seen. Some people think South Park is the king of animated controversy, but I would disagree. Besides its gratuitous use of the N-word, the show makes a mockery of hypocrisies in both black and white culture. Wrapped in a blanket of parody lies a deep, thought-provoking show.

The visual style is pretty consistent with the comic strip, which is great for long time readers. As for the animation, it plays a careful balance between American cartoon and Japanese anime. The character’s emotions are exorbitantly exaggerated, and there’s a lot of samurai-influenced imagery and actual karate included.

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Black Samurai

Regina King does double duty as she voices both the thoughtful Huey and rambunctious Riley. Grandad is voiced by John Witherspoon, known for the Friday series. Gary Anthony Williams plays the most abrasive and memorable of the secondary characters, Uncle Ruckus, a self-hating African-American who believes the only mistake that white people have made was ending slavery. Included in the recurring cast are Charlie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Edward Asner, Carl Jones, Mos Def and John C. McGinley. Pimp My Ride host, rapper Xzibit, also makes an appearance as himself.

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Uncle Ruckus

Despite the fact that season three ended in 2010, only the first two seasons of The Boondocks are currently available on Netflix. It is a quick 28 episodes that will leave you wanting more. I have been eagerly awaiting the long rumored fourth season, due out April 2014. Be sure to watch, and check out the newest season when it comes out!

Rating:

4.2 out of 5.0

Samuel L. Jackson reprises a familiar scene from Pulp Fiction:

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UPDATE 04/20/14: Season two is now available on Netflix Instant.

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