Published on November 27th, 2012 | by Boman12l6
10 Best Episodes from The Boondocks
Since the show premiered in the fall of 2005, The Boondocks has been a favorite for many in the RapConQueso crew (Mickey Retro and Shay-J did a whole mixtape based off of the two main characters). The controversial show, since its inception, has always done a brilliant job of presenting not only black or hip-hop but American culture in a satirical fashion. It is through Aaron McGrudger’s characters we get an honest look at different American values from all walks of life. While we know a fourth season is coming, we just don’t know when it is happening. In the meanwhile, we went back over the series so far and picked out the 10 best episodes that capture The Boondocks at its best.
“Riley Wuz Here” has plenty of depth and shows there is more to Riley than just trying to be the best hoodlum he can be. Riley gets some art lessons from a local expert who is more than the average Woodcrest patron. Huey takes a back seat in this episode, spending most of his time conducting an experiment to see if watching too much black television is bad for your health.
While Huey falls deeper into madness form watching too much black tv, each night Riley sneaks out to tag up the neighborhood. Each subsequent painting becomes a more personal effort to prove that he is the artist. The car chase and final mural reveal scored to Tom Scott’s cover of “Today” by the Jefferson Airplane is absolutely beautiful.
When this episode originally aired, the R. Kelly scandal was already old news. Hell, R. Kelly wasn’t even wearing his mask anymore, still this episode found many ways to make these issues relevant again.
While R. Kelly and his peeing scandal were the main plot point, the episode constantly brings of up issues of personal responsibility. It’s true – sometimes we defend our heroes and celebrities when we shouldn’t. Huey makes a great point, if we truly care about these people, then we would call them out when they mess up, not treat them as victims. (#teambreezy) The Episode also featured excellent voice work, most notably Adam West as R. Kelly’s lawyer. There’s also Riley’s rant about personal responsibility of the victim, which itself is a Boondocks classic.
“It’s a charade, wrapped in a facade covered in a lie,” this line pretty much describes the world Uncle Ruckus has created for himself as a self-hating black man who thinks he is a true blue-eyed, white, red-blooded American male suffering from a rare condition. Still the episodes featuring Ruckus are some of the best in the series.
In this episode, Ruckus meets his soul mate, racist country super star Jimmy Rebel. Ashamed of his dark skin, Ruckus pretends to be a servant named Toby as to not disappoint his icon. It’s safe to say the antics that follow are hilarious as Ruckus (pretending to be Toby) and Rebel bond over their shared hatred of “darkies.” What makes this episode great is Jimmy Rebel’s revelation at the end. After spending time with Ruckus and inviting him to come sing on stage with him, Mr. Rebel discovers that not all racists approve of their friendship. Rebel says it himself “It does not matter that Ruckus could be the most racist among them, They will still hate him only because of his skin color.” Only with the Boondocks can a racist overcome his hate with racism.
The pre-tilde news report about the Petto incident alone makes this one of best in the series and McGruder and crew keep the ball rolling from there. The “S” Word follows the attempts of Robert and Riley trying to cash out over the mild controversy of Riley’s third grade teacher, Mr. Petto, referring to him as a “Nigga.” Another appearance by Cee-lo’s Reverend Rollo Goodlove ensures that things get blown way out of portion. Most importantly this episode birthed the celebratory booty dance.
The meta commentaries throughout this episode is what sets it apart from most in season 2. The truth is people have become desensitized to the “n” word and it variants. If black folk use the word so liberally, can we truly get upset when someone else uses it? It’s a question that gets asked over and over again, but when you have characters like Bill Crosby and Uncle Ruckus answering it, you are in for some good times.
Somehow McGruder makes his Ann Coulter more sensible and likable than the real Ann Coulter. However, it is Fred Willard’s performance as Mr. Petto that steals the show. Petto’s constant confusion and longwinded attempts to try and clear up his misunderstandings are priceless. While there is little to no action, the episode’s parodies of local news reports and T.V. debates are spot on. This episode is a prime example of music contrasting the visuals on screen. The Boondock’s score does an excellent job capturing the mundane and suburbanness of Woodcrest with its jazzy piano cords driven by rhythm bass and drums. When paired with people having a lively debate, it really does highlight how trivial some of these complaints are.
One thing about season 3, the quality of the art has gotten better. The colors are bright, the animation is smooth, the show is a joy to look at. “The Fund-Raiser”: it’s Paid in full, it”s Goodfellas, it’s Snatch, it’s hilarious. After watching all the gangster films, Riley decides to go into the business of Fund-raising to raise funds. Riley’s crew is rounded out by Jazmine, Phil, and Cindy. Together they put the candy hustle on lock.
The episode finds the right balance between the gangster films its referencing and straight up ridiculousness; hell, even The Empire Strikes back is referenced. This is possibly the most self-aware episode in the entire series. Ask anyone, the last three minutes of this episode are gold. Riley’s closing monologue is brilliant and a perfect example of sophisticated ignorance.
“The Red Ball” was a return to form for a lot of things. First, it marked the return of a dominate Huey Freeman and Ed Wuncler Sr, who had not been seen since the end of season 1. The two are the driving forces of the episode and both have knock out performances. Edward Anser as Wuncler is always stellar. When he delivers lines with forceful bravado, lines like “we’re Americans. We don’t quit just because we’re wrong. We Just keep doing the wrong thing until it turns out right,” it’s a stark reminder of what season 2 was missing. In this episode, the unlikely duo has to combine their talents to save Woodcrest from the Chinese.
This episode features the entirety of the main and supporting cast in some fashion, the animation and soundtrack are among the best in the series and the action never stops. “The Red Ball” contains all of the elements that make the Boondocks great plus it still has room for smart social commentary (US and Chinese economic relations). Huey’s ragtag kickball team may have their differences, but their union speaks a truth about most Americans – we are willing to put our differences aside, as long as it means beating foreigners in sports.
Probably one of the most controversial episodes, “Return of The King” brought the fully fury of Al Sharpton, (mad that the fictional King uses the word “nigga” in the episode), to which McGrudger would respond in the comic strip and later the show (The Block is Hot). Still, the episode stands to be one of the most thought provoking in the series. Word choice or not, McGrudger’s fictional King still did an excellent job of reminding us what King stood and fought for. His character constantly spoke to unity and non-violence while surrounded by characters like Huey and Woodcrest’s black community.
The idea of anyone waking up after thirty years could make for some unique situations; let alone it be Dr. King in Woodcrest. Much of the comedy comes from King trying to adjust to the present, while at the same time continuing to share his message of unity. Problem is, Dr King is having problems doing both.
Say what you will about the character, but the stories that feature Uncle Ruckus are some of the most interesting and thought provoking in the whole series. Facing his own mortality, Ruckus starts a revival that teaches the way to true salvation is through the hatred of black people. At the same time, Huey plots with Jazmine to breakout a wrongly imprisoned black activist from the 70s. The episode also deals with issues of fate and relying on other people. What can Huey do, when there is nothing he can do? Do we make our own luck or is there something stronger at work?
The forces that enable Ruckus’ revival, imprisoned Shabazz, and power Huey’s breakout plans are all at the upper echelon of ridiculous. While the ending of the episode might be a little deus ex machine, the moments building to that ending are truly moving.
Taking inspiration from a Spike Lee Classic, on the hottest day of the year, Jazmine opens up a lemonade stand. Amused by her entrepreneurship, Ed Wuncler Sr offers to give her a pony is exchange for a partnership. Jazmine takes the deal but soon finds out that working with Wuncler is horrible. Jazmine and Wuncler may be the leads but the supporting cast contributes greatly with this episode. Take Riley for example, he finds himself in a philosophical dilemma: is it ok to snitch to the police, on the police?
Anytime Wuncler Sr is on screen he manages to steal the show. His speech about waking up and putting a boot up the ass of an Asian sweatshop worker is one of the best monologues in the series. The beauty of this episode is that everything relates back to Jazmine’s stand from Huey, Riley and even Uncle Ruckus, who continues to be racially profiled and beat by the police but refuses to acknowledge the fact.
What makes “Granddad’s Fight” the best episode of the Boondocks? It could have something to do with its excellent animation (Check out Huey’s dream fighting the blind swordsman), it could have something to do with its excellent voice work or it could have something to do with the antagonist of this episode being one of the most recognized and quoted characters in the entire series. Some of the criticisms of McGrudger and the Boondocks in general have been when it comes to these racial and social situations, he brings nothing new to the discussion table, not the case with “Granddad’s Fight.” It takes a situation that happens time and time again, gives it a name and definition and with a near flawless execution of comedy and action that is riveting with social commentary and plenty of subtext.
The Boondocks defines a nigga moment as “When ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise logical Negro Male causing him to act in an illogical self-destructive manner i.e., like a nigga.” These nigga moments the episode base its premise on seem to be at the forefront of a Worldstar culture, where everyone wants to capture and share these moments of ignorance, if only for their own benefit, ignoring the possible social harm they could cause.
The subsequent episodes involving Stinkmeaner have not been as impactful (“Stinkmeaner Strikes Back” was hokey and “The Hateocracy” could have worked as well without the Stinkmeaner connection) but it does say something for a character to be dead and still find a way to keep returning. Still, those episodes lose focus of what McGrudger and crew were saying about the original nigga moment: ultimately they are avoidable and you must live with your consequences. Granddad may have won his fight, but he was not proud of his victory. Like Huey says in the end “Colonel Stinkmeaner had no family or friends. He lived a life without love, companionship, or even pets. He was a horrible awful human being. And in truth, the world was better off with him dead. Still, he was our brother.”