This season of the Boondocks has been received with mixed reviews. While the season hasn’t ended yet, I can see why some people would think it’s been subpar thus far. For one, we’re judging this season on a per episode basis. I saw the same thing happen with the second season too. On the hip hop message board that I used to frequent people would comment after every episode of the second season as if it was the end of the world. Now that time has passed it seems that universal consensus is that the second season was excellent when judged as an entire body of work. I’m not saying this season is the same as the second but I would like to view it in its entirety before judging it to be subpar.
Making a satirical show about black culture in America is very difficult to do. There is a lot of timeliness involved with pop culture and the cycle of relevancy is speeding up. Taking a two year break sort of hurts the content of these episodes. This is evidenced by Chappelle’s struggles to make it through just three seasons of his own show. Once a show like The Boondocks becomes known for its biting wit and brash statement on controversial topics, people can’t help but to tune in. And that’s when the suits come in. You know the suits right? The guys who banned two episodes of The Boondocks second season because they were critical of Viacom subsidiary “BET”? Things like this mess up a comedic artist.
The truth that people find in humor can’t really succeed when it’s being censored heavily. The first time you tell Aaron McGruder what he CAN’T say or do you’re hurting your product. That’s the irony of “suits” coming in after a show has become popular only to make changes that corrupt the original vision that made said show so damned popular in the first place. What does this have to do with Season 3?
On Aaron MacGuder’s twitter page he had an ominous tweet that hinted at the start of this season that this would indeed be the last season of the Boondocks. McGruder himself seemed unwilling to do much promotion for his own product. Maybe his vision for the Boondocks wasn’t about catchy sayings on T-shirts or coffee mugs. What was apparent though is that these shows are almost all filled with more content than needed. It’s like he knew that this was his last chance to get his take on things out to the public through this medium.
Some episodes seem simply crammed with content. It seems like it would take more than 20 minutes to convey a complete look at the entirety of the success of Tyler Perry and the effects on the black community. Even the first episode about Barrack Obama getting support because of his skin color, sex appeal and speaking ability seemed sort of rushed. Admittedly, expectations were probably TOO high for many fans that have been waiting over 2 years for the series to come back to Cartoon Network.
I’ve watched every episode at least 3 times and I’ve found that there is normally extra depth to be found in each one. This is something I’ve always done even in first season but this is the first time where I’ve felt that I HAD to watch each episode more than once to find the messages. I don’t think that is a good thing. The goal of good writing is to compel you to follow along but not make you feel like you’re working for it. I felt like I was doing work to find the point of several episodes this season. Without knowing all the behind the scenes stuff with the writing staff and company censors I’m still going to speculate on what I think happened.
I think McGruder is now trying to rush and get the last word on everything he wants to speak on while hiding some of his more controversial subject matter in the script. I don’t know if that is “funny” and I always thought the first goal of the show was to be funny in the prior seasons. I can’t wait until this season is over so that I can judge it as an entire arc because judging episode by episode is not the way to go. Sometimes you need distance to truly appreciate something like The Boondocks. I remember how angry people were about the comments of Uncle Rukus in the “Katrina” episode last year. Now that episode is widely praised by my circle of friends.
The topics this year have been about homophobia, the black church, political racism, racism helping to bring people together, misplaced nationalism and the parallels between drug dealing and school fund raisers. In short, it’s been all over the place and even if this season turns out to be the worst of the three that’s really not a diss. The first two seasons were among the best TV shows I’ve ever seen so I can forgive a subpar third season if things do indeed end up that way. If McGruder does choose to stop doing this show because of the pressures of success or censorship then I think this season’s failure to hit home is really on the suits at Cartoon Network. The stone that the builder refused indeed.