aaron mcgruder by Sloan Varunok May 27, 2020
On May 29 cartoonist Aaron McGruder was born and two decades later he would grace the world with the controversial comic strip The Boondocks.
Now, it’s hard to believe that it has been a decade and a half since Boondocks first graced our TV screens. Based on the 1996 comic strip by Aaron McGruder, Boondocks’ gorgeous faux-anime visuals and hilarious writing brought still-relevant social commentary.
Always biting, Boondocks brought awareness to issues facing the black community through the eyes of ten-year-old Huey Freeman. Whether satirizing, paying homage to film, or making a serious statement, McGruder did so with tact, making us remember this many years on.
To celebrate his creativity, here are some of the best moments from the TV series:
When cruel billionaire Ed Wunceler (voiced by and based off actor Ed Asner) moves to town, Huey fears for his, his brother Riley’s, and his granddad’s lives. Granddad (voiced by the late John Witherspoon) insist cheese is the answer to their problems with ornery racist old white folks. Huey, the series’ voice of reason, does not see it this way.
But what do you know, Granddad was right! At least in this case.
In the pilot, Aaron was able to set the tone for the series in a socially aware and hilarious way. So we watched on…
Boondocks sure knows how to start a season off right.
Taking the boys and neighbor girl Jazmine to Soul Plane 2, Granddad comes prepared with snacks in his coat, while Riley has the camcorder for his own home release. Jazmine, seeing the over-the-top anti-piracy previews (which were all OVER the 2000s), feels like they’re doing something wrong.
Well, they did sneak in…
Because of this, Huey squares off against Ruckus in an iconic fight, and unionizes the movie theater, shutting it down. So… power to the people?
The world this episode came out in was a different one. In the recession of ’08, people needed hope and change, which Barack Obama embodied. With a documentary crew covering the Freeman house, Granddad being a former Civil Rights Movement leader.
They’re all understandably hyped for a black president…except Huey. Huey doesn’t see what to get so excited about, and the town treats him as a pariah for responding “eh.” He is called a domestic terrorist, with even his family not backing him.
This episode was great, as it showed every political cycle sells hope by the gallon. Change is another story.
Uncle Ruckus, a black man who says he’s a white man with revitaligo, hates black people, but is ironically friends with the Freemans. On “The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show,” a camera crew reveals upon DNA test that Ruckus is, in fact, a black man.
It’s hilarious to see Uncle Ruckus, a man who’s always seen as a black man but still loves “the white man,” almost face reality… until another DNA test comes in saying the first one was a mistake.
Possibly the best episode of the show, the Freeman boys are chaperoned on a scared straight program by their neighbor Tom DuBois. This is mostly so Tom, a law-abiding straight-laced black man can conquer his fear of going to prison and being raped.
There, a riot breaks out in the prison, with the Freemans forming a committee for terms of ending the riot. Huey educates us on the real use of prisons, including keeping slave labor for the prison industrial complex.
Huey suggests the end of their labor exploitation, but their focus is on what kind of bitches they’ll get for releasing hostages. This was the funniest, most memorable, and I believe most socially impactful episode.