The Boondocks (TV series)
The main characters of The Boondocks
From left: Huey, Riley, and Robert Freeman
|Created by||Aaron McGruder|
|Voices of||Regina King
Gary Anthony Williams
Wendy Raquel Robinson
|Theme music composer||Asheru|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||45 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Aaron McGruder
Seung Eun Kim
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Rebel Base Productions
Sony Pictures Television
JM Animation (season 3)
Studio MIR (season 4)
|Original channel||Adult Swim (U.S)
Teletoon at Night (Canada)
|Picture format||4:3 SDTV (2005-2009)
16:9 HDTV (2010-present)
|Original run||November 6, 2005– present|
The Boondocks is an American animated series created by Aaron McGruder, based upon McGruder's comic strip of the same name. The show begins with an African-American family, the Freemans, having moved from the South Side of Chicago, Illinois to the fictional, peaceful and mostly white suburb of Woodcrest. The perspective offered by this mixture of cultures, lifestyles, and races provides for much of the comedy in this series.
The series premiered on November 6, 2005. The 15-episode Season 1 ended on March 19, 2006. Season 2 premiered on October 8, 2007. (Two of its 15 episodes, "The Hunger Strike" and "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show," were not aired, but they appeared on the DVD release.) Season 3 began airing on May 2, 2010 and concluded on August 15, 2010. On May 9, 2011, an interview with John Witherspoon was uploaded to YouTube, in which he stated that a 20-episode Season 4 will be made. As of May 10, 2013, the show is still set to return to Adult Swim sometime in 2013.
The Boondocks began its life as a comic strip in The Diamondback, the student newspaper at McGruder's alma mater, the University of Maryland, College Park. The strip later found its way into The Source magazine. Following these runs, McGruder began simultaneously pitching The Boondocks both as a syndicated comic strip and as an animated television series. The former goal was met first, and The Boondocks debuted in newspapers in April 1999.
In the meantime, development on a Boondocks TV series continued. McGruder and film producer/director Reginald Hudlin created a Boondocks pilot for the Fox Network, but found great difficulty in making the series acceptable for network television. Hudlin left the project after the Fox deal fell through, although McGruder and Sony Television are contractually bound to continue to credit him as an executive producer. Mike Lazzo, president of Adult Swim and executive producer for Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Space Ghost Coast to Coast stumbled across the pilot and declared it too networky. He then ordered a 15 episode Season and told McGruder to "just tell stories".
The series has a loose connection with the continuity of the comic strip, though during the final year of the strip McGruder made a point to try to synchronize both. He introduced Uncle Ruckus into the strip, and the comic strip version of Riley's hair was braided into cornrows to match the character's design in the series. During Season 1, McGruder put the strip on a six-month hiatus beginning in March 2006. He did not return to the strip the following November, and the strip's syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, announced that it had been cancelled.
- Huey Freeman (voiced by Regina King) is the voice-of-reason and moral compass of the family, and a spokesperson for contemporary Afrocentrism. He is an intelligent, wise-beyond-his-years ten-year-old who is an avid reader and knowledgeable about a variety of subjects. He is heavily influenced by the theories of various left-wing social movements and social justice leaders. He is constantly ridiculed and underestimated by his family, who think he is a fool for having goals and values that aim higher than those of the lower class environment from which they came. In the show, it is mentioned that Huey has been declared a "domestic terrorist". While Huey promotes various social causes, he is openly contemptuous of African-American pop culture as portrayed in mainstream media for glamorizing wasteful extravagance, self-defeating lifestyles, and ignorance. Unlike the other characters, Huey rarely smiles; although, in the episode "Let's Nab Oprah", he smiles after his duel with Riley, he also smiles when Riley begins to succeed in winning basketball games in the episode "Ballin'". He is also a skilled martial artist, beating Riley with ease in all of their fights, and has only lost to a few other opponents.
- Riley Freeman (also voiced by Regina King) is Huey's trouble-making, eight-year-old younger brother. Unlike his brother, Riley is an enthusiastic follower of contemporary African-American pop culture. Though he is otherwise charming, clever, and artistically gifted, Riley maintains loyalty to those pop culture ideals, even in the face of their self-destructive consequences. In the episode "The Fundraiser" Huey tries to warn him directly about the foregone conclusions of his poor decisions, but Riley offhandedly rebuffs him. The bulk of the series focuses on Riley's misadventures (most of which are fueled by his love of gangsta rap, and a desire to emulate other people he admires), or on his various outlandish schemes, which his grandfather often endorses and assists in. Despite his wild nature and attempts to appear tougher than he actually is, Riley occasionally shows a softer, innocent side. In contrast to his brother, Riley is skilled in street fighting, as shown in "Home Alone" and "Smokin' with Cigarettes". Despite Riley's techniques rarely contending with Huey's martial arts skills, they work as a powerful team when having to confront common enemies together.
- Robert Jebediah Freeman, a.k.a. "Grandad" (voiced by John Witherspoon) is the grandfather and legal guardian of Huey and Riley. While he loves his two grandsons, he sometimes explodes in tirades of angry frustration over the constant schemes, misadventures, and wise-cracking observations they have brought into his life. Robert himself is no stranger to this; for instance, his eager, misguided dating pursuits invariably attract bizarre or dangerous women. According to the Season 3 episode "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman", "Nobody knows exactly how old Robert Freeman is - not even himself." A big believer in the values of a long-gone generation of African-Americans, Robert often threatens to discipline his grandsons with Three Stooges-style corporal punishment. He generally uses his belt for this purpose and has developed a remarkable degree of speed and dexterity in wielding it.
Both the comic strip and the cartoon were influenced by McGruder's love of anime and manga. He cites Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo as sources of inspiration for the series' fight scenes. The opening sequence of Season 1 contains similarities to that of Samurai Champloo. Some of the humor is based on the characters' anime-style movements. In 2006, McGruder explained in an interview, "We now have a Japanese anime studio named Madhouse to help us out," however they show up nowhere in the show's credits, instead MOI Animation, an Emmy Award winning Korean studio and independent subdivision of Madhouse, are credited with animation from this point on. As a result, the following Seasons of the series have more detailed animation, as well as minor updates for most of the character designs.
The Boondocks has receive mixed to positive reviews from critics. In January 2006, The Boondocks was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 37th NAACP Image Awards, alongside The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends, and Half & Half. For the episode "Return of the King," the show won a Peabody Award in 2006. As of July 8, 2010, The Boondocks had a 72% rating on MetaCritic, based on 21 reviews and a 8.4/10 (Based on 9,469 votes) on IMDB. It was named the 94th best animated series by IGN, who describe it as a sharp satirical look at American society.
Critic Jeffrey M. Anderson of the San Francisco Examiner said, "Each episode is beautifully crafted, with an eye on lush, shadowy visuals and a pulsing, jazz-like rhythm... the show is almost consistently funny, consistently brilliant, and, best of all, compulsively watchable."
Mike Hale of the New York Times has considered The Boondocks among the top television shows of 2010, citing the episode "Pause" as a "painfully funny" satire of Tyler Perry being portrayed as a superstar actor and a leader of a homoerotic cult.
Criticism and controversy 
The Boondocks has been a frequent lightning rod for controversy since its debut as a comic strip in 1999, with ABC News noting, "Fans and critics of The Boondocks loved and hated the strip for the same reasons: its cutting-edge humor and unapologetic, sometimes unpopular, views on various issues, including race, politics, the war on terrorism and the Sept. 11 attacks." Numerous outlets predicted the show would encounter controversy prior to its November 2005 debut, due to its casual use of the word "nigger." According to an article in The Washington Post, references to Rosa Parks were removed from one of the series' first completed episodes within a week of her death. In 2006, the Reverend Al Sharpton protested the first season episode "Return of the King," for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s character's use of the word "nigga," saying "Cartoon Network must apologize and also commit to pulling episodes that desecrate black historic figures." Cartoon Network released a statement in response defending McGruder: "We think Aaron McGruder came up with a thought-provoking way of not only showing Dr. King's bravery but also of reminding us of what he stood and fought for, and why even today, it is important for all of us to remember that and to continue to take action," the statement said. The episode was later awarded a Peabody Award for being "an especially daring episode."
During The Boondocks Season 2, two episodes were banned from airing without any official word from the network. Originally slated to air on November 16 and December 17, "The Hunger Strike" and "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show" were both heavily critical of BET. An exclusive clip of "The Hunger Strike" was given to HipHopDX.com in late January 2008, before both episodes were included in full on the Season 2 DVD release that summer. An anonymous source close to the show told HipHopDX.com that they heard BET had been pressuring Sony (the studio behind The Boondocks) to ban the episodes and threatened legal action. Cartoon Network publicly stated that "...neither Turner nor Adult Swim were contacted by BET, Ms. Lee or Mr. Hudlin." However, BET's parent company, Viacom, did threaten legal action against Sony if said episodes were broadcast to air in the United States.
Tyler Perry was reportedly infuriated by his depiction in Season 3 episode "Pause," first aired in June 2010, although he has officially given no response. The episode stars Winston Jerome, a parody of Perry, a "closeted, cross-dressing cult leader whose love of the Christian faith is a mask for his true sexuality," in what the Los Angeles Times described as "one of the sharpest public criticisms of Perry." Soon after the episode aired, Perry got in touch with executives at Turner Broadcasting and "complained loudly" about the episode, threatening to rethink his relationship with the company. In 2010, Time magazine named The Boondocks as sixth out of 10 of the Most Controversial Cartoons of All Time.
Film spin-off 
McGruder launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $200,000, in order to produce a live-action film focusing on the character Uncle Ruckus. He stated that crowd-funding would be the sole source of funding for the film's budget. David Brothers of Comics Alliance expressed concern that a film about the character may not be effective as a racial comedy outside the context of the series. The campaign was from January 30 through March 1, 2013, 7:00 p.m. EST, ending with 2,667 backers and $129,963 of the $200,000 goal.
The Boondocks airs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in the United States, Teletoon's Teletoon at Night block in Canada, and Season 2 has aired on The Comedy Channel in Australia. Sony Entertainment Television (and later Sony Max) broadcasts the show in South Africa. It has also been aired on TV3 and TV6 in Sweden, on Comedy Central in New Zealand. MTV Italy and Comedy Central Italy in Italy, and on channel TV3+ in Denmark. In Russia, The Boondocks is aired on channel 2×2 under the name of Гетто (Ghetto in English),. In France, it airs on MCM (TV channel). It airs on Sony Entertainment Television (Latin America) in Latin America, as well as Animax also in Romania, Germany, and in Hungary (under the name of A kertvárosi gettó (The suburban ghetto)). It also airs uncensored and uncut in the Arab World on OSN.
- "'The Boondocks' Season 4 Is In The Works.". Kofi Outlaw (Screen Rant). 2011-07-23.
- "The Boondocks archive". GoComics.com.
- "John Witherspoon". Retrieved 2011-05-09.
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- Kondolojy, Amanda (May 10, 2013). "Adult Swim Announces Acquisition of 'Bob's Burgers' + New Series 'Ghostbags', 'Team Unicorn', 'Ubermansion' & More". TV by the Numbers.
- Hutchens, Bill. "Aaron McGruder interview: Complete transcript". The News Tribune, 6 November 2005. (archived page)
- McGruder, Aaron (2005-11-3). The A. V. Club. (Interview). http://www.avclub.com/articles/aaron-mcgruder,13965/.
- "Return of 'Boondocks' comic strip delayed". CNN. September 25, 2006.[dead link]
- McGruder, Aaron (2005-11-06). thenewstribune.com. Interview with Bill Hutchens. Archived from the original on 2007-03-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20070301163301/http://www.thenewstribune.com/ae/story/5312055p-4812701c.html.
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- "Sharpton criticizes Boondocks for showing King saying the n-word". USA Today. 2006-01-25. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
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- http://adage.com/abstract.php?article_id=124786(subscription required)
- Braxton, Greg (2010-06-21). "Aaron McGruder's Boondocks' lampoons Tyler Perry". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- Flint, Joe (2010-06-30). "Turner Broadcasting tries to make peace with Tyler Perry". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- "Top 10 Controversial Cartoons". Time. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- Obenson, Tambay A. (31 January 2013). "Aaron McGruder Is Making A Live-Action Uncle Ruckus Movie. Launches Kickstarter Campaign". Retrieved 22 February 2013.
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- "Телеканал 2х2". 2x2tv.ru. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
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- Official website
- The Boondocks at Adult Swim.com
- The Boondocks at the Internet Movie Database
- The Boondocks at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- The Boondocks at TV.com
- The Boondocks IC