The following is an open letter about the season so far. My opinions may change after the season runs it course. The last episode played was “Home Alone”.
Dear Aaron McGruder,
Allow me to introduce myself. I used to run a fan site called The Boondocks Fan.com. I’m pretty sure you’re a tad familiar with it. However, I’m not going to talk about the past. I have to detach myself from that because I’m a lot more than just some guy who happened to followed the Boondocks from the first time it appeared in The Source back in the day. I’ll never forget that moment. It was like the first time I saw TMNT killing Shedder in dirty black and white comic during their humble (yet ultra violent and gritty) Mirage beginnings. It was new, different and refreshing. It showed me that comics don’t have to be cute to make a point.
When I started working for the Virgin Islands Daily News in 1999, I thought I’ll never see Huey, Riley, Jasmine and Caeser again. I had an airbrush shirt with Riley smacking a wannabe MC off the stage with a mic stand, which I wore proudly. Someone working there saw that shirt and said “that looks like a character we’re going to running in a few weeks”. It was then I discovered that the comics made it to print. While I know you have to keep your “tongue-in-check”, you never failed to disappoint. Your comics were mostly on-point and showed that once again, you don’t have to be cute or play favorites to make a point.
Years later, upon finding out that you had ink a deal with Adult Swim and Sony to produce a TV series, I made it a point to make sure everyone knows it’s on. I went through a lot to post videos, keeping the content under “fair use” and even thought I spend money keeping a site up, it was worth it. Sure, some people prefer the comic over the TV show when it first aired all because they can’t stand Huey and Riley’s voice, but I knew you’ll give me something. And for a first season, you provided the excellent writing I came to love and memories that made even the haters take a second look. You used extreme methods (even some that irks my own skin) to make a funny, yet thoughtful show, proving once again… you don’t have to be cute to make a point.
As you may noticed, I said “you don’t have to be cute to make a point” over and over. Some people may not really get that. But that’s my way of saying that you don’t have to dress up or sugar coat the truth to make an impact. You can be edgy and still make people laugh. You can be do it tastefully and still move people. So, this is what I mean… but let’s get back to you, Mr. McGruder.
After the first season, some thought you “pulled a Chapelle”. Some thought if Season 2 will be as good since Season 1 set the standard a bit too high. Some would even go as far as saying that it maybe outdated by the time Season 2 found its way to Adult Swim. But I kept my faith in you… and then Season 2 was finally announced and, eventually, premiered.
As fans of the show, we were happy that it came back on. Well, some of us were happy. I, on the other hand, was ecstatic. There were a lot of improved visuals and the voice acting gotten much better. I enjoyed the rifts on 50 Cent and the movie industry. However, as each episode premiered and your approval rating goes up, something bothered me. Why are the endings of most of the shows an afterthought? Why is the most funniest episode happened to be the episode that coined the term “killer kung-fu wolf bitch”? Why Caeser was gone? Why is there too many fight scenes? And most of all, why is the writing only subpar? I mean, we all can pause reality for a moment and know that a 10 year old boy can’t really do that much. (After all, it’s a cartoon first.) But why is the stories, well, bland? I mean, the first duty of your show is to make sure it’s funny, and this season is funny. However, it’s more of a slapstick kind of funny instead of a satire kind of funny, which is what drive the first season most of the way. A lot of easy shots have been fired. It’s almost as if… you’re trying to be “cute”.
Here’s one example of subpar writing: Tom, Sarah and Usher. As we all know, Tom’s a bit of a wuss. Throughout the episode, we see Tom as someone who can’t seem to take a hint that his wife is yearning for excitement. This example shows that there isn’t a compelling reason to be attach to either Sarah or Tom. Usher was just a “MacGuffin” to the story and anyone can see that. You don’t feel sorry for Tom or Sarah. Love didn’t even win this battle. The only thing that saved this episode was “A Pimp Named Slickback”. However, if anything, this episode only gave Slick- I mean, A Pimp Named Slickback (or Katt Williams) a platform to throw his best bits about women and his way of educating males about “bitch dependency”.
The other problem with the series is that Huey was almost never in any of the shows. Yes, physically, he’s there, but he’s only there to “move the story along”. The one episode when he was the focus (Home Alone), even he was “somewhat interesting”. But this season was mostly a “Granddad and Riley” season, and while it was funny, there were nothing that is worth talking about. It’s less about how great and funny the writing is and more about “how much over the top I can get”. So while “The Health Inspector” and “Return of the King” had excellent writing, episodes like “Killer Kung-Fu Wolf Bitch” and even “The Return of Stinkmeaner” was a bit over the top-
<aside> Yes, I know a blind man don’t drive in reality. But this is a cartoon were talking about here… </aside>
The one episode of Season 2 that could have saved the season (so far) failed to deliver. That one was titled “The Invasion of the Katrinans”. Little Wayne was annoying (P.S. – Yes, I know. He was suppose to be annoying. Leave me alone.), and while the episode was funny, the social commentary wasn’t biting… hard enough. But sadly, that’s the closest the season got to writing that can even stand toe to toe with Season 1. And when LeSean Thomas, your art director, says that this is one of his favorite episodes (read the comments in his dA people), then that means that either there’s more of the same in store or this is about “as good as it gets”.
So, my question to you is, what happened? Are the hardcore fans expecting too much? Or is this the best you can come up with on such “short notice”?
<aside>Yes, this qualified as “short notice” in the showbiz world. Animation usually takes months to complete. It takes 3-4 weeks to get one episode finish.</aside>
If it’s the latter, than maybe you ought to start writing for Season 3 right now. Your show maybe popular, but it might bite you in the ass if DVD sales fall flat. I can see myself buying Season 1, but I can hardly see myself (or any other hardcore fan) even wishing to buy Season 2. Other than “Killer Kung-fu Wolf Bitch” and maybe “The Invasion” (with a HUGE maybe), I don’t see a compelling reason to recommend Season 2 (yet). Huey getting beat up… yes, I can take that. Riley not really growing from his past experiences, maybe. Granddad acting a bit more “eccentric” than last season, sure. But is it enough to buy a Season 2 disc? No.
Other than the car, nothing carried over from Season 1. There’s less of Jasmine, more of Tom (can you say wussy boy?). There’s less of Huey’s mind playing tricks on him (Whiteshadow) and more of Riley’s stupidness (He’ll kiss a man to get a chain back). There’s less of Huey’s insight (like his definition of a “nigga moment”) and more cheap laughs. And on top of all that, Huey smiled during an episode? Huey never smiled in the comics and for him to smile in an episode drives the point home…
… I guess eventually, you’ll have to be “cute” for Hollywood.
So, in conclusion, I beg you, Aaron. I’m not asking to stop writing cheap laughs, but I am asking that you stop writing cheap shortcuts. You don’t have to improve the character designs, but improve the character development. Now that you lower the bar a bit, raise it a bit so that Season 3 can outshine the majority of Season 2. And I hope that for the rest of Season 2 you have something better… because I need some reassurance…
… that you don’t have to be “cute” to get a point across.
Signed, Nukirk… and maybe those that will comment below me.
P.S. – BRING BACK CAESER ALREADY!!! GEEZ!!!!