How the “Boondocks” Fell Off

When the criticism becomes the problem.

By Jamilah King Aug 23, 2010

Confession: I’ve been a "Boondocks" fan for years. Used to collect the comic strip and, after it became an animated series, stayed glued to my DVD box set of season one for much longer than I should have. To me, there just wasn’t a show on TV that tackled race with the same amount of wit and humor–at least not since Chapelle’s Show, which ended in dramatic fashion midway through its third season in 2005.

But when "The Boondocks" wrapped up its third season last week, I think it’s fair to say that, minus a few gems, most long time fans were disappointed. Tired plots, less overtly political commentary, and way too many fried chicken jokes. Angela at PostBourgie makes a good point:

There’s a fine line between toying with a stereotype to prove a point, and playing out a stereotype on screen for cheap laughs. Time has shown that [the show’s creator Aaron] McGruder is much more adept at the latter. Or maybe it’s that one can only talk about stereotypes for so long before it becomes an instance of laughing "at" us versus laughing "with" us.

And to help make the point, she draws on Dwanyne Betts’ post from earlier this summer:

…You have to understand that what I now see on The Boondocks makes me fear that the reason why Chappelle left his show was the fast approaching point where there will be no more clever, insightful jokes to make either about black people, poverty, the revolution, black folks’ relationship to fried chicken, black folks’ relationship to white people[…]etc., etc., etc.

So what gives? Tired writing? Questionable producing? Or are we generally incapable of joking about race for too long before the criticism becomes the problem?