The second half of our Boondocks double-dip tonight is "Pause", and I'm sure you're just as excited as I am about the argument that's going to break out in the comments over whether or not the 'pause'/'no-homo' thing is homophobic, or not homophobic, or some other thing that involves people telling each other to fuck off. I was pretty interested to see how the show was going to handle this whole phenom, though, since it's made to pretty good gag references to 'no-homo' before, and has itself played pretty fast and loose with the concept of homophobia in hip-hop culture (Riley's 'nigga, you gay' catchphrase has three words in it, and two of them will infuriate someone in any randomly selected group of Americans).
Anyway, "Pause" — peace to my man Hova — unfolds when Robert Freeman (who we learn is a frustrated thespian who's done terrible auditions for roles ranging from Mr. Tibbs to Clubber Lang) decided to try out for a new play produced by Winston Jerome. This would be the Boondocks-verse stand-in for Tyler Perry, with the Christian self-righteousness and creepy combo of transvestism and homophobia amped up to eleven. After a rocky audition process (including a Kadeem Hardison sighting and a run-in with the world's most jaded lotion man), he gets the gig, and learns that Jerome's touring company is more like an evangelical cult with rather peculiar sexual leanings. (Plus, he puts a sweater on his crucifix, because he looks so cold up there.)
At first, it's all for the good; Robert (who hears Jerome's voice the same way Charlie Brown hears his teacher's voice) thinks he's really made it in showbiz, and Jerome promises to get him "a big-tittied white woman who looks like Lynda Carter". But it quickly turns ugly: he has to sever his ties with his family, Jerome's drag alter ego Ma Dukes wants to kiss him a little too much; and worst of all, the bizarre homoerotic Christian theater troupe wants to usurp Ice Cube's role as the king of black Hollywood. And after he was nice enough to record all their promos!
When Riley and Huey get hip to what's happening, they attempt through their usual method of kung-fu fighting to liberate their grandpa; but it turns out that he's all too willing to play along if it means a last shot at fame and fortune. He goes along with the program, but, as is all too often the case in that crazy little business we call show, he eventually has to make a choice between giving an evangelical cult leader a blowjob and taking home a chicken-eating mudhog. And that's one to grow on.
This one was straight-up absurd from the jump. It was the first episode of the season co-written by Rodney Barnes, who collaborated in a lot of the series' early installments, which might be why it felt a little like a throwback episode: Huey had more to do than he's had for a while, Riley was back to his role as the incessant tormentor of Granddad, and even Tom Dubois shows up to reprise his early role as the voice of bourgeois black America. Nervous as I was about its treatment of homosexuality, it was clear from the moment they launched into an insane, unexpected, and hilarious parody of The Rocky Horror Picture Show that it wasn't looking to make any kind of serious satirical statement about sexual politics. Even the initial "no homo" conversation between Riley and Granddad plays more like an Abbott & Costello routine than anything else.
Although it didn't have quite the feel of the most recent episodes, and got a bit directionless at times, there were a bunch of good laugh lines, a dynamite ending, and an increased role for some characters that have been neglected of late. Season 3 keeps rolling steady from where I sit; what did y'all think?
- "You were about to kiss that dude! No homo!"
- "You know kids. They always wantin' to talk to their sole legal guardian."
- Six Dicks of Separation
- "I asked Jesus how best I could spread his message on Earth, and he said: 'Cross-dressing'."
- "Bullshit, Mr. Handyman!" Only Robert could be worse at acting the part of Williams from Enter The Dragon than Jim Kelly was.
- "What, I'm supposed to wait for the next Akeelah And The Bee to pay my mortgage?
- "I know you think I'm just a light-skinded gardener so poor that I can't even afford a shirt, but I love me some Jesus — and I love me some you."