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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Boondocks: "The Fundraiser"

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Yo yo yo, haternators!  My apologies for the lateness of this recap.  Thanks to some crazy storm action on the home front, my cable went out when "The Fundraiser" originally aired; Adult Swim is notoriously slow about adding videos to their site, and the new ep didn't show up on iTunes until Wednesday.  So instead of bitching up the whole timeline, I figured I'd just post this tonight, allowing you a tasty double dip of Aaron McGruder action.

After a handful of episodes early on that took the focus off the Freeman famalam, season 3 has settled back down on Huey, Riley and Granddad as the means through which to take well-deserved potshots at that wacky ol' culture called 'urban'.  I think, overall, that's been a pretty good decision, although Huey's gotten pretty marginalized of late.  Tonight's episode reminded me a lot, thematically, of the excellent "Contemporary American Poultry" episode of Community, where cafeteria chicken fingers were used as the central metaphor in a pitch-perfect parody of Goodfellas.  In "The Fundraiser", grade-school candy sales are the medium by which Riley returns to his dreams of gangsta glory, and it starts off wonderfully with the static shot recalling Scarface and a couple of other thug-life classics.


Riley, in his usual directionless money-makin' mode, is ordered by Grandpa to go out and find a hobby, which Riley's broke ass is unable to do.  That's when Jazmine — who I don't think we've seen at all this season until now — reminds him of the school's chocolate bar fundraiser, and he's inspired to go all Frank Lucas on it.  He hits upon the totally original idea of having his own fundraiser, only with himself as the charity, with every dollar going to his pocket.  Huey, naturally tries to rain on his parade, but Riley, who's used to his fun-crushing tendencies, shuts him up before he even registers his first objection.

Coming up with an elaborate rationale as to why what he's doing isn't illegal, and recruiting the two best fundraisers in class as his crew, he then presses them into service funding the whole scam.  He even gets Cindy McPhearson, the Chris Partlow of Girl Scout cookies, to turn over her corners.  Pretty soon, he's suborned the school principal by giving him a bigger cut than he was getting from the old fund-raising outfit, and it starts to look like this really was the greatest idea Riley ever had.  (The show mostly deals in goofy parody, but there's a nasty element of social commentary in how Riley's scheme largely succeeds because the parents start to get competitive — and appreciate how it keeps their own kids out of their hair.)

But it's Huey's job to know how every episode of this show is going to end, no matter how bad Riley doesn't want to hear it.  Eventually, he's run out of business by World's Ultimate Chocolates, the original fundraisers, and who appear to be a consortium of Cockneys operating out of a toilet.  It all ends in a massive bloodbath between the Brits, the mob, and the F.B.I. over the chocolate bar racket, which is apparently surprisingly lucrative during an economic downturn.

This episode was a fine one — it pushed the gangsta allegory as far as it's fun but manages not to get too heavy-handed, and it probably had the most funny lines of any episode this season.  As satire, it didn't have much of a point, in both senses of the word, but as straight-up comedy, it was a rousing success.  It also stayed close to Woodcrest and didn't venture too far into the outside world, which is the area where The Boondocks puts itself most at risk.  It made good use of the supporting cast, rewarded folks who picked up on its references without alienating those who didn't, and generally played to its strengths throughout.  Another excellent installment of what's shaping up to be the show's strongest season.


Rating:  A-

Stray Observations: 

- "The first rule of fund-raising is:  don't give nothin' to nobody, period.  No charities, homeless people, Salvation Army, Red Cross, starvin' Africans — nothin'!  You can't be raising funds and giving funds away at the same time."


- "Allowance?  I allow you to live here!  I allow you to eat up my food!  I allow you to burn up my electricity!"

- Granddad's teasing of Jazmine is downright charming, and a reminder that McGruder can pull off character stuff if he has a mind to.


- "The World's Ultimate Chocolates fundraiser is basically like selling crack on consignment, except you don't even get no money!  How they gonna disrespect the game like that?"

- "Cause, nigga?  I'm the cause!  'Cause I want a house!  'Cause I want a yacht!  'Cause I wanna get this guap, nigga!"


- "Stop right there!  Every time I wanna do somethin', you tell me what's gonna happen first, and then that's what happens.  And you always ruin the endings of stuff, man!  I wanna be surprised this time."

- "I like it!  Sounds like, you know, some of that positive bullshit that people eat up!"


- "We gotta move 'em out street by street, block by block.  That's what Beanie Sigel would do!"

- Which reminds me, Cindy's take-the-corners rant had me in stitches.  The cute-white-girl-acting-gangsta shtick is pretty played by now, but she threw herself into it so hard, in combination with her bizarre obsession with Beans, made it work.


- "The car that turns into a boat, and then back into a car."

- "As far as you're concerned, I'm Willie fucking Wonka, and you're taking a shit in my chocolate factory."


- Riley's filthy anti-British tirade is so obscene I can't even transcribe it.  Every time I think this show has delivered the most over-the-top obscenity I've ever seen on television, it does me one better.  God bless America!

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