Last night’s episode of the Adult Swim series The Boondocks is certain to have Tyler Perry‘s fans (and lawyers) in an uproar, as the caustic barbs skewered Perry’s bad drag act and his … bad film-making.
For those who have never seen the show, it centers on an African-American family: Robert, who is the legal guardian to his two grandkids, Huey, a leftist intellectual 10-year-old who rarely smiles, and 8-year-old troublemaker Riley, who fancies himself a gangsta.
The family is watching the latest opus from auteur Winston Jerome, who stars as his distaff alter ego Ma Dukes, a rotund elderly woman who always has a one-liner or smack upside the head ready. What’s the movie about? Let Huey educate you on Winston:
The typical Winston Jerome story starts with a beautiful, educated, professional black woman trapped in a troubled marriage with the brown-skinned bald dude from Law & Order.
Then, a dude who looks like Shemar Moore shows up as the shirtless, light-skinned gardener who just got out of jail. At first she acts like she doesn’t like the light-skinned gardener, but eventually gets to know him and sees his sensitive side.
Being a good Christian woman, she gives her marriage one last chance because Jesus said so. Just when the brown-skinned dude from Law & Order is about to hit her, here comes the shirtless gardener. The woman and the gardener kiss, having found true love through Jesus.
Granddad is excited because he’s auditioning to be in Winston’s next play Ma Dukes Finds Herself a Man. And he’s willing to show Winston "everything I’ve got." Which prompts this exchange with gangsta-wannabe Riley:
Riley: Pause! You said something gay, so you’ve gotta say "no homo," or you’re a homo.
Granddad: I’m not saying "no homo." All I said was I’m going to give him everything I’ve got.
Riley: Pause, Granddad! That is gay, and you’ve gotta say "no homo." How am I supposed to know you’re not a homo, Granddad, if you don’t say "no homo."
That conversation perfectly sums up the absurdity of the usage of "no homo," especially among insecure straight athletes and hip-hop stars, who Riley emulates.
But wait! It gets better!
Grandad nails his audition and is invited to the Winston Jerome Manor, and this is where the episode goes from satire to sheer brilliance. If only for a while.
Granddad enters the mansion to see Ma Dukes riding down from the ceiling in a golden elevator, which leads to a perfectly realized parody of "The Time Warp" from Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s been re-written as "It’s Alright to Crossdress for God," and includes such lyrics as "Jesus gave me a vision, to make plays and dress like women. To wear corsets and real tight linen, big drawers with a lot of padding in them."
Grandad decides that kissing Winston/Ma Dukes is worth it if it’ll make him a star, much to the consternation of his grandsons. Riley and Huey try to rescue him from Winston’s clutches, but are unsuccessful, and have to sit in the audience and watch Granddad be molested by Ma Dukes (prompting Riley to vomit in his seat.)
Unfortunately, the show goes off the rails in the last act, as Winston tries to take Granddad up on his offer to show him "everything he’s got." The jokes here are much more obvious, and frankly, not as funny.
Make no mistake – the show isn’t implying that Winston/Tyler is gay, they’re declaring it. And they’re taking him to task for what they see as his hypocrisy. They see a gay man who dresses in drag but has become rich by exploiting "Christian values," and they’re not afraid to denounce him as a pandering closet case.
That ballsiness, along with the "no homo" bit and the the RHPS parody are as biting and funny as anything seen on South Park. In fact, this episode is very reminscent of that show’s "Trapped in the Closet" episode which went after Tom Cruise.
In case you think that the show is portraying the gay character as a predator, well, you’re right. But frankly, no one comes off well in this episode. Granddad is a skeevy perv leering and lusting after women 1/3 his age (his ideal is a "big-titted woman like Lynda Carter".) Okay, I’m sure that’s the ideal for a lot of Granddads, but watching him salivate over young women is pretty horrific. And while we expect homophobia from little Riley, I was surprised to see Huey so eager to "rescue" his Granddad from having to kiss another man.
Thoughts on this episode? Shocked the show went so far? We certainly have to wonder on what basis The Boondocks is basing their storyline. Do you think Tyler Perry’s lawyers are on stand-by? Need we mention that we’ve had our own problems with Tyler Perry?
The Boondocks airs on Adult Swim (The Cartoon Network) Sunday nights at 11:30PM EST, and you can watch the entire episode online … eventually.