The Boondocks: "From Bitches To Rags"
B

The Boondocks: "From Bitches To Rags"

B

The Boondocks

"From Bitches To Rags"

Season 3, Episode 2

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Word to ya nerd, Boondocks dwellers!  I'll be covering this show for the duration of Season 3, but unfortunately, I found myself last night in the only house in the greater Los Angeles area without cable television, so I wasn't able to do the recap until it went up on the Adult Swim site this morning.   So, apologies for the delay. 

However, I had reason to hope it would be worth the wait.  Some of my favorite Boondocks episodes, including "The Story Of Gangstalicious" and "Shinin'", involve deep satire of the rap game, and since the plot of "From Bitches To Rags" is predicated on the (largely self-caused) fall from fortune of Thugnificent -- government name Otis Jenkins -- it seemed reasonable to expect big laughs.  It's a bit slow getting started, though; the disgraceful state of his surburban manse and his fronting that he's going to loan Warren Buffett eight billion dollars with no backsies seems a bit generic.  More key to the satire the show needs are the moments where he saturates every one of his new tracks in AutoTune, or comes across as out-of-it as Grandpa Freeman when he tries to come up with a new dance because "that's what the kids like".

Later, when he appears on a rap radio show with El-P look-alike DJ Vlad, Thugnificent -- already reduced to a diet of warm Frosties -- suffers a nice commentary on the blink-duration memories of rap fans when he's constantly referred to as a grizzled old-school has-been despite the fact that his first album only came out four years ago.  In one of the episode's best bits, he desperately tries to show his hipness by reading off a list of current rappers he digs, which he obviously compiled off the internet right before the show started.  (I didn't catch all the rappers' names, but there were a couple of hilarious ones, including Young Cowtipper and Goo Goo the Bone Mouf.)  One ill-conceived feud with Sgt. Guttah later, and he's reduced to hanging around in his filthy house, recording deranged screeds on YouTube. 

An attempt at getting job proves fruitless (a bit that ends with the best of several effective jabs at the no-homo meme in rap), Thugnificent decides to take the only path left open to him:  after years of fronting, he decides to become an actual thug, and start slinging 'caine.  Unfortunately, he has no idea how to go about it, but a few minutes of research listening to rap videos teaches him everything he needs to know about cooking.  His attempts to sell it, though, is hindered by a top-hatted crackhead with serious concerns about quality control.  A whoozy parody of the drug-deal scene in Boogie Nights finally ends his rap career, but, as is every celebrity in the history of being famous for no particular reason, he's finally rescued by the angel of reality programming.

This wasn't the strongest episode of The Boondocks; its satire was strong from moment to moment, but overall, it suffered from a directionless plot and a lack of any way to tie its keen parodies of the pitfalls of the gangsta-rap lifestyle to the ordinary human level.  What it needed, essentially, was more of the Freeman family, whose ordinariness usually serves to tie the show's puncturing of the culture to a grounded, normal world.  Still, when it worked, it worked well, and Aaron McGruder's shown that there's not likely to be a shortage of hip-hop absurdity for him to puncture any time soon.

Rating:  B

Stray Observations:

- I know there's a substantial love-it-or-hate-it quality to the show's ever-increasing anime look, but I'm glad that McGruder still cares to get the little details right:  stuff like Grandpa Freeman's bunny slippers and the fact that Thugnificent has switched his gold chains for silver and has started chain-smoking Newpies -- not to mention going from Cristal to Miller Lite -- adds a funny verisimilitude to the show.

- "Federal Reserve be askin' me for loans, Obama and shit...you need some money?"

- "Nigga talkin' bout he need health insurance and shit.  I'm like, damn, nigga!  Pull down ya skirt!  You know what I'm sayin'?  Take the dick out ya ass!" 

- "That nigga rap like he got a nipple in his mouth."

- "We did a song called 'Stomp 'Em in the Nuts', which was, ironically, about stompin' niggas in the nuts."

- "Can I just get mine and go?  I was supposed to pick my daughter up from school like eight hours ago."

- "You're a musical genius!  Like Ray Charles, but without the piano skills, or the ability to sing or compose music!"

- "Thanks, old man. I know I told you to eat a lot of dicks, but you all right with me."

- It's way too long to cite in its entirety here, but Leonard's long (and improvised-sounding) bit about trying to pay the $12,000 monthly mortgage on Thugnificent's house with his Wendy's salary, and subsequent tangents into art sales and the impregnation of his co-workers, was a show-stopper.

Filed Under: TV, The Boondocks

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