Aaron McGruder Explains Why He Left ‘The Boondocks’

03.30.14 4 years ago 39 Comments


After a few days of dead air, one of the parties involved with The Boondocks dispute stepped forward to release a statement. The show’s creator, Aaron McGruder, took to the Facebook page of the other show he’s developing for Adult Swim, Black Jesus, to bring fans up to speed on where he stands. From the sounds of it, his position is one most fans don’t want to hear.

“As the world now knows, The Boondocks will be returning for a fourth season, but I will not be returning with it. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Sony and Adult Swim for three great seasons.

“I created The Boondocks two decades ago in college, did the daily comic for six years, and was showrunner on the animated series for the first three seasons. The Boondocks pretty much represents my life’s work to this point. Huey, Riley, and Granddad are not just property to me. They are my fictional blood relatives. Nothing is more painful than to leave them behind.

“To quote a great white man, ‘Hollywood is a business’. And to quote another great white man, ‘Don’t hold grudges’.

“What has never been lost on me is the enormous responsibility that came with The Boondocks – particularly the television show and it’s relatively young audience. It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture, and love. Anything less would have been simply unacceptable.

“As for me, I’m finally putting a life of controversy and troublemaking behind me with my upcoming Adult Swim show, BLACK JESUS.”

Mere speculation here based off reading between the lines: the relationship between McGruder and Adult Swim is fractured beyond repair. But, since Black Jesus is still in production, McGruder took the high road versus ripping the network a new asshole.

I saw a poll somewhere that showed fans being split on whether they’d watch Season 4 of the show or not. I, for one, have zero interest in watching it without McGruder. Even if he’s saying the right things in order to keep Black Jesus moving forward, I know that Huey, Riley and all the other characters are a shell of themselves if they don’t have McGruder informing their point of view.

Situations like this happen all too often. I’ve seen them and been involved in them myself. One party creates an idea and another comes in to help take it to the next level or two parties originate an idea jointly then one gets swayed by outside influences. Either way, one party ends up boxed out while that second party ends up with the upper hand. They’re not forced out; nudged consistently might be a better way to phrase it. A shift occurs and over time the creation eventually loses its identity.

Truthfully, I’ve never cared about the TV version. Out of three seasons, I’ve maybe seen three episodes. Still, I’ve made it a point to support the show in various ways because I’ve rode for McGruder since the days of the comic strip and all of his books. Those two little kids from burbs meant more than kneeslaps in response to jokes. They represented not only McGruder, but us as well.

McGruder was one of the few voices we – not just the “we” as in Black folk, but “we” of the Hip-Hop generation – had out there stirring things up and speaking what we thought through his character. I remember this guy writing on everything, from Kobe’s rape case to Bill Cosby’s age-addled war on rap, commentary on Presidents Clinton and Bush. Whatever was happening, we had a voice that closely mirrored our own, one that never backed down with his satire in the face of criticism and one that showed we weren’t just a materialistic, money-hungry generation. We cared about political and social issues that affected the nation and the world at large.

Blaming Adult Swim seems more incendiary than accurate here, especially since we don’t know the full details. As McGruder mentioned, holding grudges won’t change the situation. Whatever caused the riff had to be both ongoing and big enough for the creator to separate from his product. Ten years down the line, McGruder or one of the showrunners will finally come forward and tell us what really happened behind closed doors. Until then, the only thing I’m left thinking is we’ve possibly lost that voice for the time being. That’s disappointing since it was one of kind and likely one of the last ones we had left.

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