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Wednesday, 30 of September of 2020

The Boondocks – “Smokin With Cigarettes”

“They can’t send me to jail. I’ve been on TV. I’m a superstar.”

Lazy. If there was only one word to describe this week’s episode that’s what it would be: lazy. Adapting from previous works and basing things off of real events are great ways to tell a story, but to copy something word for word, shot for shot, is just plain uncreative. In usual Boondocks fashion the episode was jam-packed with social commentary, but nothing that couldn’t be gleaned from the episode’s source material. For the first time this season, I am disappointed. I guess TV shows are a lot like albums. You can love it as a whole but there are always gonna be tracks that you don’t like. If The Boondocks is Thriller, “Smokin with Cigarettes” is “The Lady in my Life.”

“Smokin with Cigarettes” is about Lamilton, a new friend of Riley’s who likes to do bad things. Looks like True Blood’s season 3 marketing campaign is working. He steals his grandmother’s car and beats her up when she refuses to buy him fried chicken. Sound familiar? It should, because that’s exactly what Latarian Milton did. This news story went viral a few years ago and is the obvious source of the episode’s plot. (Latarian Milton. Lamilton. That’s not even clever.) Watching the episode and watching that youtube video (as well as this one about the fried chicken) you can see that every shot and almost every line of dialogue are taken directly from these interviews.

What the episode does offer is possible explanations for why Lamilton, and bad children in general, behave the way they do. Could it be their surroundings? Lamilton (as well as he his real life counterpart) were born into families of domestic abuse. Could it be film? Lamilton loves watching horror movies. He likes to see people getting hurt, he thinks it’s fun to hurt people. Could it be video games? Lamilton’s grandmother says all 8 year old boys love stealing cars and getting in high speed chases. Is Grand Theft Auto to blame. One interesting observation I made is the environment in which the kids are raised. Both Riley and Lamilton are raised by grandparents. Could something be said about children not raised as part of a nuclear family?

There are a few less infuriating references made in the episode, primarily those related to horror films. Dr. Doomis, a school counselor obsessed with putting Lamilton away, is a allusion to Dr. Loomis from the Halloween franchise. The relationship between Lamilton and Riley was similar to that of Henry and Mark in The Good Son. See McGruder? “Allusion to” and “similar” work just fine. No need to straight up copy. Not even Law & Order 100% copies a story in their “ripped from the headlines” episodes. Cause that makes for bad, boring, redundant television.

This rant review is a short one because when an episode doesn’t have much substance to it you can’t really write much about it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • As if McGruder himself heard my complaint last week about Riley always getting beat up, he finally wins a fight this week in the final confrontation with Lamilton.
  • I only laughed twice this episode. I know exactly because I counted.

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