Day 14! We’re officially over halfway to Christmas Day, believe it or not. Today’s piece delves into one boy’s interpretation of that most holy of days in perhaps one of the more truly creative specials out there’s- that’s right, it’s time for Huey Freeman to bring The Boondocks’ special to life.
Show: The Boondocks
Episode: “A Huey Freeman Christmas”
Studio/year released: Adult Swim, 2005
The Boondocks is a show I’ve been meaning to talk about and review on here for a while, but the opportunity never quite presented itself. While a more formal review will still come along at some point, this biting, irreverent, yet very funny show did have a famous Christmas special of its own- and that of course is the topic of the piece at hand- the time Huey Freeman, the main protagonist pictured on the right in this post’s picture- was tabbed to produce his school’s Christmas play.
Featuring the usual Boondocks style of humor and pacing, this special was actually just another episode in season 1. As far as the premise goes, Huey manages to get fully creative control over his class’s play after being initially reluctant when offered by his teacher, and despite having grand sweeping visions of how to produce and perform it, there’s two things that stick in the craw of the powers that be, namely a) the phasing out of students for professional actors in a school play and b) Huey’s creative choice to have a black baby Jesus. The former is something the boy manages to achieve, albeit with some later regret, a full scale PTA protest and boycott, and a lot of string pulling (seriously, just how does he manage to get a bunch of A-listers for such a play?), while the latter proves to be such a radically different vision from what society normally views that it actually compromises the wide public release and attention our protagonist attempts to get for the production at one point. Along the way, both Huey and those involved raise questions about what the season really means, often obfuscated by consumerism, greed and the delicate pull between people and giving what they can, vs pouring everything into something because of the belief you have it (like Huey and his play). In the end, the boy moves on, with a somewhat narssistic attitude about not “looking to the past”- a great irony considering the holy and centuries old origin of what Christmas is.
The B-plot involves a rather humorous, albeit violent handling of Riley Freeman’s anger at Santa Claus for never delivering new rims from years ago, culminating in an assault of a mall Santa and the young man threatening him. This plot blends into neighbor girl Jazmine’s belief in Santa Claus, culminating in Huey’s younger, ruder and more naive brother returning again to attack the stand in Santa- Uncle Ruckus (a recurring character in the show who in true Ruckus fashion, is working yet another odd job.) Again, while dark comedy, this part of the episode also shines light on the effects of consumerism, the mythos of Santa Claus vs the commercial reality people have put in front of them…and of course an excellent excuse for more of the irreverent humor The Boondocks is known for.
As always, this episode is the best of this series in a nutshell- a biting sociopolitical commentary that manages to be both thought provoking and quite humorous. It’s a mature kind of humor, but the kind that might just give you a big laugh at this time of year, provided you’re old enough. There’s a bluntness and crudeness to it that also won’t fit everyone, but it feels real, in a word- perhaps not the characters, but some explorations of how people treat traditions and differences culturally, around this holiday season. Heck, it even takes its own stab at the belief of a child in Santa Claus’s existence, which is an oddly pure belief based on something generally beyond logic and reason called faith. There is an evocatively interesting heart beating beneath it all, and as Huey’s play opens to marvelous, albeit limited audiences and reviews, there’s this moment of both a vision realized and a reality that won, all at once. It’s really something in its own unique way.
As for me, this was both a thought provoking watch in addition to a funny one. It was very fresh and original to what you might expect from this kind of episode, but it worked marvelously well, with all its unexpected twists and turns, complemented by the bluntest of humor and the truly unusual spins on common seasonal themes. Fans of the series probably remember this fondly, but for those out there looking for something that’s both smart and a fair bit stronger in terms of content than the usual Christmas special suspects, try this one out. It’s the chocolate liquer shot in the middle of the milk chocolate candy bowl for the season; see if you want to take the drink or
Like what you see? Big fan of The Boondocks or this episode? Leave a comment!