"Black Jesus" Season Three Talkback (Spoilers)

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Seriously? On an entire board dedicated to Adult Swim there isn't a single talkback dedicated to the single best original show they have ever created? Arguably the ONLY worthwhile thing that unfunny stoner network created themselves? Seriously?! I do not understand the internet at all.

If this talkback get fewer responses than Mike Tyson Mysteries' talkback, I'm hopping on Professor Farnsworth's spaceship. I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Feel good and ashamed yet? All right then. Time to review the episode. It was a gem.

Black Jesus "The Compton Carter"

Finally! The return of the only decent original series on Adult Swim! The schedule is basically cluttered with reruns of Fox Toons and utter crap (although Final Space is pretty spiffy) and this show is a breath of fresh air.

It's been awhile since I've reviewed this, so let me briefly go over why this show is so great.

On the surface, it's offensive to Christians. Jesus is profane, He's often a criminal, and He smokes weed. But if you look past those specific things, the character of Jesus is every bit as wonderful and accurate to the Bible as He should be. He's loving, He's friendly, He's forgiving, and He's an occasional total badass, which are all traits from the Bible. And the show has Jesus preach morals that are relevant to today such as how bad the senseless incarceration of black men has gotten. In fact, the judge is so moved by His pleas that she drops all charges against him. At least until He curses and is given six months in prison for contempt. If the real Jesus turned out to be exactly like this, I don't think there would be any wars. I could totally see an entire religion being founded upon this specific lovable guy, but I'd find the idea of wars in His name absolutely ludicrous. The main irony of show to me is aptly demonstrated in the teaser where Jesus is running from the cops because He's black. If Jesus came back preaching the things He did in the Bible He'd be strung up by the people who currently claim to love Him. And if He were black? It's like the show delivers the perfect version of Jesus and conservatives lose their crap for surface reasons. And that's part of the subversion of the show. Aaron McGruder is proving once and for all that the same people who claim to love Jesus's message would reject it if it didn't conform to what their ideas of propriety entailed. If you are religious you can learn something from this show. If you aren't religious, you can learn something too. It's amazing on every level.

Do you know what amuses me about the complaint that Jesus smokes weed? The so-called fundamentalists seem to believe Jesus operates under man's laws. Aren't we supposed to be a nation under God according to them? If Jesus smokes weed on this show, it means smoking weed is okay, at least on this show. It doesn't mean people who don't like weed get to act like they know better than Jesus if he came back and decided to partake. It is SO weird the things that upset fundamentalists. They claim to love Jesus, but they sure seem to believe they know better than him.

I adore the idea that Vic is in Heaven. Because although he rejected Jesus, he never rejected the idea of God. What a great tribute to Charlie Murphy at end for Vic who was one of the few characters on the show you were supposed to outright dislike. But Jesus never did, and it's wonderful He's happy Vic is in Heaven.

"Jesus Christ! Just give me the effing weed!" "My love for you is infinite, but eff you, man." How can anyone hate that? It's beautiful.

What I especially love about the show is that there are people on the show who correctly lecture Jesus when He is failing the people, or not living up to God's standards. Jesus is 2000 years old and doesn't have a job? Why doesn't He lead the criminals He hangs out with by example instead of just chilling with them? Jesus does not make judgments on people, which is nice. But He could set a better example if He wanted to. Jesus on this show is human, and I relate to Him and believe in Him more because of it. My Christianity has sort of lapsed for real-world political reasons. For a half-hour a week, it comes back as I watch this show and then review it. Jesus on this show is everything He should be, and everything we should want Him to be. McGruder is very clever to make such a wonderful person be so objectionable to conservatives in the audience. He's getting people to reject the very thing they claim they value, and showing the hypocrisy. And that will make people uncomfortable. You know what? Back in the day, JESUS made people uncomfortable. And He made the correct people uncomfortable. It's only fitting a fictionalized version of Him is doing the exact same thing 2000 years later.

This show is amazing and I'm glad it's back. I think The Boondocks cartoon wound up a disappointment, even before McGruder left, but Black Jesus is the real deal. It is the only worthwhile thing on Adult Swim. And it's not even a cartoon! *****.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "Vatican Guys"

This episode has a premise I always half-wished the series would have the guts to do, and half-believed they didn't need to. But if you laid out all of the episode synopses for the season ahead of time, Black Jesus getting kidnapped by the Vatican is a can't-miss premise.

They sort of missed. And I'm really disappointed by that. So much time was taken up by the Vatican guys getting robbed and beaten up in Compton, and then the stuff with Miss Tudy and the Yoga women, and it's like the episode this entire series should have built towards isn't actually about Jesus, which cheeses me off, pardon the pun.

I also felt the Cardinal's portrayal was off. He's a vulgar, violent sociopath. He doesn't actually need to be for the premise to work. I get that's McGruder's shot at organized religions and their perversions of Jesus's word. But I like it when those specific shots are credible. Black Jesus is not usually portrayed as a live-action cartoon, but when he's telling the guys to drop their drawers and show him their balls, I didn't have the faith in that moment I usually have for the rest of the show. If McGruder wants to turn the show into a cartoon, that's up to him. But I don't feel it's actually been that before now.

I love the crazy wheelchair guy being asked who he didn't hate. "Michelle Obama." Correct answer.

Boonie had an interesting observation about Italian suits, that's true, but I'd never heard before. They all look incredibly cheap, and yet they cost a fortune. I'm not saying the lining and fabric aren't divine, and that they don't hold up. But they look incredibly tacky considering how pricey they are. Gold toilets cost a fortune. Does anybody serious think Donald Trump is classy for crapping in them? Those suits look more like movie costumes than actual clothing. And that's not really something I've seen pointed out before. But it's true.

The Vatican guy cluelessly calling Lloyd "Mr. N-word" is something only Aaron McGruder could get away with. No white actor could get away with that if the show weren't from McGruder.

It's been so long since the show has been on the air, so I don't know if it's been addressed and I just forgot or not, but Jesus says when He was crucified, He was already black. He didn't just come back black to Compton to make a statement. On this show He was always black. I was not aware of that, and the nature of how and why Jesus came back was always kept vague before now. You know what? I like learning details like that a little bit at a time. I appreciate that the shows leaves us with a lot of questions, but if they DO feel the need to answer some of them, I prefer dribs and drabs through a line here or there. I think the show's Jesus works so well for me because He is up for interpretation. There was a point early in season one where you could reasonably think Vic was right and Jesus was a conman. We didn't start off the series seeing Him performing miracles, or at least not miracles that couldn't be explained other ways. And it's been sort if a process to get us to the Vatican episode and the true skeptics.

I agree with Jesus being upset with the idea of having to resurrect His friends every time they get their fool selves killed. I think that is Jesus's inner flock taking Him for granted, and not appreciating His message. Jesus is the Son of God, not His pals' deus ex machina. And I don't think Boonie and Ms. Tudy quite get that.

Jesus is called a virgin in this episode and doesn't deny it. Really, I don't see how this show can offend conservatives as long as they are writing Jesus like that.

I think the one moment I loved and thought was perfectly this show, was Jesus simply handing the gun back to the Vatican guy without a second thought. It doesn't occur to Him to use it to escape his predicament. I especially love that Jesus sort of hints that things going down this way were all part of God's plan. And maybe that's the reason Jesus heals His friends this particular time. So There Are Witnesses.

It's interesting that Lloyd recognizes the Vatican rings because he's sober. That worried me. Because it means Lloyd is actually pretty sharp. And considering he's such a bad person, that's an alarming thing. I think there was a lot of ignorance attached to Vic being the show's antagonist. I think if Jesus has a sharp enemy, things might not go so well for Jesus's friends. Before being called "Mr. N-word" one of the Vatican guys calls him Judas, which is freaking apt. And I am very aware of the specific damage Judas did to Jesus in the Bible. Lloyd being mistaken for that was either a cheap joke, or a larger hint at something sinister coming. I can't actually decide which of those two things I wish it was.

I feel this was a can't miss episode that missed. On the other hand, it's This Show, so even if they did wrong by the Golden Premise, there was still a lot of other stuff in the episode to like. ***1/2.
 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "After Parole Officer"

It's interesting that Tyler the white parole officer is a good guy, and it's also interesting that his girlfriend's objections to Boonie are legitimate. Boonie's behavior was super gross. I don't like the idea that the show might be saying that black people don't know how to behave themselves. On the other hand, I thought Jesus was a wonderful houseguest, although like Cassandra said, He should have been objecting to the b-word more than He did.

Seeing the smoke coming out of Jesus' mouth makes me laugh. As did "Christ lives matter!"

"You got money? Let's get some weed!" I love this Jesus, and He is very close to my ideal version of that person. But there is no denying He's kind of a bum.

Is Cassandra right? Is Boonie racist against black people? I don't think so. I think that's a wrong-headed opinion. I'm white and I have harsh things to say about white people, but I'm not racist against them. There is an entirely different subtext to Boonie saying those things than if Cassandra said them herself. And that is very much Aaron McGruder's influence on the show. If anything he criticizes black culture more than he does white culture. But I don't think he's a racist for it.

Jesus sort of hints Fish, Trayvon, and Maggie are dead, and I don't like that. But I DO like the idea that they are in Heaven. Very much.

A good week. ****.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "Operation Shut'emdown"

I dunno. The ones without Jesus front and center don't tend to work for me. I'm gonna say, I disliked that.

Why? It wasn't any one thing. The episode started off promising, with the tourists and the drive-by, and them applauding, and Boonie and Jesus being outraged by that, and the fact that the woman didn't pay for the weed. And I thought it was beyond subversive that nobody in the tour group got a scratch on them. They are privilege personified, and nothing will shake their beliefs that this is just a game for people below their station. This is a questionable moral on a show where God exists, but good Lord, I recognized some of these wannabes.

But the episode is very quick to lose me. When Boonie is teaching his daughter how to bag weed to improve her math skills, I'm thinking that as horrible as it is that the tourists devalue the characters' lives, it's clear they don't value them themselves all that much.

I also found Lloyd bathing in booze completely degrading. I get John Witherspoon is a comic actor, but that's not something you should ever ask an actor to do. I felt the same about Shalinka and the ice pop. The jokes weren't funny, and did not justify making the actors look that bad.

I did like two things as the episode went on. One of them did, in fact, involve Shalinka, in her empathizing with the guy whose military service messed him up, but waving the gun in his face to let him know she wasn't going to tolerate his insanity either. That was both funny and touching, which is the entire selling point of the show.

The other thing has of course to do with Jesus, or at least the implications of Jesus. Ms. Tudi begs off testing the boner pills on Jesus because he supposedly can do nothing with them. Jesus doesn't disagree, but I wonder. It strikes me as far more likely that the magic of Jesus involves equipment that DOES work, and him never getting tempted to use it instead.

Also, Jesus on Viagra would be the show exploring the correct controversy. Boonie is an easy laugh, but a far less interesting choice.

I also found the idea that he does not like the idea of fake Viagra because it's getting the old people's hopes up. It's not the premarital sex Jesus objects to, it's mistreating the elderly. Which is SO him and so this show.

The tour guide claims that since the average lifespan of a drug dealer is 28 years old, that those two were clearly past their prime. Personally, I think one of those people being Jesus H. Everlasting Christ messes with that specific statistic entirely.

Jesus claims God gave old people technology because he finds that funny. Read the Old Testament. God is NOT above torturing innocent people for his own amusement. The math on that checks out. McGruder did his homework there and showed his work.

I'm giving that a negative grade and review. *1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "Boonie Christ"

I love that the gang is chasing Boonie because Jesus passes out hugs to them every week. That is seriously great. It's all about God's love. That's the thing that actually matters.

I love when Boonie prays for true love, Shalinka appears, and he's too clueless to realize the spell worked.

I love when Shalinka calls Jesus on his crap. It's so endearing. And yeah, the parting of the pool is a pretty significant sign.

I love Jesus calling the painting of himself a "baller-ass portrait". I love the way Jesus talks on this show.

That was great. ****.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "The Compton Crusader"

So I was looking for the tribute card for John Witherspoon and it wasn't there. That was annoying.

I somehow think the idea of Black Jesus is much more believable than Black Superman. Honestly, Jesus's goal is nice, but I think misguided. I expected the episode to be a bigger deal than it was when he pulled a gun on Jesus and threatened to kill him. As Lloyd said, that's been tried before.

Instead Jesus convinces him he's Superman instead. I don't agree that Jesus need to be free of sin to have value to Christianity. But I kind of feel like he shouldn't intentionally lie to someone, no matter how good his intentions are when doing it. I felt much comfortable with the idea that the first thing Jesus asks people is if they have weed. For some reason, that goes down easier.

Black Jesus is at its best when it delivers a big message making you realize the goofiness is just for show and the show is actually a great Biblical allegory. I felt like this could have been one of those episodes, but it disappointingly fell a little short. **1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "Hair Tudi"

You know what? That was racist. I love Aaron McGruder, but like Martin Luther King saying the n-word on The Boondocks, this is not something I can defend. As a white person, perhaps my radar is a bit off here. But I know ugliness when I see it.

That being said, there were a number of good things in the episode, which was not usually true for the most Uncle Ruckus of Boondocks episodes. I continue to be shocked at how much I enjoy Shalinka. She is a black woman stereotype, and yet I find the way she speaks great. It's both deliberate and realistic at the same time. It's like they are feeding into the worst stereotypes of black women while having her say shockingly insightful things in that droning way. I find that contradiction very interesting, and something that endears the character to me. It's the fact that Boonie is an idiot which is why I don't feel comfortable with the stereotypes he indulges in. The fact that Shalinka is together makes her funny instead.

"Spell that." Yeah, Shalinka's a keeper.

I was alarmed and a bit uncomfortable with much of Jesus's portrayal here. There were definitely good things about it, but when the Korean woman calls him a liar, she's actually right. That's the show writing the character wrong. Similarly, Jesus' role on the show should be as Ms. Tudi's moral compass. And yet he doesn't say a word about her human trafficking. That is not something Jesus would have tolerated in a previous season. Maybe he wouldn't have stopped her in years past, but his complaining about it would have been unending. He'd be brow-beating her until she gave in to shut him up. Here he doesn't even act like it's an issue.

I liked him complaining that his weed high was getting effed up though. That's just perfect. I like when Jesus complains about petty things. But he used to actually complain about things that matter too.

What's the point of Jesus's superpowers if Boonie can be taken hostage while he's freaking with him?

Ms. Tudi said something about Boonie that says she's a despicable person, and yet, like I GET it. She doesn't actually want him back. She just doesn't want that b-word to have him. I don't approve of those sentiments from any mother. But after witnessing Boonie's gross love-making earlier in the episode, I still understand it.

I love the show exploring the controversy of European beauty standards and black people's hair. And of course that leads back to Jesus being accused of treating his hair. If you REALLY want to piss Jesus off, don't lend money in the temples. Tell him he's wearing a perm.

I loved the montage of where Ms. Tudi was getting the hair from. That was funny in the way the shaved Asian slave women were not.

No tribute card for John Witherspoon again. Although he wasn't in the episode, so that may explain it. Either they are saving it for an episode where he has a big role, or for the finale. But I don't like waiting.

Not liking this week. **1/2.
 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "Boonie Comes Up"

I still can't believe they didn't give John Witherspoon a tribute card at the end. He's literally yelling into the camera in the last shot. That would have been perfect.

Thing got a little too ridiculous and stereotyped by the end, but I definitely liked some of it. The Boonie stuff was stupid (per usual) but I like that the judge just thinks Jesus is crazy. I love Jesus giving the bailiff the magic autograph too.

For the record, I love that Jesus refuses to resurrect Tookie at the beginning because he's evil. I like when the show takes stands like that. Similarly I love the perplexed look on his face when he's trying to cast the demon out of Boonie and mistakes it for Trump. Nobody will ever accuse Aaron McGruder's politics of being subtle. But in that moment, he didn't need them to be.

I'm torn. I really liked the first half, but the end turned into Jerry Springer. And I freaking HATE Jerry Springer. ***.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "God's Team"

This season has been a huge disappointment but this episode is a return to form. This is why I watch the show.

I loved Jesus' speech to Brenda to tell her she was one of a kind and God had a plan for her. And I love him giving both sides pizza and telling the kids they were going to be the generation to end all of this racial nonsense. This is a surprisingly feel-good show when it wants to be.

Coach Whiteman was a pretty good stand-in for the conservative critics of the show. Jesus is black, therefore the show is offensive. It doesn't actually work that way.

I'm relieved to see an episode I loved. ****11/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Black Jesus "The Real Jesus Of Compton"

Most of this was offensive nonsense, but I kind of dug Jesus' reactions to various things. When he privately says that the punks who crucified him knew what they did, you kind of got the impression he'd been holding onto that secret opinion for 2000 years. And it was refreshing to hear it.

This is the finale, right? And still no tribute card for John Witherspoon? This season has been a major disappointment.

I think when Jesus called this an ill-thought out Dave Chappelle skit, that was right on the money. Aaron McGruder could probably stand a freak-out and existential crisis about this stuff himself. **1/2.
 

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