(Hy)Lights #27: Black JESUS (First Impressions)

Yes, the title says it right.

 

When first hearing about this project, I was a bit skeptical at first being that this is the first live-action project from Aaron McGruder, the creator of The Boondocks. It does partly explain why he wasn’t involved in Season 4 of the aforementioned show (and after watching that, I can see why) and I do want to see how McGruder can bring his humor in live-action and the only thing he’s worked on live-action is Red Tails and that movie didn’t fare well critically or financially. Then again, that movie also had John Ridley as a co-writer and he won an Oscar for writing 12 Years a Slave.

Anyway, the basic premise of the show being set in modern day Compton as Black Jesus sets out his mission to spread love and kindness throughout with his small group of followers.

Now judging by its first episode that aired and guess what?

This is actually pretty witty. I’m liking what I saw from its pilot.

The outrage I get from people who said that the show is offensive because it mocks their savior and there is even boycotts to have the show pulled from the network. Well, I can’t say this is the first time a McGruder property has caused some controversy before but based on what I saw, it never felt they were mocking at him but more with him and he isn’t painted as a joke as many people believed.

Some were offended that they set him up in an area where he hangs out with drug dealers, he curses a lot, turns water into cognac, and smoke blunts.

Uhhhh…….the concept of Jesus has been parodied numerous times before from SNL to Monty Python and hell, even Family Guy manage to do a Black Jesus parody before the actual show appeared. Yes, it can be true in there’s both ways of making fun with him and at him, but what makes this more of the former than the rest?

The character himself, Black Jesus, is a likable comedic lead. Yes, the guy is…..well, Jesus, but he never comes across as a holier-than-thou stick in the mud (you know, like the people protesting against it) and he also helps that he isn’t a black coonish stereotype of a character. He does have a human side and connection that makes you impossible to hate the guy.

Gerald “Slink” Johnson may be a newcomer to most audiences but he did appear in a Boondocks episode in Season 3 where he played Lando, Robert’s ‘supposed’ son and not only that, he’s the voice of Lamar in Grand Theft Auto V and the guy gave a good performance at that, too. There is also the appearance of frequent McGruder collaborators John Witherspoon and Charlie Murphy as Lloyd and Vic, respectively. Some of the supporting characters like Corey Holcomb’s Boonie does have their moments and honestly I can see them being funnier in more episodes to come.

 

SO FAR…..This is history repeating itself for most people as The Boondocks did (well, the first 3 seasons) was experiencing the same ordeals Black Jesus was dealing with as it began airing. Both series may seem offensive only by surface value but you watch it, it does turn out for the better and it does achieve in being funny without stooping to major low-brow levels.

And what does our lord and savior receive?

8.5/10 – High SOLID B.

 

And that’s it from me. I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, your reviewing lord and savior! HA!

 

BLACK JESUS – courtesy of 5 Mutts / Williams Street (Adult Swim)

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