TV Review: ‘Black Jesus’

Black Jesus TV REVIEW

Crossing the third rails of race and religion, “Black Jesus” is guaranteed to offend some people. In fact, one might accuse Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim of a certain naivete in greenlighting a project where the rewards, even in success, are likely to be overshadowed by the negative blowback, with various faith groups having already weighed in. That said, this live-action series from “The Boondocks'” Aaron McGruder and director Mike Clattenburg is also disarmingly and pretty consistently funny, buoyed by Gerald “Slink” Johnson’s portrayal of You Know Who. Strictly in comedy terms, the road to Hell has been paved with a lot worse shows than this.

At 6’5″, Johnson cuts an imposing figure as the wigged Jesus, who hangs out with a group of pals in Compton (his robe has a way of frequently getting caught in car doors), smokes most of their weed and cheerfully reminds them — when they dare question him — that he “died for your mother-f—— sins.”

With the exception of their landlord (Charlie Murphy), who considers Jesus a con man, everyone pretty much takes it on faith that Jesus is who he claims he is. When asked to perform a miracle, he also reminds them he isn’t in charge of that area. “That’s Pops,” he says.

Jesus’ not-quite-apostles include Fish (Andra Fuller), an ex-con with a temper; Boonie (Corey Holcomb), who’s usually drunk; and Jason (Antwon Tanner), who seems pretty content hanging out and getting high, much to the chagrin of his beautiful girlfriend (Valenzia Algarin), who happens to be a cop. There’s also Boonie’s mom (Angela Gibbs), who loves the Lord, yes, but loves the money she earns selling pot more.

Obviously, “Black Jesus” doesn’t appear overly concerned about trafficking in stereotypes. But there’s a sweetness underneath its scabrous, sacrilegious exterior, as Johnson’s Jesus puts his own spin on all the greatest hits — saying things like, “I still love your bitch ass” — while endeavoring to establish a community garden. (An equal-opportunity offender, in the second episode, that effort runs afoul of Mexican gang members.)

Even on the usually sedate comics page, McGruder has always been an acerbic social commentator, and this series — essentially a live-action cartoon in tone — certainly fits that profile. Indeed, “Black Jesus” is funny in part because it ventures so eagerly into areas most producers and networks, worn down by years of calls for sponsor boycotts and bad publicity, have simply decided it’s easier to avoid.

So while there’s an audience within the Adult Swim profile that should find “Black Jesus” to its liking, the show’s flock had better show up in reasonably good numbers (by latenight standards, anyway), and relatively soon. Because in the modern history of TV, it doesn’t take much to give the higher powers a bad case of cold feet or, when faced with a controversy, prompt them to wash their hands of it.

TV Review: 'Black Jesus'

(Series; Cartoon Network, Thur. Aug. 7, 11 p.m.)

Production

Produced by 5 Mutts Prods., Triage Entertainment and Williams Street.

Crew

Executive producers, Aaron McGruder, Mike Clattenburg, Norman Aladjem, John Bravakis , Stu Schreiberg, Robert Wise, Meghann Collins Robertson; director, Clattenburg; writers, McGruder, Clattenburg; camera, Mark Irwin; production designer, Rob Tokarz; editor, Pamela March; music, Jon Jackson; casting, Amber Bickham. 30 MIN.

Cast

Gerald “Slink” Johnson, Charlie Murphy, Corey Holcomb, John Witherspoon, Kali Hawk, Andra Fuller, Antwon Tanner, Andrew Bachelor, Angela Gibbs, Valenzia Algarin

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  1. Al Griffith says:

    As a believer in God, I find this show to be hilarious. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. God has watched mankind from the beginning. Don’t tell me he does not have a sense of humor. Please do not boycott things you don’t like, just don’t do them Quit imposing your will and values on others. I’m pretty sure this show will not turn anyone away from Jesus, nor will it make anyone want to worship satan. Lighten up!!

  2. The show does offend me, but this is the United States. It’ll go off the air when they can’t sell ad space for it. I’m just waiting for the Adult Swim show called “Gay Mohammed”.

  3. Zach Evans says:

    I think Black Jesus should be removed PERMANENTLY because Jesus didn’t cuss and smoke weed with their buddies and I am HIGHLY OFFENDED by it and its NOT right

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  5. Holliskn says:

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    !.. Красота парусных судов поражает даже тех, кто плохо знаком с морской историей. Их модели представляют собой настоящие произведения искусства, способные украсить всякий чертог, квартиру тож офис. Высококачественные изделия детально копируют определенное известное судно, вошедшее в историю благодаря подвигам своего капитана, участию в боях, завоеваниях, исторически важных миссиях. С такими кораблями могут присутствовать связаны легенды, истории о победах в регатах, рекордах, крушениях.

    Встречаются и модели, представляющие назначенный класс судов: простые, но величественные торговые, рыболовецкие, грузовые. Готовые модели кораблей обладают богатой символикой. Считается, который такое украшение приносит удачу, добро, процветание, «попутный ветер» в делах.

    Высококачественные модели изготавливаются из дерева с использованием металлических, пластиковых и текстильных элементов, с соблюдением пропорций и масштабов прототипа. Это позволяет видеть высокой детализацией, правдоподобностью скульптуры, оценить сумма такелажных линий. Наиболее распространенными являются модели рангоутного типа, т.е. снабженные всем необходимым такелажем, что характерен чтобы реального прототипа.

  6. white guy says:

    This show is hilarious. The comedic timing is spot on. It is neither blasphemous nor sacrilegious. I am not surprised at the negative reaction, though, anything outside the box scares this country this days. And this is definitely outside the box.

  7. Norris Banks says:

    “While some will cringe at his decision to create a comedy in which Jesus hangs out with a group of inner-city misfits, Jesus’ original disciples were hardly men of great stature when they first met God’s son. In fact, Jesus befriended more than a few people of questionable character — such as Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) — whom he befriended because “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

    “Though a pastor might tell these stories in church, such a message of deliverance from a life of sin might not reach deep into McGruder’s audience. Adult Swim has the biggest viewership among basic cable stations for people ages 18-34 and 18-49.”

    “A show that connects Jesus to young people — even one such as Black Jesus — might help reverse their movement away from organized religion. Since the 1970s, the number of people ages 18-29 who are not affiliated with a religion grew from 7% to 32%.”

    “That’s something the show’s detractors should consider before they try to chase Black Jesus off the air.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/08/04/black-jesus-boondocks-adult-swim-aaron-mcgruder-dewayne-wickham/13545753/

    Don’t you Christians have better things to do than attack a television show? The numbers of people that are rejecting your antiquated myth are increasing. This would indicate you are doing something wrong.

    • kendo the monk says:

      As a Christian, I love this show because it is real and harmless. This show does not in any way challenge my spirituality. I love Jesus the Christ and I can also laugh. Like the movie :”Dogma” with Matt Damon, etc., I can laugh at religion but spirituality is about one’s relationship with God and Jesus. I do not drink alcohol but I do like weed AND know I shouldn’t be smoking but seeing stuff like this makes me want to renew my relationship with Christ. I can separate Black Jesus from my personal Jesus and still laugh at this series. Black people love Jesus and this does not make him look bad. Sure, I smarted at some of the language but if this brings people to Christ like Christian Rap, then let us laugh at this comedy and go to church on Sunday. It is only comedy. My only recommendation is that Jesus not use profanity. I hate when comedians use God’s name in vain. Eliminate the profanity and it is a great series.

  8. Von says:

    How many people do I need to sign my petition to get this mess off television? Jesus should not be mocked or down played to help someone try to get rich? When do we draw the line with talent or lack of it?

    • Sam I Am says:

      Hello, dear Von,

      It is understood that you are outraged.
      It is good that you stand up for what you believe in.

      Although, if you believe Jesus, your lord and savior, is being on quote, “Downplayed” because he is a black man, and because Aaron, is trying to make money (something he already does without the series) then you are misled and are very much a racist.

      (Not that black america gives a fuck about you, just a disclaimer…an eye opener)

      I’m quite positive your knowledge of Jesus Christ is shallow.
      Based upon what the visual artist Micheal Angelo interpreted in a painting a.k.a “white jesus”

      That is also fine.

      This is how this artist is communicating a demonstration.

      Not everyone will like it.

      Just like how not everyone “likes” you.
      Bluntly (as an experience that occurs to each and every one of us)

      Calm down, and move on. Monitor your children if you have them.

      If you’re really pissed, create your own media. Level with people and put in the work, that this man did, to communicate to a mass, of what YOU want them to see. Get involved in the Networks.

      Or troll online.

      Those who mind, don’t matter,
      those who matter, don’t Mind

    • Norris Banks says:

      For everyone you get to sign your petition, I’ll get five to sign mine to keep it on the air. Most people are just as fed up with Christians telling them what they can and can’t do or watch as the are with the government telling them the same. Thankfully, Adult Swim will survive no matter what you do, mainly because they don’t cater to your kind. Shows like Family Guy, Moral Oral, and others are Christian free programming for those of us who know religion is a joke. You would be surprised how many Christians watched Black Jesus and laughed their asses off. I was! Such is the hypocrisy of Christianity.

  9. Norris Banks says:

    “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…” . You are obviously NOT a constitutionalist.

    • Joyce Leigh says:

      Another anti Christian project. To be honest, films like Jack & Tollers, a wonderful story about the friendship between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien have not seen the kind of support that this and other anti Christian groups support. It is time for people of good faith to support films that show we can have different ideas and opinions and still be friends. I love their one minute concept trailer.

      http://www.thirddartstudios.com/concept_trailer_for_jack_and_tollers

      I hope that a time comes when it is just as popular to uplift and share our differences as it is today in dragging people down.

      Although I would not support this TV series, I know they have a Right to show it. I just hope others will support ones that are positive in nature as well.

  10. MorrisCK says:

    This was one of worst pieces of garbage I have ever seen. Absolutely TERRIBLE. What an embarrassment. NOTHING funny about this show at all.

  11. Johnny G says:

    Again we see more of the black version being the bad version. When will America let up on the black bad montra. All of this bs is designed to slip in the constant message that black is bad, black is less as a device to keep up the anger and fight. Oh yea it’s just a joke, if we can’t laugh at ourselves shame on us…You see how this all flows together. This is NOT black. WORDS control the world and we all know it. Messaging is the key to moving public opinion. I also call bs on the venturing into new territory artistic, comedic aspect of this crap. PS I am white guy from the south and a republican… and this show sucked.

  12. Norris Banks says:

    I thought ‘Black Jesus’ was an hilariously funny spoof of what a real Jesus might have been if he had been born in Compton. He would have had to relate to the locals using their vernacular. The true load of crap is the bible itself. Most Christians don’t realize this because they have never actually studied the bible.

    • Norris Banks says:

      As a counter evangelist, I have destroyed the myth for many people simply by pointing out the fallacies in the “infallible” word of “God”. You would do well to heed the words of Terence McKenna:

      “Understanding consists of assimilation of patterns encountered in the external world…understanding progresses [with] the assimilation of novel forms of patterns and the modification of previously perceived patterns that such novel patterns introduce. One of the chief resistances to this progress…is the dogmatic tendency to adhere to orthodox modes of assigned patterns [even] when confronted with novel details that call for a reordering of understanding.”

      When you understand this and apply it, you can finally release the chains attached from your mind to that fictional work you call the bible. Until then you will continue to be a slave.

      Organized Religion is the greatest practical joke that man has ever played on himself. Followed closely by Government, these two institutions are the hard liquor and cigarettes of the human race, self-destructive bad habits that humanity is hopelessly addicted to.

    • Norris Banks says:

      Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
      — Edward Gibbon

      You are common, neither wise nor a ruler, which is why you believe in the biblical myth.

  13. Tim says:

    I, (out of curiosity) tried to watch it to see what all the hype was about. I couldn’t make it past the first 5 minutes. Some lines you just do no cross. Jesus smoking weed and cussin? Really? I’m spiritual but I do have an open mind, and even I couldn’t stomach this.

  14. NHBill says:

    It’s very, very funny not only walking the religious tightrope but the racial stereotype tightrope as well.
    I’m not convinced they won’t fall off but the pilot was very promising.

  15. Donna says:

    CARTOON NETWORK! Not Comedy Central. I would expect as much from Comedy Central. So we go from Scooby Doo to Black Jesus. Where are our heads, people?!

    • Norris Banks says:

      That is why Adult Swim is at night when the kiddies are (or should be) in bed. Scooby Doo is for them, Adult Swim is Cartoon Network for adults.

  16. Jacques Strappe says:

    This looks hysterically funny. Kudos to Comedy Central for this divinely subversive take on Jesus. Humorless Christians and racists are not the demographic the creators are trying to reach, I suspect.

    • Norris Banks says:

      I wouldn’t put too much into Janice K’s comments. After all, she is a Christian and you are right, they are humorless. They should drink more blood of Jesus ( communion wine ). Maybe that will loosen them up.

      P.S.
      Drinking blood! Now THAT is disgusting.

    • Janice K says:

      This is an idiotic load of crap. Whoever greenlighted this at Comedy Central should be fired. A black, profane Jesus in a profanity-filled ghetto. Absolute horse shit.

      • R. Cole says:

        So Jesus couldn’t be black or associate with people in the ghetto? 2014 Jesus would only be around rich white people? Why would he hang out with people he can’t relate to?

      • Norris Banks says:

        Does profanity include phrases like “horse shit”? As a Christian, is it alright for you to use profanity? This sort of confusion is what amuses me about religion. Jews and Moslems consider Jesus’ alleged claim to be the “begotten” son of god “horse shit”, and yet you swear by it, even though he never made that claim. That is church dogma. You Christians are so confused and brainwashed. Sometimes that is funnier than Black Jesus!

  17. Candice says:

    This sounds FAR WORSE than I first thought. Absolute garbage.

  18. Darrin says:

    Doesn’t sound like anyone that believes in God would want to see this piece of trash.

    • Tim says:

      Man I couldn’t stomach past 5 minutes of that show. Some lines aren’t meant to be crossed.

      • Teresa says:

        I too couldn’t get past the first 5 minutes. I found it appalling and crude. I didn’t have a problem with a Black man playing Jesus, we are all one in Him. The script was pure blasphemy; and on the Cartoon Network??

    • NHBill says:

      At it’s core it’s message or love and the golden rule just might surprise you.

      • Tim says:

        I have an open mind and can find humor in most things. But this was a little too much. I found it disrespectful.

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