Disclaimer Number One: I love doing recaps…but they’re exhausting, so I won’t be doing recaps of Black Jesus episodes. However, because I think its interesting enough as a topic and because I haven’t seen much buzz about it since it launched, I will be checking in every couple of episodes to give some brief impressions, character examinations and ultimately to let you know if I plan to keep watching or not.
Disclaimer Number Two: If you find the existence of a purposefully ridiculous and fictitious live action show of a ratchet Jesus Christ in Compton, CA, 2014, then just stop reading now. Seriously. Don’t waste your time on this column when you could be at Bible study. I’m serious as a resurrection people, don’t come trolling my timeline or the website talking about how disrespectful or morally corrupt the existence of this show is cuz nobody got time for all that. No disrespect to the flock, but I swear, if you bring that noise to my doorstep, I don’t care how much of Christ’s love you hold in your heart, I will send the Romans to put paws on you. Aiight?
I’ve watched the first two episodes of Aaron McGruder’s Black Jesus and honestly, I’m intrigued to see where it goes. I mean, its not actually going anywhere; there’s not a divine plot of redemption and God’s graces or opposing fallen angel as an antagonist. It is simply saying, what happens if the crazy dude in the hood you know that is always on the corner, claiming he hears voices speaking to him, but is always asking you for a loose cigarette, then says, God Bless you in the most polite way when you can’t help, was in fact, Jesus. Since this is a comedy, the most essential, non-secular question is this: is it funny? My early assessment is yes, it is. While wholly different from The Boondocks, there is no question once the dialogue cranks up, that this is a McGruder product. The character interactions are clever, funny and unflinching. The ridiculousness of the situations and mindstates of the characters is often used to illuminate some actual real world social issues, but not to the level that Huey or Riley’s presence used to do. Mostly, this is just straight comedy and as a comedic show, it works.
The cast is fairly equipped. Most of Jesus’ flock are pretty one dimensional, there to deliver funny or crazy dialogue when needed, except for Maggie played by Kali Hawk, who got a little bit more time due to her Facebook drama. Charlie Murphy and John Witherspoon are good and provide a sufficient antagonizing agent to Jesus, even if they aren’t doing much more than portraying themselves in the roles. Still, Charlie Murphy as your Fed Up landlord and John Witherspoon as the homeless drunk are still gonna be hilarious in most situations you place them in. But really, we talkin bout Jesus people. Gerald “Slink” Johnson who plays the titular savior probably isn’t the Jesus we need or deserve, but he is funny. Ironically (or actually not ironic at all) if you replace the overt misogyny and affinity for violence with a strong sense of faith and healing power, the character isn’t too different from his voiced character Lamar from Grand Theft Auto V. Still, he fills out the responsibilities well, whether he’s saying “Heaven’s Naw” or stopping a conflict by throwing a rock, but then healing the assailant instantly.
For now, it’s got my attention. Not necessarily to set the DVR for it, but to sitting around on a Saturday afternoon and thinking “I wonder what happened on Black Jesus this week,” I’m with it. The story through two episodes has Jesus and his flock trying to put together a community garden.
To feed the community. To grow weed. Yeah, I’m gonna leave that right there…but I’ll still be back next week. For now.