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Adult Swim Removes Offensive Episodes of Three Animated Series

Episodes from ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force,’ ‘The Boondocks,’ and ‘The Shivering Truth’ have quietly disappeared from the network’s library, and are not part of show libraries licensed to HBO Max.

Episodes from the animated series Aqua Teen Hunger ForceThe Boondocks, and The Shivering Truth are no longer available for streaming on Adult Swim due to current “sensitivities,” according to an exclusive The Daily Beast report.

The episodes in question are as follows:

  • In the 2009 Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Season 6 episode “Shake Like Me, named as an homage to John Howard Griffin’s eye-opening 1961 book, "Black Like Me," a Black man irradiated by toxic waste bites Shake, turning him “stereotypically” Black in manner and appearance. In his book, Griffin, a white journalist, shares how he painted his skin black and traveled for six weeks in 1959 throughout the Deep South; several years after his books successful release, in 1964, Griffin was badly beaten by a group of white men in Mississippi as he stopped to fix a flat tire, requiring five months to recover.
  • The incomplete and unreleased Season 5 episode called “Boston,” a parody of the accidental 2007 bomb scare caused by an ill-conceived but harmless promotion of the animated feature film, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. According to posts on Reddit, “Shake Like Me” had reappeared on the streamer in August, only to come down again several days later.
  • A Season 3 The Boondocks episode, “The Story of Jimmy Rebel,” one of the supposedly “banned” episodes of the Aaron McGruder biting, hard hitting, and highly controversial 2005 series. The episode centers on Uncle Ruckus’ relationship with an extremely racist Country and Western singer, whose albums include white-supremacist titles like Real N****** Never Die, They Just Smell That Way.
  • The surreal stop-motion series The Shivering Truth episode, “Ogled Inklings.”

The report notes that the omissions of “Jimmy Rebel” and “Shake Like Me” from HBO Max came after the streamer’s two-season reimagined The Boondocks reboot ordered last Fall.

At the time of that announcement, HBO Max stated that series creator McGruder was coming back as series showrunner and executive producer. The new series order of 24 episodes is supposed to launch this fall with a 50-minute special. HBO Max was supposedly launching this past May with the entire 55-episode original series library, now reportedly 54. Like its predecessor, the new series is based on McGruder’s widely syndicated comic strip, “The Boondocks,” which both depicted and presaged the nation’s most roiling cultural issues, earning the author a Peabody Award, and the devotion of fans who see him as both the voice, and the Nostradamus of his generation.

An HBO Max spokesperson told AWN, “These episodes were never available on Max. We didn’t pull them. They were never part of our licensing deal because Adult Swim didn’t include them.” 

The Daily Beast reports that according to a representative from Adult Swim, they’re not available anywhere because both “Shake Like Me” and “Jimmy Rebel” have been “permanently retired due to cultural sensitivities,” with no date planned for their return to streaming. “When Adult Swim transitions series to a new platform,” the representative clarifies, “we determine what episodes are selected through creative and cultural filters and our standards and practices policies. Oftentimes these decisions are made in collaboration with the show’s creators.”

This representative also revealed that Adult Swim has “temporarily rested” the third episode of Adult Swim’s surreal stop-motion series The Shivering Truth, “Ogled Inklings,” due “to sensitivity around current events.” The publication goes on to note that The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder, through a representative, declined to comment.

The Daily Beast also reports that Adult Swim opted to “retire” and “rest” these three episodes without releasing an official statement. “Ogled Inkling,” retired due “to sensitivity around current events,” remains available for purchase on YouTube.

Head on over to the Daily Beast for more on this story.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.