"The Itis" is the 10th episode of the 1st season of The Boondocks. It originally aired on January 22, 2006.
With financial help from Ed I, Robert opens a soul food restaurant called The Itis. However, Huey protests the extremely unhealthy food they serve, which corrupts both the physical and social health of the surrounding neighborhood's residents.
- An Aesop:
- Eat healthy, or else you'll turn into a disgusting fat blob addicted to junk food.
- More generally, it's not a good idea to just blindly follow any harmful traditions just because it's a part of your cultural heritage.
- Aesop Amnesia: Janet, one of the Itis' customers, displays a major case of this. She became addicted to their food, and turned grotesquely overweight in the process. Even after reverting back to her original weight, not to mention trying to sue the restaurant for emotional and health damages, she makes a request for one last Luther Burger. She immediately suffers a heart attack (though thank goodness that Chico knew how to do CPR on her).
- Aluminum Christmas Trees:
- Contrary to what viewers may have assumed, this episode didn't invent the Luther Burger. Although they sure did make the burger garner a lot more attention and popularity (in spite of the episode bad-mouthing it for detrimental nutrition). It's just as bad as the episode makes it out to be.
- Despite what you may presume, Soul Food is in fact a real movie. They even Break The Fourth Wall by pausing the episode's action to explain the film's plot.
- Bad Boss: Ed Wuncler arbitrarily fires the entire staff of a vegetarian restaurant, except for the illegal immigrants from Mexico, before he converts the place into a soul food restaurant. Subverted with the illegal workers as far as we see he treats them ok aside the whole paid under the counter deal. This is because illegal immigrants get paid even less than minimum wage, work very long hours and do not receive any employee benefits.
- The Bad Guy Wins: In the end, Ed Wuncler I succeeds with his ultimate goal: devalue the nearby Meadowlark Park, so that he can buy the land and develop over it. See Evil Plan.
- Big Damn Heroes: While The Itis shuts down, Janet asks for one last Luther Burger, which gives her a heart attack. Fortunately, a random Mexican employee named Chico knew CPR.
- Book-Ends: At the beginning, the Freeman/DuBois families and Wuncler have a big Sunday dinner of soul food and everyone falls asleep except Huey, who gets stuck doing the dishes. At the end, they have a more healthy Sunday dinner that sends everyone running for the bathroom - all except Huey, who again ends up on dishwashing duty.
- Break the Cutie: Sarah silently suffers as her heart is broken by Riley insulting her cooking. She was also probably fighting back tears.
- Chekhov's Skill: Chico took a class at a community college between his cooking shifts where he learned CPR. He applies this knowledge to resuscitate Janet.
- Critical Research Failure: Downplayed: when summarizing the plot of Soul Food, Huey states that Big Mama needed an arm amputated, only for Robert to angrily correct him.Huey: (as Big Mama is in a hospital bed) Then, get this, Big Mama's arteries are so clogged, they gotta amputate her arm. (cutting sound; Big Mama's arm is replaced with a bandaged stump)
Robert: It was her leg.
Huey: (dismissive) Right, okay, whatever, leg. (Big Mama's arm returns; leg is replaced with a bandaged stump)
- Culture Justifies Anything: Robert thinks soul food's significance to African-American culture justifies serving it despite its horrible fat content. Huey doesn't think it matters, especially when the restaurant ends up destroying the neighborhood. The restaurant's cook Chico chimes in that soul food originated as cooking the offal available to slaves, and people certainly shouldn't be eating it all the time.Huey: This food is destructive!
Robert: This food is your culture!
Huey: Then the culture is destructive!
- Deep-Fried Whatever: Robert is such a junk food addict that he deep fries everything he eats — including broccoli.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The episode shows the negative effects of junk food (which is also used as a metaphor for drugs) on society. The area near Meadowlark Park starts out as a respectable middle-class neighborhood, but quickly degenerates into a ghetto riddled with crime and poverty.
- Don't Ask, Just Run: Huey wants to stop Robert's restaurant even as he's forced to work as a waiter, and eventually just starts telling the customers to go away.Customer: Let's see. Um, this is my first time here, but all my friends rave about it. What's good?
Huey: Oh, everything here will kill you. Run.
- Evil Plan: Ed I agrees to help Robert open The Itis, knowing that the restaurant's presence in the neighborhood will cause poverty, increased crime rates, and lowered property values, so that he can buy the nearby Meadowlark Park at a deep discount.
- Food Coma: The episode more or less revolves around this trope(called "the itis, as it's one of the main driving points of the restaurant's business, which is even named, "The Itis".
- Foreshadowing: When showing Robert where the restaurant is, Ed Wuncler mentions he'd buy the park across the street if he didn't think the city was asking for too much. His wording is a blatant hint that hiring Robert was just a scheme to devalue the park.I've been trying to buy that park for years, but the state is trying to buttfuck me on the price. But we'll see who buttfucks who.
- Here We Go Again!:
- The characters change their cuisine/eating habits so that rather than fall asleep, they now have to go the bathroom.
- Huey points out that Big Mama's family from Soul Food after grieving Big Mama's death to diabetes caused by soul food still continued to indulge in soul food.
- Hidden Depths: Chico, a busboy/waiter at the Itis who's an illegal alien from Mexico, proves to be surprisingly knowledgeable on African-American history (he explains further context about soul food). And he can perform CPR. All from a few community college classes.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Chico is a really good employee, knows CPR and black history, and had a cousin helping with the bed hydraulics.
- Hypocrite: Robert calls out Riley for calling Sarah's peach cobbler "vomit with peas in it". Robert asserts it is not and it only looks like it. Then again, Robert is almost always the same person Riley is.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Not only does The Itis' disgusting soul food cause obesity and increase the risk of heart disease, it's so addicting that the customers keep making return trips to the restaurant, losing their jobs and homes in the process, and they turn to crime to (literally) feed their habit.Riley: This is what crack must feel like.
- Left the Background Music On: During the Rap Song Montage, The fat lady tries to get the Luther Burger. However, the other lady stabbed the other in the hand, and the rap song suddenly fades out and stops.
- Nausea Dissonance: All of Granddad's food clearly look disgusting and revolting, yet this doesn't stop anyone from eating it up.
- Nutritional Nightmare: All of The Itis' food. The most prominent item on the menu is the "Luther Burger", which is a full-pound burger patty, covered in cheese, with grilled onions, five strips of bacon, and two Krispy Kreme donuts as buns. Other disgusting and terrible foods include broccoli boiled in ham broth, and "two pig knuckles glazed in honey; pig tongue marinated in butter for two days; chitterlings soaked in hot sauce, drizzled in mayonnaise, and then set to harden on our back porch in three pounds of cheddar cheese".Huey: Sausage and waffle and fried chicken breakfast lasagna? Bacon-wrapped chitlin stuffed catfish? Grandad, you can't serve this kind of food to people. It'll cause... death.
- Ordered Apology: During the Sunday dinner at the Freeman house, Riley rudely complains about Sarah DuBois' peach cobbler out loud, so Robert tries to force him to apologize. When Riley gives an insincere, Backhanded Apology to Sarah, they continue arguing until Robert gives Riley a beating.Riley: Mrs. DuBois, I'm sorry your cobbler look like throw-up with peas in it.
- Restaurant-Owning Episode: Or rather, Robert gets to manage a restaurant owned by Ed Wuncler for an episode.
- Saw It in a Movie Once: Robert only wanted his own soul food restaurant, just cause of the Soul Food movie he saw on cable.
- Self-Serving Memory: According to Robert, Soul Food got the idea of Sunday dinners from him, not the other way around.
- Special Guest: Edward Asner as Ed Wuncler I, and Candi Milo as Janet.
- Temporary Bulk Change: Robert meets a slim and attractive female customer named Janet... but when he meets her again several weeks later, she has turned into an obese food-junkie addicted to Luther Burgers. Though Janet later loses all that weight through liposuction and gastric bypass surgery. And then she threatens a lawsuit against The Itis, forcing it to close down.
- Too Dumb to Live: Even after Janet is forced to go through gastric bypass surgery and immediate liposuction because of all the soul food she's eaten, she still requests another Luther Burger.
- Villain Has a Point: Despite the detrimental health effects the soul food is having on the entire town as a whole making them too sleepy, obese and animalistic to resume their lives as usual, Robert still refuses to shut down his restaurant. Ed Wuncler has to step in and call out Robert that opening the Itis was a mistake.
- Villain Over for Dinner: Robert invites Ed Wuncler I over for dinner twice in this episode.
- Wretched Hive: The neighborhood around Meadowlark Park in Woodcrest actually starts out as a decent middle-class community. Unfortunately, The Itis has such a toxic effect that the area turns into an impoverished (white-majority) ghetto almost overnight. The soul food turns its customers into fat, lazy junkies who become unemployed and homeless, so they resort to mugging other people just to get more Luther Burgers. The crime problem becomes so severe that police and emergency services refuse to go anywhere near the restaurant at night.