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Western Animation / Legends of Chamberlain Heights

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Legends of Chamberlain Heights is a 2016 Comedy Central animated series created by Brad Ableson, Mike Clements, Quinn Hawking, Josiah Johnson and Michael Starrbury, who also make up most of the voice cast.

The show is centered around three inner-city high school freshmen; Grover Cummings, "Milk" Milton and Jamal, who attend the Michael Clarke Duncan High School in the neighborhood of Chamberlain Heights. The three dream of achieving basketball glory and becoming "legends", especially Grover, whose older brother Montrel was a hugely successful high school basketball player before he turned into a washed-up has-been. Unfortunately, the three have dreams that don't match up with their actual skills, and are unable to escape their hated roles as benchwarmers. On top of that, they're subject to the cruel social realities of high school. Rounding out the cast is Grover's 8-year-old drug-dealing brother Malik, his love interest Cindy, Jerk Jock bully Randy, Jamal's on-off girlfriend Medina, and Jamal's identical sister Shamal.

Despite a very mixed response and a serious case of Broken Base, Chamberlain was renewed for a second season before it even premiered. Similar to an earlier Comedy Central series, Brickleberry, the show relies heavily on Vulgar Humor; which itself can be very divisive depending on the viewer. The show was not renewed for a third season.

Legends of Chamberlain Heights provides examples of:

  • '70s Hair: Jamal's iconic afro, complete with omnipresent afro comb.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Jamal's sister Shamal has a crush on Milk, much to his disgust due to her looking exactly like him.
  • Abusive Parents: The Cummings brothers' Disappeared Dad returns unexpectedly in season 2, claiming to have been imprisoned under false charges (we're shown the actual circumstances in a flashback; he was caught driving a car with three hookers and a bag of cocaine), and claiming he's turned over a new leaf and wants to repair his relationship with his sons. Grover and Malik are accepting, but Montrel openly despises him, and we're shown why; he was an awful father and treated Montrel like crap. It eventually turns out he's not the least bit interested in bonding with his kids, he just wants Grover to move in with him because he has a second family (white wife and mixed race kids), and having a full-black kid living with them will gain them admission into a prestigious school.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: In season 2, Jamal becomes popular when hipsters overrun Chamberlain Heights and he finds out he's a great water polo goalie (because he's so fat he floats automatically and just blocks all the shots). He immediately ditches Grover and Milk for the new cool crowd.
    • This has happened to all three main characters by the beginning of the second season. One of them will become successful or popular and then will eventually abandon or be abandoned by the other two.
  • Animated Shock Comedy: Alongside the drama of high school, there's drug dealing and Vulgar Humor galore.
  • Big Brother Bully: Montrel treats Grover like crap, constantly bums money off him, and openly mocks Grover's attempts at stepping out of his shadow.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: One of the human characters is drawn with an asterisk-shaped anus, something more commonly drawn or rendered on feline characters in works done in The New '10s.
  • Big Eater: Jamal. One episode has him raid Milk's kitchen, and it looks like a bear got loose in there.
  • Big "NO!": Randy, who understandably did this when his dick fell off. He also gave one of these when he was paired up with the prison rapist Ledante as part of the school's "egg baby" project.
  • Black Comedy Rape: It's mostly just implied but it happens. Usually involves Ledante as the perpetrator.
    • Milk gets raped by a bear while lost in the woods during a camping trip/Civil War re-enactment.
  • Body Horror: The side-effects of the homemade "jamalies" drugs, which Jamal made by grinding up the various prescription medications he found in Milk's mom's bathroom. While the rush is great at first, it eventually causes vomiting, explosive diarrhea, and finally your dick falls off.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: In the season 2 premiere, Chamberlain Heights is overrun by these people, who quickly proceed to gentrify the entire neighborhood, driving out most of the black residents and replacing their stores with hipster nonsense. They also change the name of the high school to "Matt Damon High", and cancel basketball in favor of friggin water polo.
  • Butch Lesbian: A group of gang member WNBA fans that the trio run afoul of in East Chamberlain. They're a parody of The Lizzies from The Warriors.
  • Butt-Monkey: Jank-Eye Jarvis, a diabetic student with an enlarged eye who gets bullied even worse than the main characters. Team Captain Randy can also qualify. He frequently gets hit with Laser-Guided Karma, to the point of Once an Episode. If he is being a bully or a jerk, especially as part of the episode's plot, then by the end of the episode, something bad is going to happen to him. A short list:
    • His penis fell off in the pilot, he was partners with Ladante, he injured his neck showboating in the season one finale, got beat up by Milk to the point he was crying in "Chocolate Milk", became the bench warmer for the polo team, got peed on, and was kissed by Ladante in "The G-Word", and was humiliated to the point of tears in "Coach Fishy".
  • But Not Too Black: One episode revolves around Milk getting a skin treatment that makes him black. The clerk recommends he start with a caramel brown (Milk originally wanted the full-on Akon treatment), and Milk, dubbing himself "Chocolate" Milk, becomes enormously popular and receives preferential treatment by both students and adults. Malik sabotages Milk's next treatment, making him as dark as possible, and he's immediately reduced to second-class citizen status.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: "Special" Ted, a disabled student with a stunted arm and leg who uses his handicap as a reason to terrorize the school and bully anyone who pisses him off, even the teachers. He also accuses anyone who tries to back down from fighting him of ableism.
  • Disappeared Dad: The Cummings brothers' father is nowhere to be seen, until season 2 where we find out he's been in prison (and that he has a second family he's been raising since he was released).
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Coach Bundy is the coach variant. He regularly yells at all players, including the good ones, and shows little empathy to his players most of the time. In "Coach Fishy", he is fired after Milk records and posts a video of him acting particularly nasty to Randy. He refuses to apologize and the parents waste no time firing him once the issue comes up. He regains his position at the end of the episode.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Parodied in the pilot where the local cops come to the school to show an incredibly dated anti-drug PSA, then confiscates all the drugs from the students' lockers. All this does is make the kids make their own drugs.
    • Turns out the reason Montrel is such a washout is because he smoked his first joint, and immediately became an addict who used his scholarship certificate to Duke's University to roll joints in.
  • Egg Sitting: In episode 2, the class is given robot babies and paired up into parent groups. It becomes a disaster when all the robot babies come down with measles because Milk refused to vaccinate his.
  • Elvis Lives: Turns out Tupac Shakur is still alive, and masquerading as a female stripper at a strip club called The Mooseknuckle. It's not exactly a good disguise either, he looks just like himself but with breasts and girl hips. Hell, he's still bald and wearing his trademark bandanna!
  • Embarrassing First Name: Milk's real name is Milton.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Type 1 in one episode where the Internet goes down due to too many people sharing a sex tape with Bill Cosby. Society quickly crumbles and riots break out all over the city, leading to the characters desperately trying to stay alive, until the Internet comes back on and order is immediately restored. Thing is, the episode takes place in real time, so society crumbles and is rebuilt in about 20 minutes!
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Due to the show's setup, the trio can never permanently become popular. Any advantage they gain is immediately canceled out by the end of the episode.
  • Fake Boobs: Milk's mother has a pair of comically oversized fake breasts.
  • Fate Worse than Death: When Montrel briefly gets Locked-In syndrome from a new type of pot, Malik misunderstands his choked plea for help as "help to improve himself", and doesn't notice that Montrel can't even move. So Montrel ends up having to sit through Malik reading his entire collection of overwrought black literature to him, with no ability to flee.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Malik is the youngest of the Cummings brothers yet he seems to be the most intelligent and (for the most part) the most mature. Montrel is the oldest brother, he plays video games all day, does drugs, and has shady connections. He regularly bullies middle brother Grover and does not seem to actively contribute to the household. Grover is somewhere in the middle. He leans more towards Montrel since he idolizes his older brother as they both like basketball, but when situations turn bad, he usually turns to Malik first in helping to solve the episode's conflict. Grover also regularly attends school and tries to be responsible.
  • Free-Range Children: Malik spends most of his time selling drugs at a street corner, and doesn't go to school.
  • Gonk: Medina, Jamal's love interest. Despite being on the cheerleading squad, she's enormously fat, ugly and unpleasant.
  • The Ghost: The Cummings brothers live with their mother. Other than Malik mentioning that she brings in the steady income in the pilot, she has yet to be seen or at least properly introduced in the series.
    • She's mentioned again by Grover in season 2, where he remarks that they almost never see her because she's always working.
  • Heel Realization: Montrel has one of these moments when he meets his old teammates, who have all moved on to bigger and better things, and all but spell it out to him that he was a selfish asshole in school and is still one now. It still takes him a while to get his head out of his ass, but he ends up pulling through and helping Grover win the big game.
  • Hidden Depths: The brutish Ledante turns out to be a great video game player and trains Grover in competing at a pro gaming tournament.Ladante treats the Egg Sitting in episode two as Serious Business. It's implied that he has been left back since he tells Randy he has completed the course over five times. The Phys Ed. teacher/coach even tells Randy that he is partnered with Ladante because Ladante is the best student at the egg sitting assignment (this way Ladante will do all the work and Randy will not be too tired to play basketball).
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: Medina and Jamal. Medina is twice as tall as Jamal, and three times as wide.
  • Jaded Washout: Grover's big brother Montrel, once one of the best basketball players in the state. Now he's in his 20's, living at home with no job, smoking pot and playing video games all day.
  • Jerk Jock: Randy, captain of the basketball team, who rules the school with an iron fist.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: "Gold" is stretching it, but Montrel does realize what a selfish asshole he's been in the season 1 finale, and helps motivate Grover to make the match-winning free throw.
    • Becomes more apparent in season 2 when the Cummings absent father returns, and Montrel protects Grover from being exploited by him. He also saves Grover from getting beat up by Randy at a house party.
  • Limited Animation: Well, DUH.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Malik, who hates white people, referring to them as "white devils". He only sells drugs to white people and refers to it as getting back at the white man. He also idolizes Spike Lee and constantly lectures his brothers for acting stereotypical.
  • Mooning: Randy does this to the main three at one point, except he shows his butthole.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • Jamal drops the n-word like it's about to be outlawed (well, he says "my niggs" but still). Milk tries to, but gets a Dope Slap from Grover every time he does.
    • In "Hurricane Jermaine", Milk saves Jamal and Grover with his hidden swimming skills and is rewarded by being allowed to say "nigs" for the rest of the roadtrip. He then says it skyward and cries from it being so rewarding in a moment that's actually pretty heartwarming despite the context.
  • Outlandish Device Setting: The episode "Chocolate Milk" has Milk utilizing a local salon's special tanning bed to make his complexion darker, with the settings for said bed being labelled from lightest to darkest as "Steph Curry", "David Beckham", "Pharrell", "Chris Brown", "Kid Cudi", "Django", "Michael Jordan", "Wesley Snipes", and "Akon". The "Chris Brown" setting is stated to be the salon's bestseller while "Akon" requires signed paperwork and approval from the manager.
  • Own Goal: Grover accomplishes this in the Season 1 finale episode "25th Hour." After he makes the winning throw to send the Black Holes to the playoffs and receives fame from it, they lose the next game by 118 points (12 - 130) and Grover himself only manages to score two points, in the wrong basket.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Milk tries to invoke this, but unfortunately, most of the girls just think he's creepy.
  • Prison Rape:
    • The last episode of season 2 deals with the gang ending up in prison, and Jamal's subplot revolves around pretending to be gay to avoid this. Apparently if you're actually interested in gay sex, the other prisoners leave you alone.
    • Montrels advice to Grover when he's transferred from juvie to adult prison is that "if you get your backside dug out and don't tell anybody, then it didn't happen."
  • Scary Black Man: While most of the cast is black, only one fits this trope; the hulking ex-convict Ledante.
  • Sissy Villain: One episode deals with Cindy's gay friend who turns out to be one of these. Not only does he intend to cheat his way to becoming Homecoming Queen and throw Cindy under the bus to win, he's also a huge jerk and a blackmailing bully.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The characters egos about their basketball skills don't exactly match their actual abilities. Grover is the only one of them who isn't completely terrible, and even he isn't that good.
  • Shout-Out: Milk refers to his step-father as "Uncle Joey" because he looks like Dave Coulier's character on Full House. His step-father isn't the least bit amused by it.
  • The Straight Man: Grover is this to his friends.
  • Stylistic Suck: Everyone moves like they've got several frames missing.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Sex, drugs, crime, bullying, and general thuggish and gangster-like behavior. Even the main characters are prone to this.
  • To Be a Master: The main trio's life dream is the ill-defined goal of being "Legends".
  • The Unintelligible: Mumble Mouth, a member of Randy's group.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Grover simply wants his older brother Montrel's respect and love. Montrel for the most part doesn't care or subverts it if it appears he does care.
  • What Does He See in Her?: While he's embarrassed about being seen with her in public, Jamal cant get himself to call it off with Medina despite her unattractive appearance and her treating him like crap. He even states that "there's something about that girl..."
  • Whole-Plot Reference: One episode turns into a parody of The Warriors, with the characters having to escape East Chamberlain while avoiding the street gangs.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Milk avoids the consequences of his fight with "Special" Ted this way, by pissing off Ted's even meaner and violent sister. He still gets his ass handed to him, but can claim that he didn't want to hit a girl, rather than that he's a wuss and a bad fighter.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Grover makes the match-winning free throw in the season 1 finale, giving the team the win and gets them to the playoffs AND has a date with Cindy at last, Jamal has made a ton of money selling Grover merchandise, and Milk has hooked up with two hot girls, looks like they're finally gonna get to be "legends"... right until the next game, when the team loses by 110 points, Grover scores all of one goal (in the wrong basket), Milk gets ditched by the girls, and Jamal is robbed outside a pie store. End of season 1.
    • In the same epilogue, we see that Montrel decided to get his life together, and filled out several job applications... then, 10 minutes later, he used them to smoke pot, and fell asleep on the couch.
    • In Season 2, the guys hook up with three girls when a hurricane flood traps them in a hotel in New Orleans during a road trip, and it looks like they're finally going to score... only for them to realize they don't have any protection (which the girls refuse to have sex without). So they almost kill themselves venturing outside for condoms, only for Randy and his friends having stolen their hookups by the time they get back. To add insult to injury, the girls had no problem banging them without condoms because of their jock status. The only upside is that Randy and company to end up with a nasty genital rash as a result.


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Alternative Title(s): The Legends Of Chamberlain Heights


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