Woah, South Park is still relevant?! I honestly share this same sentiment with Family Guy and Simpsons, comedies that have lost their charm and have now degraded into nothing but blatant, mindless, corporate cash grabs. I reserve this sort of judgement for shows that just refuse to die, and that includes long running battle Shonen (I’m looking at you One Piece, Naruto, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure…). But with South Park, it’s a different matter entirely. For nearly 20 years now, South Park is still going strong. And no, I’m not talking solely about the viewer base, I’m also touching on how the series manages to one up itself every season in terms of how many global trends it can poke fun at, how many new jokes it can crack, and how many times it can push the envelope when it comes to airing certain content on tv. And I can understand why some people may loathe it; it is one of the raunchiest and most offensive cartoons out there after all. Its practically built itself a reputation around the fact.
So, the last season managed to satirize millennialism, Trump supporters, people who still believe in water bears… Now what’s it going to tackle this time around? School shootings? Oh… Oh no… But then again, its South Park for crying out loud! Nothing is too politically correct or belligerent for this series.
The episode basically establishes its plot right from the get-go, no questions asked. School shootings have started occurring at a daily occurrence in the small little town of South Park, so much to the point that people gave up caring about it, except for Stan’s mother. Because of her outbursts surrounding the idea that none of her friends or family members have batted an eyelash at the sheer brutality that goes on in the schools, Randy grows concerned for her mental health, concluding that she’s approached the menopause stage and that is the supposed reason she’s been acting this way. Meanwhile, Cartman suspects that Token is deliberately refusing to let him copy off his math test, claiming that its because he hasn’t watched Black Panther yet. Cause to him, he just flat out doesn’t believe that a single African American kid in a tiny town in Colorado hasn’t watched the film. He tries to find as much evidence as he can to prove his point, even hilariously dressing up as Jessica Jones in the process.
What I really like about this episode, heck any South Park episode for that matter, is how it manages to effortlessly satirize multiple facets of our current political climate, interlacing them into an episodic, self-contained story that wraps itself up by the end. And it’s being done in a manner that feels natural and well planned, rather than forced like with Family Guy. I admire that it touches on how so many school shootings have occurred in the past that people are desensitized to it at this point. And it has a point to bring with regards to this; if shocking acts start occurring on multiple occasions, it becomes less shocking. It’s a reason why people seem to care less about murders these days than they did in the past. It’s exactly why we’re more uncomfortable seeing kids die in movies as opposed to adults. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing adults getting torn to shreds, mowed down by machine gun fire, eaten alive and so forth, but it’s a rare case for that to happen to children. Hence why the first death in the IT remake legitimately left audiences stunned in their seats. The messages have already been rubbed in to the point where they’ve lost their impact. You can argue that Stan, Randy and the rest of the cast are being unsympathetic here, but it doesn’t disprove the point the episode is trying to make. Hell, we even witness the school’s security getting seriously beefed up, and all the characters seem to care about is either Stan’s mother and her attitude change, and the math test.
This episode basically sees a return to form for South Park. Whereas the previous two seasons had episodes that were more dramatic in nature and all part of an overarching narrative, this one is back to showcasing episodic comedic shenanigans like it used to in the past. Seeing Cartman constantly irritate Token about the math test brought about many hysterical hijinks into the mix. And, how can we forget Randy singing a Broadway style musical amid a school shooting! Now that’s refuge in audacity right there. Also, Butters being appointed as the hall monitor, and given an assault rife to carry! Yeah, lets hand over a weapon to one of the most psychotic and mentally unhinged kids in the school. I burst into fits of laughter as he discharges his weapon in slow motion while Cartman and Token try to make it to class in time. Now, I wonder if most of the deaths were Butter’s fault.
So, from now on, I’m going to be doing episodic reviews of season 22, because there’s just so much to dig into with South Park. Like I said, its been airing for many years and it still manages to be relevant even to this day. Its one of the few shows that has improved constantly after its exodus. I’m generally interested to see what Trey Parker and Matt Stone have in store for us this time around, especially considering how strong of an opening they’ve pulled off this season. Will it continue the overarching story structure that the previous two seasons brought about, or will it return to its episodic roots? Guess the only thing we’ll have to do is find out.
Also, I agree with Cartman that Black Panther sucks.
PS: Yes, South Park is an anime.