South Park Season 19 Episode 7
It’s by no means a knock on Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s storytelling ability to say that plenty of key episodes of South Park that center on controversial hot-button topics are seen through one lens. Using hyperbolic and juvenile means to make a point (RE: nearly every episode that focuses on religion) is their calling card, often determining whether an episode floats along or sinks to the bottom of Stark’s Pond.
Every character has given in to the kind of ill-contrived group-think that’s brought us so much joy watching South Park. Stan or Kyle stepping up at the end of an episode to tell us what they’ve “learned” often comes too late for a voice of reason, and does little to negate the madness done by Cartman or an assortment of others. Matt and Trey have made so many episodes about their “rabble rabble rabble” citizens that faux-outrage was destined to come back into style. The beauty of this season is that just as South Park cloaked itself as a politically correct town, the closed-minded mob mentality of its people seems as relevant as ever to the real world.
South Park’s seven episodes of season 19 are playing out as the perfect petri dish for our societal discussions (or lack thereof). In the two weeks since “Tweek x Craig” aired, we’ve nearly reached peak outage. Police brutality continues to be a major issue in this country as anti-police sentiment rises. Institutions of higher education, long thought to foster conversation and progressive ideology, are shockingly closed-minded as racial issues divide campuses and students “catastrophize” under the pretense of activism. And if you didn’t get the call from above that the world is ending, a bunch of assholes on Facebook are pissed off that Starbucks is going to war with Christmas, even though the usual noise-making Christians have come out and said they couldn’t care less.
Part of this unprecedented revitalization of the 18-year old show is that South Park is willing to play both sides more than ever. The incompetent Officer Barbrady lodging a bullet in an unarmed hispanic child could have led us to 20 minutes of anti-police insanity. “The townspeople say the protest is meant to being a dialogue about the relationship between law enforcement and the citizens they are supposed to protect,” the news anchor says, setting up a “F*ck the Police” montage.
The townspeople work to rid themselves of the police, like the force once freed South Park of its rich, black population. It’s standard fare, until the episode does good to defy our expectations. Rather than close off this debate and let Randy and the Whole Foods not take kindly to those to don’t know what “Farm 2 Table” is, the police take the back the narrative in the best way possible: by being passive aggressive. The third act becomes a lovely ode to the hypocrisy that has invaded the town since the reign of PC Principal started. Citizens are left to live in a stinky town overrun by homeless, with kids that are swearing loyalty to ISIS. You can see how this is problematic to a newly progressive town.
There’s no hanging of reality as the episode concludes, which seems to be the go-to response in the real world these days. In the end, the good name of the Park County Police is restored and a rogue cop is put in his place — which in PC South Park 2015, feels like the most outlandish joke of all.
But seriously, you guys…
That’s two episodes in a row where Cartman’s storyline is the worst part about the episode. This could go down as the least interesting Cartman season of all time. Oddly, it’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons in a decade if it can stick the landing.
Quote of the episode: “We’ve only had a Whole Foods for a month and already we don’t need cops.”