9. Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo
Things get festive in South Park, and it’s another episode laden with social satire. This time Parker and Stone have their eye on political correctness. Normally, I think people roll out that cliché of ‘political correctness gone mad’ far too much, but here it’s dealt with in such a wry, ironic way that you can’t help but see the ridiculousness of it all.
The episode opens with the children of South Park rehearsing for the annual Christmas play, with Mary and Joseph and carol singers galore. It’s not long before Kyle’s mother intrudes, appalled that her Jewish child should be made to perform in a play about Christmas playing the role of Joseph. Thanks to some acid put-downs from Mr Garrison, Kyle’s mother storms out, determined that she will have the play changed to something more sympathetic to the Jewish community (“Oh great, Kyle’s mom is here to ruin Christmas,” Cartman quips, before launching into a song about how Kyle’s mom is a bitch).
The main story thread focuses on Kyle and his obsession with Mr Hankey, a supposedly talking piece of excrement who loves all things festive. Unconvinced, his friends have him committed to a psychiatric hospital, where he slowly believes he’s going mad (“I’m a clinically depressed fecalpheliac on Prozac”). When Chef reveals that there really is a Mr Hankey and all you have to do is believe in him to see him, the children rush to free their friend.
Soon word spreads around the town that the school is rehearsing a play that could possibly offend minority groups with its depiction of Christmas trees at Christmas, and a town meeting is held to decide what is allowed and what is liable to offend. As soon as the debate is opened, it seems people get offended by more and more bizarre things, including tinsel, turkey and Santa Claus.
The culmination of all this madness sees the kids forced to perform an abstract dance recital to the minimalist music of composer Philip Glass (with the lyrics “Happy happy happy … everybody happy”).
As the play has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas or any holiday at all, people begin to riot, outraged. That is, until Mr Hankey shows up to calm tempers and show everybody the true meaning of Christmas.
While maybe not as enjoyable as future episodes to feature Mr Hankey, this is still a great festive special with many laugh out loud moments. You could really take your pick, but Kyle shouting at a turd in a box to “move, damn you!” while his friends look on in confused terror is definitely one of the best.
Read our review of episode 8 here.