Did we expect South Park to do anything less than come out swinging?
They’ve had a year to stew, a year in which professional sports scandals, useless Kickstarter projects and useless violence have stayed in the news cycle for far too long. Now 18 seasons deep, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have learned that it’s better to get the pressing issues out in the open early on and save their pre-planned storylines for a rainy day.
In tonight’s premiere episode, “Go Fund Yourself,” South Park came up with an all-out assault (that word seems appropriate…) on the NFL, using the crowd-funding craze to justify the boys’ use of the Washington Redskins nickname for their startup company. It wasn’t a particularly fluid entry, but they made sure to get their cheap shots in and that was enough to carry a very simple, yet laugh-out-loud funny episode, especially for sports fans familiar with the NFL’s ongoing problems.
Even if you haven’t followed the Redskins name debate, the loss of their trademark rights, and the NFL’s alarming domestic violence scandals, Cartman makes it easy for you. The NFL and Catholic Church, it’s all the same thing. Lies, hypocrisy, cover-ups.
Without getting too deep into the controversies, from a comedy perspective I thought South Park nailed the second act. I was already seeing GIFs and memes and Vines of the robot Roger Goodell and the cross-eyed Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Using the actual Goodell press conference audio and getting the Redskins to violently destroy Kickstarter, including the elevator camera footage, was brilliant.
While snippets of the episode—Cartman’s Ted Talks speech included—should be praised, I think they ran into the same problem they had last year in returning from a long hiatus. There are so many good pop culture topics they want to jam into the first episode that it ends up watering down the plot. The use of ISIS, which could be a topic for a standalone episode, was one of them. I loved that Kickstarter was the focus, and it seems as though as Matt and Trey clearly drew inspiration from their friend Mike Judge’s excellent new comedy, Silicon Valley. But I’d have liked to see more come out of the crowd funding storyline, or even a deeper exploration of the NFL and its scumbag owners, but instead we just ended up with some really good jokes that were strung together by a flimsy plot that lacked a good knockout punch at the end.
If you saw the teaser for the episode earlier in the week, Washington Quarterback Robert Griffin III was originally in the episode. The star QB was injured and replaced in real life by backup Kirk Cousins on the field, and on South Park as well.
Public outrage is something they’ve always handed so well. From “rabble, rabble, rabble” to war protests and freeing “Hat,” Matt and Trey are great at pointing out mass public hypocrisy and it works well when they use the sudden outrage at the Redskins name by the politically correct, including ISIS.
We need a counter for how many shots they’ve taken at the Catholic Church over the years.
I’m all for short, hip company names, but Furry Balls Plopped Menacingly on the Table INC. is a winner.
It’s nice to see the boys co-existing for a change. When we last saw them together, they were taking frequent trips through the Garden of Betrayal.
The episode gets a generous three and a half stars from me, mostly because they couldn’t stick the landing in the last third of the episode.
Prediction for Next Week:
We made our season predictions the other day and I won’t stray too far from it for now. South Park comes back with a full-on True Detective parody.