This South Park review contains spoilers… and donkey balls.
South Park Season 21 Episode 1
In interviews leading up to South Park’s season 21 premiere, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker reiterated over and over that they wanted to get back to the boys being boys. What springs to mind are more innocent stories like when the boys banded together to defeat a Warcraft troll, a simple concept that barely had a B plot. The glory days of South Park! Back to the basics.
For a few minutes it looked like we were about to get that. The boys huddled around an Amazon Echo asking it to add “smelly tampon boogers” to a shopping list and giggling to no end is some damn fine South Park. It was a mirage because clearly Matt and Trey were itching to make a statement on one of America’s many divisive topics right now. This time around they did it without mentioning the president, but examined the people he’s dividing: white and blue collar America.
When the episode teaser dropped Monday with the “took yer jobs” townies marching and chanting “You will not replace us,” I assumed South Park would punch hard at the White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis. Instead, they came out punching with kid’s gloves for the season 21 premiere.
“White People Renovating Houses” first picks up on a narrative thread from last season with Cartman in a love triangle between his newfound sweetheart Alexa (the Amazon Echo voice for you non-tech people) and his girlfriend, Heidi Turner. Exploring the romantic side of Cartman worked well at times last season, and so does the role reversal here as his waning interest in Heidi results in a boyfriend slowly dissociating as he looks for a more subordinate muse. Cartman and Alexa could be a dangerous duo in the weeks to come, but at this point I’m just worried for Heidi’s sake.
The continuity from the Cartman/Heidi relationship in season 20 manifested in the premiere, which was interesting since Matt and Trey talked at length about the exhausting creative process of serialization. The nice thing about this show is they can pick and choose which narratives to carry over into subsequent episodes while having the freedom to keep the show topical. It worked really well in season 19, which was continuity heavy but not fully serialized, and I’d like to see South Park get back to those glorious PC Principal days.
Matt and Trey said they wanted to protect this season against Trump fatigue, which was unavoidable last season when one of their essential characters, Mr. Garrison, took on the Trump role. After they so clearly vented their frustration with comedy in the Age of Trump, the season 21 premiere was a disappointing execution of depicting the divide and intentions of white collar and blue collar Americans, with the “Took Yer Jobs” guys scabbing for Amazon Echoes and Randy hosting one of those lame house renovation shows.
When Randy’s says there’s “hurt from both sides,” it’s a good sendup of white people ignoring the real injustices in our society and only worrying about how it affects them and makes them feel. It wasn’t their strongest social commentary in recent years, and it only made that more obvious when it all failed to coalesce as they jumbled the Alexa/House Renovators/blue collar workers plots. From a show that had more biting satirical commentary on topics like Safe Spaces and PC culture, George Zimmerman, and Black Lives Matter, I expected a much stronger response to the events of Charlotteville from a South Park season premiere.
As usual in South Park, they shouldn’t let the adults try to do the boys work. Let’s get back to that.
Best South Park Live Tweets of the Week— South Park (@SouthPark) September 14, 2017
That is exactly how I feel when I wake up on the first Wednesday of South Park season.— %u272F Jeremiah %u272F (@justdojeremiah) September 14, 2017
Cooling off your soup with the confederate flag will do that… and it might just be a new meme…