South Park Season 21 Episode 4 Review: Franchise Prequel

South Park stayed #onbrand this week for its best episode of the young season.

Leave it to Coon and Friends to save South Park season 21. “Franchise Prequel” had zero business being as good as it was, and it was easily my favorite episode of the season thus far. Though Coon and Friends are fan favorites, you always run the risk of these alter-egos overstaying their welcome. What worked well in season 13’s standalone episode, “The Coon,” soured by the end of the three-episode Coon vs. Mysterion arc in season 14.

With Coon and Friends set to return in South Park’s new video game release this month, The Fractured But Whole, the timing was right to open up superhero tryouts. Whether it was part of the superhero “franchise” joke or not, Matt and Trey chose to stay #onbrand, including commercial breaks promoting the video game. It tied in nicely with Cartman’s plan to make a lot of money bringing his superhero friends to the big screen, small screen, direct-to-video, and to Netflix.

He may not have profited from Coonicon, but The Coon is dead set on taking over Hollywood. His foil this time is Mark Zuckerberg and Butters’ Professor Chaos. The biggest surprise in the episode is the mileage Matt and Trey are able to get out of making Facebook jokes, which are usually contrived and unfunny (See: “You Have 0 Friends”). Instead of mining Facebook for its popularity, they succeed in skewering the distrust of a platform that can cause chaos for about $17. Butters’ Professor Chaos can not only destroy his enemies, but he can create a thriving business in an abandoned Circuit City with the protection of Zuckerberg.  

Zuckerberg’s dubbed over robot voice is just the latest in a long time of wonderful celebrity parody in the show, nearly reaching ManBearPig Al Gore level. Tone deaf Zuck continues South Park season 21’s narrative thread of examining how technology is amplifying our cultural divide, whether it’s Amazon’s Alexa taking jobs away, Twitter as a conduit for nuclear war, ancestor/DNA websites that allow you to trade your white guilt for a taste of victimhood, or Zuckerberg’s unwelcome but invited presence into our lives. He might have created the platform and is actively avoiding fixing its massive fake news problem, but we continue to make it a part of our daily lives for better or worse.

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Assessing The Franchise Plan

It’s important we do a critical analysis of Cartman’s franchise plan.

Cartman has the right idea that Netflix is the easiest path to success. From there, he’s pretty closely following the Marvel/DC Cinematic Universe formula. Coon and SuperCraig get top billing on a film alla Batman v Superman, and then the prequels just start rolling in. Major props to the prequel title: “Mosquito: Tomorrow is Yesterday.”

Phase three is where we really start to see the genius of the future Kevin Feige. Earth explodes/Earth is OK again in back-to-back films is a worthy sendup of the MCU.

To Cartman’s credit, he keeps his superhero movie universal just as inclusive as Hollywood does: The Black superhero (Token’s TupperWare) doesn’t get introduced until phase two, “like an ace in the hole,” and in the final film of phrase three, the last Coon and Friends Movie, they at last intro a chick!

One Liners of the Week

“Netflix, you’re greenlit!”

“Who would deliberately use Facebook in such a horribly reckless way?”

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“We’re Coon and Friends, not Harvey Weinstein.”


4 out of 5