This South Park review contains spoilers.
South Park Season 22 Episode 3
Twenty one years ago, Mr. Hankey made his South Park debut in a holiday episode that parodied the outcry against the “attack on Christmas.” To Kyle’s mom, the school’s Christmas nativity play was yet another instance of the unholy marriage between public education and religion, and she wouldn’t let her Jewish son participate. The school listened and went full PC, stripping Christmas out of the Christmas play. Kyle then found the holiday spirit elsewhere. He befriended a little turd named Mr. Hankey and the rest is history. The Christmas-loving crap became a beloved recurring character, even if he was a little bit shitty sometimes.
Kyle, in that season one episode, argued that he could sing a secular song about Mr. Hankey instead of participating in the nativity play, but it was shot down. Instead, Mr. Hankey reminded everyone what Christmas was really about, and the play was eventually restored with all its Christmas trappings. He’s since popped up to help the boys in a few episodes throughout the years, and even put out a hit holiday record. Hankey, as we learn in “The Problem with a Poo,” carries on the tradition by directing the play. Only the little turd that became a symbol of the most wonderful time of year has revealed himself to be nothing more than a dumpy little racist.
Last night, Mr. Hankey took the Poo-Choo-Express out of South Park all the way to Springfield. He thought he was taking a “Poober” but had to settle for a Lyft. There was no grand Helicrapter exit. The episode is about a fall from grace and an exile. Mr. Hankey’s behavior has become toxic. He takes too much ambien and goes on Roseanne Barr-esque tweetstorms. When called out for his shitty actions, Mr. Hankey channels Brett Kavanaugh and erupts instead of responding with dignity and respect. You can talk about suing ambien, but any good lawyer knows if you defend poop, you “get stained.”
Kyle, the show’s moral center, stands behind the Poo initially despite everyone distancing themselves. “I want to stand by my friend,” Kyle says, to which Cartman replies, “Let’s see how that goes for you in 2018.” It doesn’t go well. And when South Park had its moment to tell Hankey (and any of the other shitty figures of 2018) off, it just walked away. Kyle spared the moral high ground speech because people like Hankey fight until their dying breath to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. If the beginning of the episode asked if we’re being too judgemental, too PC, Kyle turning his back on Hankey validated the position of people offended by the poo’s actions. The PC Babies may have been crying throughout the episode, but they were right to face the hard truth about Mr. Hankey.
In the end, Mr. Hankey being sent to Springfield is A+ trolling that ties in with the title of the episode, a reference to comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu and the feckless response from the creators of the controversial character. In some ways, South Park still has its own issues to tackle. It constantly teeters between PC and anti-PC storylines and often fails to consistently deliver any kind of concrete message. While I liked Stan walking away in this episode, I wouldn’t blame anyone for calling it a cop out. Yet South Park has also acknowledged its own problematic elements in-depth over the last three plus seasons, thus why I tend to think they earned that Simpsons joke, and they deserve some credit for leaving an old friend in the crappier place.
Shooting The Shit
School shootings are now a constant in South Park. We hear gunshots ring out as the episode opens followed by the mayor saying, “It’s time we face hard truths.” She then goes on to talk about cutting the Christmas play budget.
“If you defend poop, you get stained.”
“The Hankey Hearings”
“That was a bad attempt at a Christmas joke.”
I laughed way too loud at this: “We’ll call you a Poober” “Oh, you mean Lyft.”
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