This South Park review contains spoilers.
South Park Season 22 Episode 4
The most cutting satire in this episode of South Park takes place in the opening seconds. Just as it did in the previous episode, “Tegridy Farms” opens by recalling the season premiere with an establishing shot of the school as the sound of gunshots rings out. I really appreciate this continuing commentary on the normalcy of gun violence in America. It’s blunt in a way few other programs are willing to be and it’s brilliant how, much like the real issue, it was focused on briefly but is now pushed aside so that other topics can be addressed.
In terms of importance, there is a yawning gulf between school shootings and the main topic of “Tegridy Farms,” which is vaping. Specifically, the stance South Park seems to have taken here is that vaping looks stupid and is for pussies. I mean, sure, it’s not like I disagree. Vaping does look stupid and every time I see people doing it, they cup the vape pen in their hand in this weird way that makes it look like they’re doing it secretly, like they think they’re getting away with something, and I don’t get why. But, regardless, I’m not losing much sleep over vaping, so it’s hard to be deeply invested in an episode-long takedown of it.
Not that I expect Trey and Matt are genuinely furious about vaping either. This is one of those goofy South Parks that doesn’t have anything particularly biting to say; it’s just meant to be a bit of fun railing against an obnoxious trend. However, because there’s not much conviction behind the point being made (the point, again, being that, uh, vaping’s dumb), all the jokes and plot turns feel like softballs too.
It’s just tough to find much to care about in “Tegridy Farms.” Cartman and Butters’ plot is meandering. They’re in debt to a guy they bought vape paraphernalia from so they’re selling it to kindergarteners, but they stop when Kyle finds out, but then the problem escalates when Cartman tries to frame the guy they bought the stuff from, and then they have to rob the vape store? It’s a thin, dumb conflict which doesn’t take itself seriously, epitomized by how Randy shows up at the end and brushes it all aside.
It’d be fine as a stupid joke conflict if it were funny, but, well, it’s not. Cartman bringing up Ronan Farrow the first time made me chuckle, but it got old after that. And Vaping Man is too basic of a Kool-Aid Man parody to earn any laughs. The only thing I can really say for this plot is that South Park episodes increasingly show no interest in centering events around the kids who used to be the series’ protagonists, so it was a small treat just to see them get some more screen time.
The other plot inevitably falls back on Randy, because, like Homer Simpson before him, he’s an impulsive idiot who can be made to do anything to drive the story wherever the writers want it to go. In this case, he up and decides to move the whole family out to a farm (Tomacco, anyone?) to start growing weed. There’s not much of a conflict in this plotline either: Randy immediately takes to weed farming and then gets mad when other farmers start selling out to a vaping corporation. I guess it’s nice that the two plots of this episode converge at the end, which is always a satisfying sitcom trope. However, considering both storylines are so slight, it’s not that satisfying.
Randy’s plot isn’t funny either. Unless you’re very tickled by him screaming about “pussy sticks” or automatically charmed by the appearance of Towelie, despite how limp and unremarkable his cameo is, there’s not a lot to laugh at. The first time donning the hemp hat was accompanied by the familiar sound of the Spin Doctors’ nineties shit-rock hit, “Two Princes,” I chuckled. But, like so many lesser South Park jokes, the repetition of this didn’t make it any funnier. I was also never clear on why it’s meant to be funny that Randy abbreviates “integrity” to “tegridy” and no one but him gets what he’s saying. How does this qualify as a joke?
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the plot of “Tegridy Farms.” It makes enough sense and sticks to one topic. It’s just so inconsequential and aimless that it’s difficult to care about any of it. The greater sin is how, like the rest of Season 22 so far, it’s almost uniformly unfunny. Early in the episode, Randy lists off the plots of the previous episodes of the season and then comments, “Somehow, I’m not laughing anymore.” It’s nice that you’re aware of it, Randy. That doesn’t excuse it, though.
Joe Matar watches a lot of cartoons and a lot of sitcoms. He’s obsessed with story structure so that’s what all his reviews are about. Joe also writes about video games on occasion. He has an MA in English if you can believe it. Read more of his work here. Follow Joe on Twitter for more fun @joespirational!