On Wednesday night, the hallmark of Comedy Central’s programming, South Park, returned to the airwaves for its twenty-first season. After an abysmal twentieth season about Danish troll wars, or something, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone resurrected the comedic formula that propelled South Park from poorly animated cardboard cutouts to one of the most popular (and vulgar) shows on television.
As viewers know from the show’s best seasons—5 through 15 plus 18 & the first half of 19—South Park plucks anywhere from two to four topical issues, events, or people and seamlessly weaves them into one succinct, hilarious piece of satire. On Wednesday night, Parker and Stone took aim at confederate flags, HGTV home renovation shows, and Amazon’s Alexa. You’re obviously wondering how it’s possible to relate these three cultural artifacts to one another. In reality, you really have to watch it to understand.
One major element of the season premiere was its nostalgia. Right off the bat, in quintessential fashion, the lost boys of Park County, Colorado are cracking jokes about feces and genitalia. This might not be your cup of tea, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone in today’s society who doesn’t laugh at the occasional fart joke.
In an ode to Season 8, Episode 7’s “Goobacks,” the now famous “THEY TOOK’er JOBS!” chant returned in full force, when South Park’s resident blue-collar workers are upset about losing menial labor jobs to modern technology. Some people might be up in arms about the stereotyping of white people with these cartoon rednecks, but the show stereotypes literally everyone. That’s why it’s great humor.
Lastly, the season opener used a technique that I’ve mostly been a fan of in years past: it focused on only two main characters. In this case it was fan favorites Eric Cartman and Randy Marsh, the latter of whom should be engraved on the Mount Rushmore of TV dads.
Like in Season 10’s two-part episode “Go God God,” Cartman is obsessed with the newest technological fad—Amazon’s Alexa rather than the Nintendo Wii. Randy did what he does best—he immersed himself in a ridiculous new profession or hobby that drives his wife crazy. The episode is fittingly named after this hobby, “White People Renovating Houses,” a subtle jab HGTV’s countless shows about flipping houses. Overall, Parker and Stone wisely used these nostalgic plot devices from South Park‘s glory days and filled them with 2017’s abundance of topical stories.
I could go on about the plot and political commentary of Wednesday night’s episode, but again, you really just have to watch it. You’ll also better understand how they took three seemingly distinct issues and weaved them into one story.
If you’re conservative, you may get a little offended at how they depict white, working class people (namely Trump supporters) as possessing “hateful stupidity,” but if you do, you’re probably a snowflake. It’s a TV show, not a former candidate for President. Loosen up.
Rather than summarize, I will simply list a few of my favorite moments from the episode.
- Randy Marsh’s opening soliloquy: “There’s been a lot of hurting in our country lately. You can either be part of the solution or part of the problem. A few months ago, my wife Sharon and I decided to be part of the solution…BY REMODELING AND FLIPPING HOUSES FOR PEOPLE ALL OVER OUR TOWN!”
- One of the town’s local rednecks waving a Confederate flag at a deactivated Alexa device and yelling, “HOW YOU LIKE THAT, BTICH?!”
- Jim Bob’s acoustic, Hank Williams Sr.-esque cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.”
- And lastly, one line that you won’t understand unless you watch the episode, but might make you chuckle nonetheless:
“Hey Darryl, coal mining and truck driving are not exactly jobs of the future, so add Carrara subway tile to my fucking shopping list!”
If the last nine episodes maintain this level of comedic ingenuity, Season 21 will easily become one of, if not the best season of South Park in the show’s lengthy run.
Cover image taken by screenshot via SouthParkStudios.com.