South Park “Stunning and Brave” Review
Season 19, Episode 1
Things are going to be different around here. Let’s face it, is IS long overdue.
Well, or so the show says. Welcome to Season 19 everybody. Let’s head on down to “South Park.”
As much as everything tends to stay the same in the town of South Park, this season started with Principal Victoria being fired and a new person being brought in to make South Park a more progressive place that fits in with today’s times. A better place. A less offensive place. A more welcoming place where everybody can just get along.
Enter PC Principal. Part PC activist, part fraternity bro, he started right off examining the show’s own history: Chef, Kim and his Mongolian Wall (wait, he ISN’T Chinese?), and even Cartman’s transgender past from last year’s “Cissy,” which I’m glad Matt and Trey addressed, given this is somewhat an extension of that same topic. It’s also a very apt subject for the show to tackle. It’s something that I’ve been wondering about a lot lately, and given how increasingly PC today’s world is, “South Park” came right out and reminded everybody where its place, even in such a world, is. If “South Park” started today, would it have succeeded?
The developed PC bros (though it took a second to figure out exactly where the show was going with the principal character) end up forming a PC fraternity, but the actual characterization of them was one of the weaker parts of the show’s argument. It can’t exactly lambaste the group – they are fighting for the right things – so instead the show tried to go after their personalities. It could have worked…but I really don’t feel that the whole PC and righteous attitude mashes well with bro and frat culture.
PC Principal started handing out detentions left and right, even putting Cartman in line. It was a little unclear why Cartman was so submissive from the get-go. Usually any time he comes up against an opposing force his first reaction is to immediately go on the offensive. Perhaps the dentition time was getting to him…or the plot just needed him to not react right away.
A little speech from the guys sets him loose (ironic, given it’s usually Kyle and Stan trying to stop Cartman), but it seemed that Cartman may have met his match. After trying to frame PC Principal for raping Butters, he gets his ass handed to him, and ended up in the hospital. It’s a pretty fast change for Cartman, who then decides to give up his old ways. No more fat shaming. No more calling Kyle a dirty Jew. He swears he won’t ever go back to the way that he was.
With Cartman playing things straight, it’s Kyle instead who is the one who comes under fire for being a bigot. It’s an unusual role for Kyle, but his point that Caitlyn Jenner isn’t HIS hero is a fair one. Reading between the lines you can see all of the other characters in agreement, but instead are speaking out of fear and are being bullied into saying the opposite in public. The show has made similar points before.
Once Kyle came under attack, Cartman then decided to go to war with the PC people…again, but just to save his friend Kyle. It was set up by the earlier hospital scene, but kind of a stretch all other things considered.
After an attack of complete offensive absurdity, (and a good laugh with the show bringing Jared back), Kyle came around, finally admitting the courage that it took Caitlyn Jenner to come forward. It was only after he saw Cartman taking things to such an extreme though, that Kyle was able to finally see that enough was enough,
This then led to the closing scene, which pulled things together:
“I would have never thought to use offensive imagery and outrageous stereotypes to provoke someone to open their eyes.”
“Sometimes joking about unPC things can be important because it starts a dialogue.”
That about sums what the show was going for, and really, a lot of what “South Park” has always been about.
For a statement of purpose, it does give the show a reason to exist still, and it also manages to – actually pretty respectfully – silence critics of the show’s no-holds-bar approach to humor. “South Park” never (at least rarely) does anything hatefully, and really, is on the same side as many people who might claim otherwise, it just goes about it differently, and it took the high road on this one, considerably speaking. It’s also worth poignant out the diversity that South Park does have: How many other shows – even today – have transgendered, handicap, or sexually fluid characters? South Park has always been about a high-level acceptance, a perfect utopia where everybody is equal and everything is fair game to make fun of.
The message wasn’t quite as poignant, clear, or laugh-out-loud funny as the show has made before (think of the free speech and freedom to joke tirades in Cartoon Wars), but perhaps 19 seasons in it’s good for the show to refresh its mandate without completely retreading it, and it probably fit here for the show to display a little maturity and restraint. Things got a little messy in the middle, but ultimately it ended up landing on its feet. And that’s more than could be said about most of season 18. So all in all, not a bad start to this season. Not bad at all.
And it will be interesting to see if – going forward – things have really changed in South Park or not.
Note & Quotes
-Hot Cosby is a pretty good opening line. Calls to mind the shock from the Jeopardy episode opener forever ago.
–“Well, we have Token, he’s black.”
-“She’s a hero. She’s stunning and brave.”
-“I’m PC UMass”
–You think Venezuelans aren’t Americans, brah?
-“By all means, keep your dick out.”
-spokesman, instead of spokesperson
-“They serve refreshments, yes”
-I’m pretty over the show doing Tom Brady and football jokes. Personal bias!
-“Dad, did you draw dicks on my friend’s face?”
-“Send in the pregnant Mexican women! Fire the taco launchers!”
-Is the drinking, working out PC Bro really a stereotype? Doesn’t seem to fit or be working. The PC chant was pretty good though.
-where was Kenny this whole episode?