South Park “The City Side of Town” Review
Season 19, Episode 3
“South Park” is starting to get caught up in its own joke, and while the last two episodes were funny enough to warrant this, this week resulted in one of the show’s more tame – and bland – offerings.
This week kicked off with a Jimmy Fallon monologue making fun of South Park…and the town taking it quite hard. Randy, now one of the more progressive voices in town, decided that the town needs a Whole Foods to help the image problem. How is South Park going to attract a high-end business like Whole Foods? With its own new fancy shopping and food district; SodoSopa.
Of course, this new planning development is set to go right where Kenny lives. But, in order to keep that original architecture that hipsters like, the new developments are built ridiculously close to and surrounding our orange-coated little friends abode. These new businesses are also pulling customers away from Tuong Lu Kim’s City Wok, who then decided to start using child labor (with Kenny signing up, because he apparently decided he needed a job) to try to put a stop to SodoSopa.
Meanwhile, a Whole Foods representative visited town, trying to go around and see if South Park actually is progressive enough to warrant such a chain to finally move in. Randy and the Mayor are on damage control, trying to make sure everything is spick and span and that nothing goes wrong.
To fight back, Kenny puts together a video for City Wok (which had one of the biggest laughs of the night), and Randy and the rest of the adults rush to try to stop things before the Whole Foods guy finds the child labor force. The advertisement for the Lofts (and then the Residences, and then the Villas at Kenny’s house) at SodoSopa was a pretty good bit, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen the show do before, and it’s not really a surprise when everything backfires and the whole endevour erupted into a fight between the adults and Kim’s child labor force.
For some reason the Whole Foods guy decided the town putting in effort was enough, and still granted them a Whole Foods. Kenny used the money he made to buy his sister a doll; an oddly saccharine gesture, but one that also seems to be grounding the show in more down-to-earth moments.
The underlying concept that Kim represented an older (and more racist) part of the show was an interesting idea, but one that never really developed. And, while it spends a whole episode on the idea of gentrification, it never really dug into the issue, or said anything about it, aside from taking a few shots and pointing out how silly it can sometimes be. That’s pretty sub-par fare, as far as the show is concerned, and a disappointment after the wit the show displayed last week.
There’s a bigger underlying problem though, and one that is going to get riskier and riskier the longer the season wears on. The problem that “South Park” faces is that as it continues to develop the whole PC-ification of the show, it risks the joke no longer being a joke and “South Park” becoming a run-of-the-mill, more ordinary and PC-friendly, cartoon. Some may argue that South Park lost its fire some time ago, but either way it would be sad to see “South Park” so caught up in its own commentary that it loses what made it different and unique in the first place. Maybe – just maybe – that’s the point and what Matt and Trey are working for this season, but hopefully not. There are places the show could still take the joke, but it needs to be careful not to get too caught up in itself, and as a result actually creating a future where a tamer, and less funny, “South Park” is the norm.
Notes and quotes:
-Not a lot of laughs this week, but a few good lines.
-“We’re gentrifying, it’s all good.”
-No swearing, no weirdness, and no speeches.
-“from Colorado’s many oceans” may have been the best laugh of the week
-“Lets go child labor force, let’s go.”
-“Why do the economically challenged have to screw up everything?”
-the butcher scene (the reclaimed metals bit especially)
-wait, is Garrison not teaching anymore?
-“Are the Mexicans actually staying? Shushh.”