Available: Wednesdays at 10P on Comedy Central
Created by: Trey Parker and Matt Stone
Genre: Animation, Comedy
My Rating: ****/5
The animated TV series “South Park” has begun its 21st successful season on Comedy Central. While it may not be the best season of the long-running animated TV series as of yet, it still proves to be a worthy piece of raunchy comedy and topical social commentary.
After other recent seasons have experimented with serialized narratives, the show has returned to the episodic story structure that was present in earlier seasons. Tackling subject matter such as the Charlottesville riots, inflammatory presidential Twitter posts and the “23 and Me” DNA testing site; Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s satirical and intentionally-crude animated series retains the same appeal that it had ever since their original short, “The Spirit of Christmas.”
The season premiere, “White People Renovating Houses,” in addition to spoofing the incident in Charlottesville this past August; also parodies the prolific nature of reality TV about interior design; as well as electronic assistant devices. The scene where Eric Cartman’s Amazon Alexa is replaced with a rustic substitute known as “Jim Bob” is hilarious, complete with an acoustic cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.”
The following episode, “Put it Down” uses the POV of hyperactive student Tweek to not only parody the inexplicable obsession with the “fidget spinner,” but also provide a surprising insight to the current tensions in North Korea. Series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone had previously addressed this subject matter in the puppet comedy “Team America: World Police.”
Even after all these years, the show remains an “equal opportunity offender;” leaving no target off-limits for mockery. The episode “Holiday Special” not only satirizes the desire to find one’s DNA ancestry, but also the often polarizing nature of observing the holiday of Columbus Day in our society. There’s also a running gag about the “fake news” controversy as well as a parody of Mark Zuckerberg’s confusing response to the issue. Even the recent Facebook blackout isn’t spared of mockery.
While this season may not be the best of this long-running series as of this writing, the fact that “South Park” is still airing after all these years is a testament to its appeal. One of the great strengths of comedy is the ability to criticize through distortion and help people laugh at issues; even when very little about some aspects of society is funny. Whatever lies ahead for the season and the series, it will keep people coming back for years to come.
Review by Steven Pryor