SOUTH PARK Season 19: Wild Speculation About What’s to Come
There’s been a strange, steady shift in the winds that seem to guide SOUTH PARK’s sails over the last few seasons. It’s not that they’ve necessarily become more tame, more so that they seem to be biting their tongues and taking time to balance the positions they assert in order to come to a conclusion that no one can entirely disagree with. In a way, this makes sense; Matt and Trey are older, they’ve made an incredibly successful musical, and they should have more mature takes on current cultural issues week to week. Even more interesting, their attention spans seem to be expanding, as they’re beginning to extend jokes from one episode to the next rather than leaving them behind at the end of every twenty-one minute increment (although this hasn’t always been a great thing).
Pictured: A Dead Horse
The first two episodes of SOUTH PARK’s nineteenth season seem to be going even deeper into serializing the series rather than just bringing individual jokes about Randy’s secret identity back ad nauseum. These episodes, “Stunning and Brave” and “Where My Country Gone”, both deal with the growing divide in American culture between the vehemently politically correct and the abrasively politically incorrect. The first episode, “Stunning and Brave”, deals with a horde of politically correct white bros who have moved to South Park, started a “PC fraternity”, and are bullying and silencing those who will not fall in line with the new order of never using language that marginalizes or criticizes minority groups of any kind. The second episode, “Where My Country Gone”, follows Mr. Garrison as he wages war against the flood of undocumented Canadian immigrants who have recently all fled to South Park and the rest of the United States.
What’s particularly great about these two episodes is that they both show a new trust in SOUTH PARK’s audience to read into the subtext of scenes rather than needing to explicitly spell out their point of view. “Stunning and Brave” was best when it left things unsaid but heavily implied. The PC bros are obnoxious, selfish white guys with anger issues, but they come out as heroes because they have adopted an en vogue dialect of “tolerance”. Furthermore, Cartman gets beat up by PC Principal and seemingly has a change of heart towards being more openminded, but as one Anon on 4chan pointed out, Cartman is “a fat asshole that follows any principle that will benefit him in his efforts to make other people suffer”. Cartman is changing with the times in order to stay the same selfish asshole, just like the PC Bros. However, neither of these things have to be explicitly spelled out in a stereotypical “Kyle explains everything in a monologue at the end of the episode” format, because Matt and Trey are beginning to trust their audience to pick up on what they’re laying down.
A welcome change of pace in regards to subtlety
This ends up becoming essential to the premise of “Where My Country Gone”, which begins with Kyle being called on stage to give a speech supporting Caitlyn Jenner, despite his complete disinterest in doing so. For the rest of the episode, each character gets really angry with Kyle anytime he’s cued to make a speech and explain everything. This isn’t the first time South Park has self-reflexively made fun of their own favorite narrative crutch, but this seems to be a statement proclaiming that they’re done using it for good. The rest of the episode is about Mr.Garrison saying horribly offensive things to large crowds and trying to push Canadians out of the United States, much like Donald Trump is currently attempting to do with Mexico. Garrison’s brash, attention-grabbing rhetoric eventually leads him to going to Canada to rape and kill the Canadian prime minister, who incidentally looks a lot like Donald Trump.
Admittedly, this version of Donald Trump is a much better dancer
Kyle barely has time to say that sensationalist politics like Mr. Garrison’s are the cause of the rise of people like Donald Trump before he gets completely shut down by the rest of the crowd. It’s a great bit because it’s very clear that nobody wants to listen to the voice of reason anymore, politically correct social justice warriors and conservative blow-hards alike. If the show continues down the path it’s currently headed, where it actively silences the voice of reason and constantly escalates the actions of characters from episode to episode, we could end up with a season where characters do some truly horrendous shit to each other and we’ll only have ourselves to blame. Unlike last season where jokes outstayed their welcome, this season has the potential to be an extended, synthesized lambast of this exact bizarre point in history that we’re living in. I, for one, couldn’t be more excited.
Buckle up, buckaroos
SOUTH PARK is currently airing on Comedy Central and southpark.com, but is available to watch on Hulu