South Park returns with a solid new season

O'Ryan Nelson, Staff Writer

It’s no secret that South Park has become a staple in American culture as a darkly comedic satire on American culture and has become one of the titans of the adult animation industry. Even being started all the way back in 1997, South Park continues to make entertaining and modern episodes about whatever trends continue in America.

south park bus stop
Iconic imagery of the South Park bus stop (Comedy Central).

The first episode of the season, Cupid Ye, takes a stance on the Kanye West debacle, more specifically the antisemitism side of the situation, taking the form of resident Jewish character Kyle being accused of running Hollywood. The episode has good laughs throughout, ridiculing West’s anti semitic takes as well as those of people who believe that Jewish people actually run Hollywood.

Worldwide Privacy Tour, the second, and most popular, episode tackles the issue of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of the British Royal Family, and their lack of self awareness with their attention seeking antics across the world. The episode also takes a stab at celebrity culture in general, which South Park has never shied away from, and ultimately makes a stance against attention seeking celebrities, as they ultimately contribute nothing but annoyance to the general public.

The third, and weirdest episode, Japanese Toilets, is about the toilet paper industry, and for some reason includes heavy parallels to JFK’s presidency, as well as his assassination. Honestly there isn’t much to say about the episode, as it is on another level of weird, as it’s meta commentary about the toilet paper industry and political assassinations are very out there and give off an almost conspiracy theory-esque vibe to it.

Deep-Learning, the fourth episode takes on the epidemic of AI tools being used in the educational sphere, from students using it to make whole essays, teachers using it to make and grade assignments, as well as characters in the show using it to text their girlfriends and avoid talking to them directly. The episode has a compelling and hilarious plot about the use of ChatGPT, as well as the best episode ending that South Park has ever had. 

The 5th episode, DikinBaus Hotdogs, despite its very vulgar title, has a lot to say. Specifically it has a lot to say about the current workforce of the US, and how Gen Z and millennials affect it. The episode revolves around Butters and Cartman getting jobs, with Butters taking his job very seriously and working according to his schedule and following workplace guidelines, Cartman is the direct opposite, taking breaks often, being on his phone during work, asking for mental health days, and requesting to work from home, despite working at an ice cream parlor. 

The episode then continues with Cartman and Kenny deciding to open their own business, DikinBaus Hotdogs, only to find every employee they try to hire ends up like Cartman, asking for days off and requesting remote working or more mental health days. Although the message of the episode is a controversial one and one that many see as outdated or insensitive, it’s a necessary one that many need to understand; as we come back to normalcy in the post pandemic world, people need to be return to normalcy as well, and not abuse the protocols that were in place during the pandemic like mental health days and other overly lenient policies.

The season finale, Spring Break, takes a stab at two very controversial and very relevant topics of current America: toxic masculinity, and Trump’s potential 2024 campaign. The episode’s 2 subplots involving the characters of Randy and Garrison, the show’s Trump stand in, both discuss the ideas on codependency and how people will often be influenced by outside forces to become people that they aren’t or uphold ideas that are self destructive. 

Featuring a parody of infamous internet figure Andrew Tate, Randy’s storyline tackles his actions to embrace his masculinity while also exposing how the superficial lifestyle pushed by figures like Andrew Tate is ultimately not sustainable or self fulfilling for any man. The Garrison storyline shows how even in the show’s universe, Trump’s legacy has been upheld by his supporters, and has warped the Republican Party into the Trump party. The episode ultimately has Garrison calling for his boyfriend Rick to come back to him, leading to his supporters parroting his words and chanting while storming the capitol.

Overall, despite the ups and downs of some of the episodes, this season has worked well as a combination of the absurdist humor of the earlier seasons as well as the layered political commentary and satire of the more recent seasons.