Review: South Park
The veteran satirists tackle major issues in America's increasingly divisive culture war with no condescension, cringe, or partisan preference.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone do the near-impossible in the 25th season of South Park. The veteran satirists tackle major issues in America's increasingly divisive culture war with no condescension, cringe, or partisan preference.
Consider the season's opener. Some of the children of South Park Elementary are prevented from wearing pajamas on the school's "pajama day." Parents are soon complaining about the emotional damage done to their kids. The news media tar the restriction as a Nazi-like assault on freedom. The townspeople start to wear pajamas in solidarity with the children.
Soon pajamas become mandatory. Those wearing normal clothes are excluded from restaurants and offices. Husbands and wives turn on each other. Scofflaws are thrown in jail.
It's hardly the most subtle metaphor for pandemic-era masking. The cleverness comes from the shifting nature of pajama wearing, from a personal freedom to the target of an arbitrary restriction to the subject of a coercive mandate. The episode's mockery is directed at both those most zealous about complying with rules and those rejecting them. That even-handedness (critics would call it bothsidesism) pops up throughout the season.
An episode about city dwellers moving in droves to South Park manages to satirize both urbanites (whose dialogue is limited to saying "LaCroix," "Tesla," and "Pilates") and NIMBY residents who attempt to massacre real estate agents selling out their town.
The season's take on the Russian invasion of Ukraine skips commentary on the war itself. Instead, it focuses on how characters use the conflict to reclaim their lost youth or justify their own petty prejudices. A few erect horse penises keep everything light-hearted.
There's not much earnest speaking truth to power in this season. The show lets itself be about flawed people living next to each other, and that makes it good comedy.