REVIEW: South Park’s 22nd Season Rebounds from a Lackluster Season 21


The kids from South Park make a strong comeback in the show's 22nd season.

South Park has proven time and time again to be a respectable platform for creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to speak their minds through satire and humor.  The “Osama Bin Laden Has Poopy Pants” episode was necessary in rebuilding the nation after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in both providing a caricature to the enemy and making said enemy out to be an idiot. Due to these reasons, fans were left head-scratching when the #cancelsouthpark ad campaign popped up with the announcement for season 22.

It soon became clear however, that the ad campaign marks a return to form in how Parker and Stone deal with the issue. One of the major complaints following season 21 was the show’s decision to not pick sides in its issues, instead opting for confusing critiques where not even the audience knows the message the writers are trying to send.  Rotten Tomatoes gave the season a 58% review, stating that season 21 “delivers an uncharacteristically stilted season that feels timid in its satire and unsure of who or what it’s lampooning.”

Thankfully, the writers seem to know what they are trying to say the 22nd time around in deciding to take a stance on 2018’s most controversial topics instead of pandering.

Episode 1 begins with a math test-interrupted suddenly by a school shooting. But, as this takes place in late 2018, nobody really cares except one “emotional” mother. The shootings occur a couple more times in the first episode and occur in the following episodes as well. The message is clear: school shootings will remain commonplace until we stop treating them as such.

Episode 2 deals with the Catholic Church’s most recent child sexual abuse scandal involving its priests from the perspective of South Park’s resident priest. The town collectively attends church on Sundays to make molestation jokes at Father Maxi’s expense. One Child, Butters, views the town’s bullying of Father Maxi with contempt and resolves to become the Father’s friend. In the episodes’ climax, Father Maxi reveals that he knew about the molestations all along but tried to fix them from within the church. The episode understands the public view on church and provides a face to the modern-day catholic church in Father Maxi. His admittance of fault projects new character and perspective in a previously explored issue.

Episode 3 brings back an old character Mr. Hankey, to represent newly seated Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh as he defends his tweet against the town. While this episode isn’t as poignant or accurate as its predecessors in its societal mockery, the episode doesn’t really have anything to mock in good faith, opting instead for a silly episode focusing on a lowlife who tweeted the wrong thing on Ambien.

Episode 4 both attacks vaping and accepts marijuana into legal society with elementary school students buying Juuls from Cartman and Stan’s dad moving the family to a weed farm in California. The episode places an emphasis on Randy’s distaste of vaping and the widespread use of Juul among young people, elucidating the writer’s distaste for the product

Episode 5 addresses a problem worse than any of the previous ones: too many scooters. The Halloween episode resolves to not have a message-and instead just has scooters.

Episodes 6 and 7 have the gang team up with Al Gore and Satan against a demon ManBearPig. The crime scenes have all been labeled “school shootings” by the lazy police that want to get back to playing Red Dead Redemption II. The root of the ManBearPig problem is the elderly driving cars and eating ice cream, an allegory for global warming as the old people push the problem on the youth as it progressively gets worse. The town attempts to make a deal with the demon: it will leave forever if we give up Soy Sauce and Red Dead Redemption II, or it will leave for five years and come back much worse. The kids paint the elderly out to be villains, but in the end everyone is at fault.

All in all, South Park has proven itself one again a worthy platform into its 22nd season as it continues to highlight the importance of controversial topics, albeit in a mock-serious fashion.

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