The 23rd season of South Park kicks off with some scathing political commentary, something the previous season largely avoided.
Constantly cracking Trump jokes wasn’t something the creators of the show intended, lest the sketches become as flat and humorless as SNL; not to mention, the Trump presidency is incredibly difficult to parody. How can you satirize somebody like this?
The answer might just be to avoid the clownish personality entirely, and satirize the actions of the administration, something that “Mexican Joker” does exceedingly well. Though, the incredible tragedy of the situation often undercuts the humor. Today In: Consumer
The loose narrative connection between the episodes and previous seasons remains, as Stan and his family are still living off the land as weed farmers. The ease in which the townsfolk can simply grow their own strains, however, is giving Randy anxiety. The budding marijuana industry is still coasting on the laid-back, hippy reputation associated with the plant, but business is business, and marijuana distributors are just as profit-hungry as everyone else.
Cartman, meanwhile, is succumbing to the nihilism often experienced by Generation Z, facing a future of environmental catastrophe; rather out of character for Cartman, but of course, he soon finds salvation in selfishness and spite.
After learning of the alarming authority of ICE, Cartman wastes no time in accusing Kyle of being an illegal immigrant (notice that Cartman’s personality no longer feels like a caricature anymore). Kyle’s entire family is soon detained and separated, after Kyle’s dad fails to find their passports. Utilizing the sounds of real crying children, the scene is incredibly dark, too accurate to amuse.
As Kyle is detained in the “detention camps,” his distinctive name and appearance is soon noticed by the authorities, who are absolutely horrified to learn that Kyle is Jewish – locking up a child of that particular ethnicity makes for real bad optics. “People might think we’re racist” might be the most devastating line the writers of South Park have conceived in years.
As the ICE agents struggle with the issue of Kyle’s identity, and the parallels to concentration camps, Kyle points out that the brutality of locking children in cages might just be breeding future hostility toward America – a tragic backstory for a supervillain like “Mexican Joker.”
Of course, the idea of Mexican Joker is utterly terrifying to the ICE agents, and the authorities spend their time desperately trying to undo the immense psychological damage they have caused. It’s a hilarious parallel to the ridiculous backlash against the new Joker film, as though a single comic book movie is an issue worth fixating on right now.
Cartman soon joins Kyle in the camp, having been sent there as revenge by Stan. Cartman isn’t fazed by his detention, no doubt confident in the safety of his own skin color, and starts singing tunes from Annie to cheer up the caged children.
Randy, still obsessing over the fact that his customers are able to grow their own weed, resorts to terrorism, blowing up the rival marijuana plants, a crime soon attributed to the fictional Mexican Joker, the new boogeyman of South Park.
As Kyle realizes the power his identity holds over the ICE agents, he comes to a brilliant solution to save the caged children, and converts the entire camp to Judaism, weaponizing his faith to highlight the sickening scale of injustice.
It’s a brilliant start to the season, a clever episode that blends the Joker hysteria, the commodification of stoner culture, and the horror of caging innocent children into one ridiculous story.
There’s also one scene which appears to break the fourth wall, in which Towelie and Randy discuss how tired they are of “the town of South Park,” clearly Matt Stone and Trey Parker expressing their weariness to the audience. Are the two finally done with the show?
If this is to be the last season of South Park, let’s hope the two don’t hold back; there’s a lot to talk about, laugh at, and be outraged by; the series might be old and tired, but reality has never resembled South Park as much as it does today.