Welcome back to all y’all South Park fans and haters to the second half of season 13, the first half of which already brought us the highly divisive “Fishsticks” and “Pinewood Derby” episodes. I think what Sean O’Neal and I have learned about writing this TV Club recap every week is that no matter what opinion we hold about the episode, many of you will quietly agree and many more will shout at the top of your Internet lungs about how stupid we are. It’s a thankless task sometimes, but if South Park isn’t about schadenfreude, what is it about? I guess it’s a testament to the show’s continued relevance that people can so strongly disagree every damn week. It makes me wonder if we should start each review by restating which eps we liked, so you readers can judge whether our opinions fall in line with your own. So… I liked “Fishsticks” a lot, didn’t really like “Pinewood Derby,” and quite liked the one that everybody hated with all the Internet memes fighting each other.
Anyway, on to tonight’s show, “Dead Celebrities.” South Park has built many, many episodes on celebrity takedowns, but they can be a double-edged sword: It’s easy to make the same jokes that the rest of the world already has, and the targets are often awfully obvious. It’s tricky to do well. That said, I’m glad they decided to cross so many celebs off the list tonight, even if it meant more beating of the dead Michael Jackson horse. And thank God they didn’t dedicate an entire episode to Billy Mays or the Ghost Hunters guys, because they’re honestly just too hard to make fun of: All you’d have to do is essentially repeat exactly what they say and it’s just like parodying it. It’s ridicule-proof because it’s so damn stupid to begin with.
Now, the part of South Park that I love was also in play here, particularly in the subplot about Chipotle making your ass bleed. It’s the kind of beautifully random, totally ridiculous thread that will probably stick with viewers of the show forever. I love Chipotle, and I won’t stop eating it, but I imagine it’ll be a couple of years before I eat it without thinking about bloody underwear and a special spray to clean that underwear. So good on ya, South Park, and sorry to hear about your troubles, Chipotle stock.
I’m also a little bit of a sucker for both Ike and Michael Jackson jokes (especially simple repetition of the word “ignorant”), so that plot felt pretty fun to me. I think there’s probably a better, subtler South Park about the horrors of child beauty pageants to be made, but this one wasn’t bad: The judges beating off was a little on-the-nose, but what can you do?
The celebrities all sitting on the plane together: Meh. The ghost of David Carradine in his bondage gear was offensive in all the right ways, but everybody else just arguing—and too much Billy Mays—made the whole thing seem a little overdrawn. Also: All of the Poltergeist and Sixth Sense references fell a little flat—they were basically just lifting lines from those movies, and as we all know, reference-humor with no punchlines should stay over at Family Guy, where it belongs.
Still, overall—a decent episode. Not one for the history books by any means, but enjoyable just the same.
— Kyle’s parents fucking is a pretty good way to start any episode.
— When did Ike learn to speak (and swear) so well?
— “It’s the gayest show in the fucking world!”
— “No, that’s ignorant, I’m not dead. I Just have a skin condition.”
— “Not everybody can be the boy with the golden butthole!”