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SOUTH PARK “Taming Strange” Episode Recap

Spoilers Ahead:

This might be one of the finest Canadian-theme South Park episodes I’ve seen. Especially for a longtime fan of the series. Many of the jokes herein refer to past episodes. Take, for instance, queefs, the differences between buddy/guy/friend, and so on, so forth. But I think the most important part of this episode is that it’s simply funny.

There are so many things going on in this episode and I think because of that, no one joke becomes stale. It’s possible that the queef joke might, to some extent, only because it was the major storyline of a previous episode (Eat, Pray, Queef).  And I feel that the multitude of layers keeps the message from being too on the nose. Mr. Mackey introduces Intellilink, which is an obvious stand-in for the Affordable Care Act’s online registration issue. Every button pushed causes music to play on the intercom, the blinds to go up and down, or the lights to go on and off. It would be easy for Matt and Trey to go the easy route and just bring in Obama, Sebelius, Tea Partiers and just say it up front. Instead, they filter this message through an absurd storyline about Kyle’s brother, Ike, having grown up and experiencing puberty.

Fans know Ike. He’s the babbling, floppy-headed adopted Canadian brother who has shown support of McCain and has slept with his teacher. But he’s going through what’s dubbed “Canadian Puberty”, which apparently hits at a much younger age than its American counterpart. He’s moody, zitty, and has developed a penchant for chewing tobacco. I like the moment when Ike laments the confusion deciding between watching Yo Gabba Gabba or going out and “taming some strange”. I also enjoy his little mustache. Finding out that his problems are rooted in Canada’s healthcare system using Intellilink is funny, but maybe a little obvious (as the right wingers like to compare ACA to Canada’s system). But it’s even better when it’s revealed his constipation medicine is going to some athlete in the northeast, explaining why Tom Brady is having such an off year. This episode truly is a pastiche of pretty much every story and non-story of the past few weeks.

When Ike finally does tame some strange, Yo Gabba Gabba’s Foofa is his victim. Apparently this was the push she needed to move on from children’s entertainment and embark on a Miley-esque journey down the twerking rabbit hole. Even Sinead O’Connor joins the rest of the Gabba cast to appeal to Foofa, much like O’Connor’s real life email to Miley. Every moment of this episode was a reference, which is fun, but a bit laborious at times. I’m just glad I have co-workers willing to discuss these things openly in the break room, or else my complete apathy for anything Miley might have made this episode harder to follow.

I thought the bits involving Intellilink were pretty funny. South Park rarely misses a chance to have someone take a shit, but Mackey exclaiming his pride in holding an appointment with a student while shitting at the same time made the whole scene worth it. When the story forays into the Canadian Minister of Health subplot, I found myself thinking this could have been either excised in favor of more Kyle and Ike, or just trimmed a bit. It felt like it was a bit pointless. When Mackey hires a Kathleen Sebelius stand-in to take the unwarranted blame for the Intellilink debacle, I felt we were provided the point well enough there. The Minister subplot certainly didn’t ruin the episode for me, it just weakened it some. Although, I can’t help but laugh when they say, “queef” in a Canadian accent. Again, I’m just happy they didn’t take the easy route and have Obama be the defensive one to Michelle.

I had a discussion with someone about whether South Park was taking a right-leaning stance here. It was before I was able to watch the episode, however. I did say I feel like South Park has always taken the opportunity to skewer anyone and everyone. No one is safe. They say it all the time. Here though, I think it’s important to mention, that I don’t believe this is South Park’s statement on the Affordable Healthcare Act, at all. This is a statement on the online registration debacle. I think they succeeded. Tell me what you think in the comments section below! As always, please tell me how wrong I am.

 

Weekly Pairing:

I feel like I can’t quite compare this with any one episode. In fact, I feel like the Canadian and political satires deserve a strong comparison to the South Park movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.

After-Thoughts:

 

–       I know South Park likes the shock humor, but why did that Intellilink service guy kill himself? I chuckled, I guess, if that was the intention.

–       Does Obama deserve a giant queef in his face?

–       Same with not including Obama or ACA directly, I like that they never mentioned Miley Cyrus directly. This was smart.

–       Ike threatening Kyle with, “Kick the baby, brah” was priceless. A real treat for longtime fans.

–       I don’t feel like I learned anything here. Not that I’m supposed to, no. But I also don’t feel like I’m considering or reconsidering my way of thinking in a new light either, like many South Park episodes can do. I feel like maybe this episode simply gave voice to my exasperation during this whole ACA issue.

–       Also, I never refer to ACA as Obamacare. I really hate all these pun put-downs for politics (and sports, too). It really has got to stop. You’re not clever or funny and you haven’t changed anyone’s mind.

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The Author

Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien

Michael graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Film Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2009. He currently lives with his wife, two cats (and Netflix account) in NYC. He has published short stories on 400words.com and asouthernjournal.com. He has published poems in The Poetry Gymnasium by Dr. Tom Hunley and in The Roundtable.