As you guys may or may not know, South Park's milestone 25th season is going to air soon, on Wednesday, Februrary 2nd. This is a welcome relief, since the last season with weekly episodes was Season 23 back in 2019. 2020 and 2021 - for obvious reasons, but still - have been the only years in the show's entire history where there wasn't a new season. Bridging the gap between 2019 and 2022 were four 'specials', but it really wasn't the same... so I'm glad we're getting back to normal. I hope that the show can finally shake off the torrent of ugly current events that have plagued it for the last 4-5 years, and that we can get some unexpected topics and, hopefully, some genuinely funny bits. I'll post my thoughts on each episode here as I watch them.

 #spoilies ahead I guess, so don't read if you don't want to hear me talk about the plot of the episodes or some of the jokes!

March 9th, 2022
S5 E5: "Help, My Teenager Hates Me"

"The boys find out that the joys of playing Airsoft come with the challenges of dealing with teenagers." - Press release

This. THIS right here is exactly, exactly what I have wanted from South Park for years now. The boys having fun - all of them - and just doing stupid, dumb, inconsequential things. This episode made me so happy. I loved it.

The boys get into airsoft! What's better than running around and shooting your friends with little plastic pellets?? Nothing, that's what. The boys are filled with pure, unadulterated joy when they go play airsoft for the first time, and they're each paired with a teenager who knows the game better than they do.

I have to take a minute right here and just gush about how fucking cute this episode was. I miss seeing these boys happy. It's been years. They even admit that this is the most fun they've had in God knows when. They're smiling and laughing when they leave the field, and even during the game. Cartman and Kyle get into a little bit over a tizzy when Cartman gets shot and he won't admit it, but he gives in good-naturedly and they carry on as if nothing happened. Kenny even gets screentime, and - get this!!! - he gets to talk, too!!

Anyway! After the game, the boys are still heady over how fun their new hobby is - until their assigned teenagers show up at their houses and start causing all sorts of problems for them. The 'bruhs' got a tiny bit repetitive, but honestly, I say 'bruh' 30 times a day, so I give them a pass. The teens' attitudes were obviously exaggerated, but all very funny, and they got a lot of laughs out of me. The boys trying desperately to deal with them in a sudden parenting role was priceless.

They continue getting more and more frustrated as the teenagers ruin the game and their lives. They consider giving up airsoft entirely, until Gerald comes to the rescue, recruiting Randy, Stuart, and even Jimbo (!) to gun down the teenagers alongside the boys. This was such a wholesome and unexpected development for the boys and their dads to actually get to bond. Eric is usually the butt of the joke on account of not having a dad (and those jokes are hilarious), but the fact that Gerald even took that into account and brought Jimbo was so shockingly sweet that it I almost forgot what show I was watching.

Eric was so fucking cute in this episode, it was weird. He had like, zero maladaptive, evil behavior. He shot Kyle in the head, but it was very much a non-event. They even laugh and tease each other later when they run into each other in the supermarket. I can't remember the last time they were together and didn't want to viscerally kill each other, except for the episodes that force them to pair off with each other. It was refreshing to see them being civil and actually having fun together!

Onto the jokes. Such a simple one, but Eric saying "I live in a hot dog" so dejectedly killed me every time. His comment on bringing the lotion into the bathroom was also hilarious - "He goes through like two bottles a day, how soft do his hands need to be?"

I love the scene when the boys are all sitting around the table at Denny's like a bunch of concerned moms. "And if we say anything," [in unison] "they're just gonna threaten to kill themselves."

Stan's exasperated little meltdown near the end of the episode is so god damn funny. "I just, I can't." The boys having to take on the more mature roles when faced with older people is a joke format they used to use in a lot of older episodes, for good reason - it's the basis of so much good comedy.

AND! AND! Stan mentioning Sparky made me so excited that I had to pause the episode and lose it for a minute. It was such a special little moment, idk. I know that's just a dumb little detail but it made me really happy. This episode was a godsend for people who get way too attached to South Park character and #lore.

Quick, mods are asleep, post South Park Naruto.

March 2nd, 2022
S5 E4: "Back to the Cold War"

"A lot is riding on Butter's ability to crush the competition in the all-important dressage championship." - Press release

This episode was almost aggressively mediocre. It was in regards to the ongoing crisis in Europe right now, which is a topic I'm not really emotionally equipped to talk much about, so I was quite worried about watching it. I think they made the right call distancing the episode from too many specifics and making it very generic, but there weren't too many actual jokes, so it fell flat.

Butters on a horse! That much I liked. I think his dressage hobby is very sweet, and it's nice that his parents actually encouraged him and allowed him to get into it. I think horseback riding could have been the source of a lot of specific, humorous jokes, especially since Trey Parker's daughter does dressage and he's familiar with it... but instead we got horse poop and horse penis, which was maybe slightly funny the first time but tiresome after that.

The homages to 80's movies and the very generic 'evil Russian spy' storylines were sort of funny, but nothing laugh-out-loud. The episode ended with sort of a dig on nostalgia culture, and how people ignore the negative things from their childhood and pretend that things were so much better back then than they are now. I think that's true, but it didn't meld with the episode as a whole, and felt kind of tacky. This was amplified by Mr. Mackey's speech that basically boiled down to 'I know you want to nuke everyone because you're old and your dick doesn't work, but maybe don't do that! Yay! Problem solved!"

I wasn't a very big fan of this episode; it just felt like nothing happened in it. I can't think of any jokes that really made me laugh, either. Butters' dad's little fits over Butters' performance were a little funny, but that's just because Stephen's delivery is always funny. Overall, this was a very forgettable episode I don't plan on watching again.

Butters on a horse was the best part of this episode.

Feb. 16th, 2022
S5 E3: "City People"

"Cartman is furious with his mom when she tells him about her new job." - Press release

This review is coming a little bit late because I started a new job this week! So, with this episode, my friend and I really had no idea what we were going to get. The title, the trailer, the promo pics... we really had no idea what we were in for! What we got was a very pleasant surprise, honestly - while not the funniest episode ever by a long shot, it would have felt right at home in seasons 13 - 16. This is the first episode of the season to feel like a completely 'normal' episode!!

As has unfortunately been stated elsewhere, Cartman is my favorite character, so I am grateful for any amount of tiny, insignificant content that I can use to pretend he has character depth, and this episode actually had some!! Not like it's surprising at all, since it's obvious and previous episodes have already addressed it, but Cartman has a very complex relationship with his mother. He manipulates and verbally attacks her at nearly every opportunity, getting her to do whatever he wants, and it's not very often that Liane stands up for herself or refuses to give in to his whims. This episode was all about the conflict of Liane getting a new job, and Eric being forced to grapple with the idea that he would have to see his mother as a 'person' instead of a 'mom'.

Of course, instead of just dealing with the idea that he might have to cook for himself twice a week or be in the house by himself, he tries to sabotage Liane at every possible opportunity. This eventually leads to a shootout during which the two are hiding, and Liane screams at him, "Will you stop this if I quit my job?!"

Eric acquieses, and shows an uncharacteristic amount of vulnerability as he asks her if this means she won't leave him, and despite her anger and extreme frustration with having to give up her job, Eric smiles. Now, this is obviously a terrible, shitty thing to do, and I am absolutely not defending it (Eric was a little prick in this episode and he fucked up a lot of things for both him and Liane), but I was surprised by how obvious they made his intentions in this situation, and how, to him, he wasn't doing this out of malice, but fear and anxiety.

ANYWAY, Eric analysis over, let's talk jokes. There definitely were some lines that made me laugh. I liked how Eric, as a realtor, didn't refer to any addresses, but showed clients properties like "Clyde's house, Jimmy's house, and my personal favorite - Kyle's house!" Somebody on tumblr pointed out that every single house's description was the same, on account of every house being the same graphic in a different color. I found it really funny how each realtor video had the exact same stock footage of cows in it. I have no idea why, but the phrase 'bottled water in metal bottles' made me laugh for like a minute straight. Also, we had to look up what a cortado is. It's half espresso and half warm milk.

My friend and I had to pause the episode during the chamber of commerce meeting because we could not remember who that one lady was. If anyone cares, it's Henrietta and Bradley's mom btw <3

It was nice to see Jimbo after what feels like eight years, lol. I get excited any time minor characters show up, even if they are not important. Like the mayor!! I love her.

Overall I liked this episode well enough. I was disappointed that Butters wasn't in it more tho :(( I love Butters and Eric episodes sooooo much. [Craig voice] If they would give us a Butters and Eric episode, I would be soooooo happy.

We remembered to do a bingo card this time!! We really had NO idea what the episode would be like, so our guesses are kind of all over the place. The episode title made us think it would be more City Wok-focused. No bingo this time, but we did cross off a lot of things.

Hope to see you again next week! Let's pray for a Kyle episode!!

Feb. 9th, 2022
S25 E2: "The Big Fix"

"On this week's episode of South Park, 'The Big Fix,' Stan’s horrified to realize he’s misinterpreted some of the greatest writing of all time." - Press release

Ohhh boy... my response to this episode is more than a little complicated. I am definitely feeling kind of deflated after watching compared to the joy I had from last week lol. It isn't like it was the worst episode ever and I actually did laugh a lot during it, but... well, let's dive in.

From the VERY first frame of the episode, I was like... fucking really, more Randy? I honestly wanted to turn the episode off right there. I've been sick of him for years now, and I know it's not just me... but there really is a disconnect between the 'fandom' fans hating Randy and the non-participating fans that think he's really funny. It's absurd to think that Matt and Trey would respond to the wishes of random people online, but still.... I'm so tired of him. The last episode made it feel like we would get a break, and we just didn't.

Moving on the the crux of this week's episode, which was the 'reveal', if you will, of To(l)ke(i)n's name. It took me a second to process, but it was fucking funny, especially seeing Stan's reaction. The fact that every single other person besides Stan was already aware of this was hilarious, and it reminded me of Kyle's moment in Humancentipad when he's like "nobody reads the Terms and Conditions, right?", only to find out that he's the singular person who doesn't read them. The best portion of the joke was more meta, because all the clips on the South Park website and even the official Wiki (plus the mobile game) have been updated with the correct spelling. It'll be interesting to see if they commit to this new spelling as a retcon, or if it was just a very in-depth one-off joke.

This episode brought in some more of the 'fake wokeness' as heavily addressed in S19. Randy attempting to take advantage of To(l)ke(i)n's family and use them as 'proof' that he's not racist is similar to plots from other episodes, and there were a few jokes that were sort of funny, but mostly it's just like, we already hate Randy and every little thing you show him doing just makes it worse.

I feel like the episode was also vaaaguely talking about a lot of the book-banning and questioning of media in schools going on, but whatever message they were trying to impart didn't really land. The episode really did have too much going on, in my opinion. One part that really did catch me off guard and make me laugh was when Stan was talking about making the classroom more open and welcoming to Token while literally making him stand outside so as to avoid any potentially harmful or offensive things he might say on accident.

Also, I find it amusing that they kept bringing up the point "Why would his parents name him Token?" because, as a fan who thinks about fic and fan art and the characters actually interacting, I have literally thought about this for years. I'm sure some people watching the episode would be like "Oh my God, yeah, that makes no sense haha!", but I've been tackling that idea for so long that I'd just resigned it to a case of 'this media was not meant to be taken that seriously, and you probably can't make it make sense in-universe'.

The ending of the episode was a real fucking slap in the face to be honest, and this is where most of my issues are coming from. They could have ended it with Token's family buying the farm across the street and setting up a rivalry for next episode. While I am sick to death of Tegridy Farms, this would at least show an attempt to spin the serialized story in a new direction and also give an opportunity to explore some under-utilized characters. Plus, Stan was so, so excited to have a friend nearby; his joy was so sweet and palpable, and God fucking knows the kid needs a break for once.

^ (I'm just gonna pretend the episode ended right here, because this scene was so darling and genuine. Fuck Randy. All my homies hate Randy)

But the episode did not end there. There was a really just genuinely foul and hateful moment where Randy, who's pissed off about Token's dad opening his own business as a result of Randy's own horrible behavior, takes out this anger on his percieved "rival's" child and physically grabs Token and throws him out of his house, saying that he's no longer allowed to come over and play with Stan. It happened so fast and it was just such an ugly moment that I had no idea how to respond to it.

For me, this scene was probably the breaking point. I've been harping on Randy and complaining about him for years because he's annoying and I'm tired of him, but genuinely, fuck this guy. He's been teetering on the edge for way too long and this finally pushed him over. I would have no problems if Matt and Trey decide to take a path that genuinely is like 'Randy is fucking terrible and he gets what's coming to him'; in fact, I really, really think the show needs to do that at this point. He's always been an asshole but in earlier seasons, it was funny. The last four to five years have instead shown him literally destroying his family and having no concern for anyone other than himself. He genuinely makes me furious. I don't think I can laugh at any supposed 'funny antics' he pulls after this. Even when the show crosses into bad taste territory, there are like, fewer scenes than I can count on one hand that genuinely feel like they came from a place of hate, and this was one of them. Genuinely fuck Randy. I hope they kill him off and I'm not even kidding.

My friend and I forgot to do a bingo card this week. Hopefully we'll do one next week. Remember: Randy Marsh fucking sucks and we hate him, please stop making every single episode about him. See you next week.

Feb. 2nd, 2022
S25 E1: "Pajama Day"

"Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny do not get to wear their pajamas to school on the most important day of the year in the season 25 premiere [.] ...After failing to show respect for their teacher, PC Principal revokes Pajama Day privileges for the entire 4th grade class. Cartman is distraught. The kids aren’t going to stand for it but PC Principal refuses to back down." - Press release

Yay!! Season 25 begins!!!! I watched the premiere live with my friend and we had a fucking ball. We laughed so hard it almost hurt. I think that says more about how excited we were rather than the actual quality of the episode, but we were so fucking stoked the whole time.

This episode gave me exactly what I wanted: stupid bullshit. I just wanted it to be goofy and normal. Obviously we all know what 'pajamas' is code for in this episode, but whatever. I have never been opposed to the commentary aspect of South Park - it's a cornerstone of the show - but I just wanted the tiniest bit of rest already!!!! So even the very thinly veiled layer of sarcasm/symbolism in this ep was fine for me to still laugh at it.

Welcome back Mr. Garrison... honestly it meant a lot to see him doing his job as a teacher again instead of [REDACTED]. It reminded me that I actually used to love him and think he was so funny. He's so extra but he and his boyfriend Rick are actually really cute, haha. Good for them!! Who knows if it will last, but still.

I felt pretty bad for PC Principal in this episode. It was definitely a funny episode, but when he's crying and talking to Wendy about giving up because he just can't please everybody at once, it hit pretty hard. With so many people in so many different groups so angry about everything nowadays (not saying that as if to dismiss the reasons people are angry), and this climate of mistrust and aggression, even the people who you thought were on your side might just be too fed up to listen to you anymore. And at the same time, the people you fundamentally agree with might be doing terrible things that you absolutely do not agree with. Idk, it was a very small scene, but it was definitely talking about something larger, maybe even Hashtag PC Culture (whatever that even means now) as a whole, or just trying to stand up for your beliefs in general.

The pajama song goes hard as fuck!! We were laughing a lot during that part. Cartman's nightmare had me fucking shrieking. "And I wasn't wearing my pajamas, AND THEN I DIED!!!" I loved that he literally sees Pajama Day as a red carpet event lmao. *Liane voice* "Matt Damon told me to be brave, and I lost all of my fucking money!"

I was so surprised that Wendy actually got attention. Yes!! Let's fucking go!!!! You love to see it!!!!! Love her so much.

Prior to the title drop, I made a S25 premiere bingo card with random ideas for stuff that might possibly happen. I want to make one every week lol, after each press release tells us the name of the episode. Here's our results for this episode. We decided that Kyle's day ended up being good because he got to wear his pajamas, and that since Craig actually spoke, he and Tweek actually counted in this episode and were not just sitting there for the gay agenda (although we love them when they do that anyway. #lovewins<3)

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