South Park – “#HappyHolograms”

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It’s my birthday. Hooray! So I want to make this review short because, well, life is short, ya know? And I think Matt and Trey realize this, and they’re coming to terms with it, much like I am. See, this two-part hashtag arc has really been about coming to terms with the fact that we can be okay with not understanding why things are popular for the younger generation. Much like they don’t understand what is popular with ours. And these feeble attempts at trying to merge the two are sort of like trying to put a dog and a cat in the same room, and then incorporating auto-tune and holograms and fat asses. It’s not a perfect analogy.

And neither have these two episodes been perfect. While watching them, they felt both jumbled, lacking focus, and honestly, not that funny. This episode especially had those issues in spades: too much stuff, crammed into ~22 minutes. This subject seemed like it needed a lot more time devoted to it. Or, hell, a lot less. Maybe the ancillary plots (the holograms, the cops and their racist but timely jokes in regards to current events, Randy as Lorde being concluded) were the things that could have been trimmed a bit.

Seriously, everything involving the holograms was dumb. It didn’t work. I get it, but at the same time, it just didn’t say enough. I’d also argue that PewDeePie was focused on too heavily, even going so far as to be the deus ex machina of the episode, doing away with CartmanBrah and also restoring the natural order of things (in what basically amounted to a whole lot of misdirection where it seemed like Mr. Hankey would be making an appearance, though that was the whole point, don’t rehash old shit, right?). Sure, it made sense (even if Kyle and Stan didn’t really think so) but if you’re going to make a point about how it’s all a bit of nonsense, at least make that nonsense funny. Monty Python were kings of this, and Trey and Matt are usually on-point too. It just didn’t work that well here.

And that’s okay. This was a stellar season, with a great overarching storyline, and some really funny bits. These guys still got it. And I think, much like the midseason finale where Stan realizes he’s getting old, Trey and Matt are still realizing that they can still have it, while also not getting it. To quote Stan from an earlier episode: “I get it: I don’t get it”. That’s exactly the sentiment the boys, feeling old, appropriately sitting on a park bench, muse: maybe it’s okay that we don’t understand things. And maybe each generation can have its own personality. After all, I have grown up with South Park. And if you look back at the earlier episodes that merely consisted of sound bites and fart humor, you’d think, how could those kids think this was funny?

So what was funny, you ask? The Bill Cosby and Taylor Swift rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, in light of his allegations, and how damn creepy that song is, was a nice shot of dark humor. The constant tweets, that started to turn quite meta after awhile during the Christmas special, were great. I’d love to go back and read them individually. The cops thinking every line about a black person was the setup to a joke was good, but the whole “shoot him or choke him” stuff was a bit on-the-nose. Yeah, that’s the point, but meh. It made me laugh, but it was a bit of a cheap laugh, you know? Like saying “yeah, he’s dumb!” when someone does something dumb. I don’t know. Felt like it belonged in another episode, but current events dictated that it must be mentioned, so here we are.

I also personally loved the toddlers’ reactions to Stan and Kyle, and their lines were delivered with such caustic naivety that it was adorably brutal and hilarious. There was surely other funny stuff, but what resonated with me most was the message: let’s just let things be. Let kids be kids, let us be confused, and let’s be comfortable with the fact that, yes, we are getting old. And like Stan discovered, the only way to deal with that realization is to drink heavy amounts of whiskey. And, as I turn 30, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

Episode Review Grade: C

Season Review Grade: B+

A great season, marred by a rushed finale. But boy am I glad to have South Park in my life for at least the next couple years. Cheers, boys, for keeping up the quality, and for being resonant. This whiskey’s on me.