“PC is back and it’s bigger than ever”
South Park is back! And it’s about the same size as it was in the last series. By it’s very nature, South Park is a hit and miss show. When it’s good, it’s very good, but quite often it loses its way. When it clamps its claw on a topic and clings on for dear life, that’s when it is at its best. Often, however, the humour/potty jokes can interfere with the story. This wasn’t the case with ‘Stunning and Brave.’ However, it was an uneven start to the series, however. It raised only a few belly laughs. I smiled, even tittered on occasion, and I felt myself forced to laugh out loud once or twice. The lack of laughs, combined with a confusing message about political correctness, made this episode a hard one to enjoy.
Sure, Principal PC was funny at the beginning. “I’m here because this place is stuck in a time-warp,” he says in a spot-on jibe at South Park (seriously, does no one ever age in South Park? Or The Simpsons?). He means that South Park is extremely un-PC, e.g. the white man pretending he’s a Chinese man who built a wall to stop Mongolians invading his restaurant. Principal PC’s highlight was his rant about Kyle’s lack of respect for Caitlyn Kenner. Kyle doesn’t think Caitlyn Jenner is a hero (in fact, later on he goes on to say that he didn’t like Bruce Jenner when he was in The Kardashians). PC’s response is the funniest part of the episode.
“We are bigots”
However, PC and his PC Bros quickly outstayed their welcome, repeating the same jokes about political correctness that PC had run through at the beginning of the episode. Randy saved them with his sub-plot of joining the PC Frat (and repeating their phrases whilst hungover), but it became a flogged dead horse too quickly. It peaked with PC’s brutal beatdown of Cartman for Cartman’s use of stereotypes. Yes, we understand, proponents of PC can use violence in their pursuit of tolerance and understanding…but that’s as far as the joke went. Even the PC crossover with the fraternity element failed to extend the joke much further.
Maybe it was just me, but I expected a more scathing criticism of the entire Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner scenario. Come on, it was easy! There’s no reason for the mass media focus on her transformation, is there? He became a woman: good for him/her! Plenty of other men and women have done it…so what’s the fuss? It felt like the writers were holding back on a full scale assault on the whole situation, which was a missed opportunity. Even Cartman’s belief that he needs to act like Tom Brady felt half-hearted, and merely an attempt to namecheck a famous person and his problems rather than satirize them (well, apart from the cracking dream sequence).
All in all, ‘Stunning and Brave’ felt like a missed opportunity. At the end, when Cartman sent in Syrian migrants, Chinese drivers, and pregnant Mexican women into the frat house, it felt like a metaphor: the writers had to throw everything they could at the screen to make it entertaining. But it wasn’t entertaining, or even funny. The writers tried to have their cake and eat it by showing us the two sides of political correctness, but it didn’t show us anything new at all. Are the writers so constrained by political correctness that they can’t say anything overly critical about it?
VERDICT: 4/10. ‘Stunning and Brave’ failed to say anything stunning or brave about the theme of PC, the Jenner situation, or anything at all…
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