The 22nd season of South Park starts out with a bang, literally, focusing on the recent epidemic of school shootings. Only Trey Parker and Matt Stone can make fun of a pressing issue such as vulnerability of “skewl” safety and make it as funny as this week’s episode, “Dead Kids.” Titling the first episode of the season “Dead Kids” shows that they are not pulling any punches as they set out to roast the current state of America which has plenty to poke fun at. This episode also calls out Black Panther for being a ripoff of The Lion King, which is a rip off of Hamlet and Kimba the White Lion, making it a form of “Insheeption.” These two topics paired together make an interesting combination one that would not be normally be thought of.
South Park taking place in South Park Elementary has the unique advantage of being able to tell the story through the eyes of children. This pays off when discussing the topic of school shootings as the kids aren’t even phased when an active shooter lights up the school. The gang goes on with their math lesson from Mrs. Nelson despite hearing the noises down the hall and SWAT coming into the classroom to secure the perimeter. This points to the current desensitizing effect the multiple occurrences of these events happening through America. Having Butters as the hall monitor with an assault rifle is laughable as he is clearly not comfortable with handling the firearm. This could be referencing the measures some states have gone through by bringing in firearms to combat this problem.
Nearly all of South Park is not focusing on the issue except for Sharon who is complaining the entire episode on why people should care and how could they not care. This juxtaposition shows the current state of the country that is currently fighting the same issue. The town meeting about the topic quickly makes Sharon more enraged as everyone says it’s too complicated and moves on. Randy believes her issues aren’t truly about the incidents but instead related to menopause which enrages Sharon even more. Towards the end of the episode, Stan is shot and Sharon is so desensitized that when her own son is shot she doesn’t even care. (Is Stan the new Kenny?) Randy was the best part of this plot of the episode as him being portrayed as the victim of Sharon’s outbursts and miming the reasoning behind her reactions liked to her cycle.
The B plot in this episode is just Cartman being Cartman and his bigoted attitude towards Token. Cartman fails a test because Token wrote the wrong answers on his test to spite Cartman which quickly spirals into disparaging Black Panther. Cartman who believes the whole African-American community saw the film because it was a cultural event doesn’t believe Token didn’t see the film. This side plot acted as nothing more than Cartman showing his character is back to being the worst person we love and show Black Panther was vastly overrated. There is nothing wrong with a simple plot but not moving the episode further made this episode drag as it was highly repetitive.
While this episode had an interesting premise with it being a trending issue in the country this episode stalls at points due to its highly repetitive nature. At Season 22 it seems that the show is just going through the motion with different things going on in the background. However, it could be that I have become desensitized myself and at this point of a long-running series, it would take a major shakeup like the one in the 20th season to grab my attention. Despite the #CancelSouthPark being promoted by the show I highly doubt this show will be ending anytime soon as this country becomes crazier and crazier providing material for the writers.