South Park: “Moss Piglets” Season 21 Episode 8 Review

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What do Heidi gaining weight, a special ed. science fair, and declining viewership of the NFL have to do with each other? The answer can be found in a pair of South Park episodes from over ten years ago: season ten’s “Cartoon Wars” two-parter. In it, this show’s writers effectively obliterate Family Guy‘s non sequitur joker delivery system, claiming that manatees choose all the aspects of a Family Guy joke by swimming toward and bobbing labeled balls in their tank that, when combined, supposedly make a joke (South Park‘s point was that this is an incredibly lazy way to try and get audience laughs).

But eleven seasons later, here we are, with manatees being called upon to write all of “Moss Piglets,” another below-average entry in a season that could prove detrimental to the show’s future. What’s a shame is that the very separate ideas of this episode could really work independently. Heidi being corrupted, forcing Cartman to date a female version of himself? Interesting. The treat of a Nathan and Mimsy led episode? Very welcome. A commentary on how the NFL might recover from the controversy surrounding it this season? Go for it! Uniting the latter two is a microorganism known as the water bear, a connection that is neither funny nor with a semblance of logic.

Meanwhile, this new Cartman-infused version of Heidi doesn’t really lead to any of the sharp moments it should have, especially because her own feelings toward Cartman seem to change at the drop of a hat. If South Park is to take another legitimate stab at continuity again, it needs to make sure the character growth is in tune with what’s come before. At the end of “Doubling Down,” sure, it seems Heidi might be absorbing some of Cartman’s more bigoted qualities, but that didn’t at all inform her becoming a flat slob like him, and losing every ounce of her sunny positivity. Having her be the opposite of Cartman is most of their coupling’s appeal, yet for some reason, South Park keeps trying to mess with one of the few good things they have going for them this season.

“Moss Piglets” feels like an episode where the writers just didn’t have any cohesive ideas to throw together in the short amount of time they had to put the episode together. But with so much going on in the news that is incredibly ripe for parody, South Park ignoring them for a half-assed riff on the NFL losing viewership is just another missed opportunity. The show pick the absolute worst year to lose its political edge. Grade: C-

By Matt Dougherty

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