South Park: “Not Funny” Season 20 Episode 9 Review

Photo Credit:http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s20e09-not-funny

There’s truth in comedy. There’s always been truth in South Park. But what about when our truth is horrifying? Look, the likelihood of a major foreign crisis beguiling the nation to the brink of nuclear war is highly unlikely based on the where the world is at right now. But if we somehow get there in the next four years, the military meetings with our Commander in Chief might not look all that different from what was on display the in the aptly named “Not Funny.”

The whole concept of this season is hilarious right now. Denmark is going to release every human being’s Internet history. South Park‘s Trump surrogate, Mr. Garrison, is ready to “bomb the shit out of them,” a phrase taken directly from the actual Trump’s mouth, after a phone call from Mr. Slave that mostly entails the Garrison’s former lover egging him on and calling him names. Kyle later tries to reverse the crisis with the same tact, calling Mr. Garrison a bunch of nasty names to get him to swiftly change his mind. It’s very cleverly written, and occasionally quite hilarious, at least until you look at the president-elect’s Twitter feed from the last few days and realize that South Park isn’t exaggerating all that much. The self-aware, ironic titling of the episode is brilliant. South Park is a vessel for comedy first and commentary second, but pretty much always both. Now, as Trump’s America looms, any commentary Matt and Trey have to make leans harder on horror than comedy, even if the circumstances in which it’s brought about are hilarious. Even in the weakest of episodes, an appearance by Mr. Slave is going to be worth it. Here, to stay on brand, it’s absolutely necessary, keeping us very much in South Park‘s world and not our own.

Besides this layered stroke of genius, “Not Funny” also lives up to its title in more disappointing ways when it comes to the season’s other subplots. Gerald’s storyline continues to flounder even as it draws to a close. As he finally starts at least half-sincerely apologizing for his trolling, it’s revealed to him that the leader behind Troll Trace is actually a troll himself, trolling the entire planet to the brink of nuclear war. The reveal is somewhat satisfying, as it ties together a bunch of season 20’s storylines, but Gerald just remains a terrible, completely boring leading man for all of this.

Faring a bit better, Cartman starts to question Heidi’s intelligence. As she stares at equations for Elon Musk, in hopes of finding a quicker way to Mars, Cartman suddenly thinks she can’t do it, which, of course she shouldn’t be able to, she’s in the fourth grade. Listening to Butters get into Cartman’s head, however, was pretty entertaining. The sad result of course ends up being that Cartman is already convinced that Heidi isn’t who he built her up to be when she cracks the equation. It’s just like Cartman to look past this achievement while thinking of himself.

Unfortunately, “Not Funny” sort of just ends out of nowhere, making me wish this was just the first half of a two-part finale. The rest of obviously coming, but we’re cut off abruptly and left dissatisfied. That’s mostly okay for now, as the episode still puts a lot of worthwhile pieces in place for the finale, all while scarily mirroring our disturbing political situation. For that, this was one of the better entries of the season. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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