South Park: “The City Part of Town” Season 19 Episode 3 Review

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There’s a renewed sense of focus in season 19 thus far. “The City Part of Town” was another episode that used continuity in its favor. Even so, the episode’s themes aren’t too distant from the ideas the first two episodes put down. Is this a South Park season with a plan?

As Mr. Garrison trumps his way down the campaign trail, his hometown caught a lot of flack from Jimmy Fallon for being a hick town. With everyone down in the dumps, the adults eventually work their way up the list of ideas to gentrification (which, in their minds, means having a Whole Foods in town). Suddenly, Kenny’s house is surrounded by trendy bars with rooftops and outdoor seatings. But all the new-wave fusion restaurants are taking away from one of South Park’s previously top-tier establishments, City Wok.

Unlike most episodes in recent seasons, “The City Part of Town” slowly built up these different, but at least related parts of the episode before a unified conclusion wrapped everything up really well. South Park too frequently repeats the same joke over and over again until the climax, when shit literally goes bananas. But this episode felt like the earlier, more carefully made entires in the series. It certainly wasn’t as funny, but it was very smart.

To get a Whole Foods representative to come to town, they keep surrounding Kenny’s house with hyper-modern apartment complexes and exuberant fountains. Meanwhile, Kenny goes to work for Tuong Lu Kim, who’s using cheap child labor to stay open in what is not the bad end of town.

The use of live-action commercials to go with the heightened satire of gentrification laced in the voiceovers was effective, but may have worn out its welcome by the fourth time. This episode was almost completely devoid of belly laughs, instead going for cleverness, which it did achieve. Still, the best episodes of South Park always found a way to work in both.

The episode ends with the town-reputation-motivated adults getting in a giant street brawl with Kim’s labor force. This is when the Whole Foods representative just gives in due to the town’s drive and erects a new supermarket right behind City Wok. It’s rare for South Park to reward its characters like this, but in a season that is so far a much stronger attempt at continuity than season 18, this new hip store could lead to something next week. It’s weird to say that South Park might be building to something, but with linked themes in each episode and events actually seeming to matter, this is a very exciting time to have stuck by the show for so long. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Kim’s whole rant about how outdated he is calls back to the season premiere. Though this short scene felt more confident than that whole episode. South Park, by some miracle, gets to have its cake and eat it too.
  • Kenny buying his sister a doll with the money he made at City Wok was uncharacteristically heart-warming, and still managed to feel like it belonged. Well done.
  • In the episode’s final commercial, which is for Whole Foods, there are hipsters riding bikes in the aisles. As someone who lives very close to the giant Whole Foods in Brooklyn, this small detail is so on-point.
  • City Wok is of course across the street from a Red Lobster, the franchise every reasonable American disowned first.

By Matt Dougherty

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