South Park: “Truth and Advertising” Season 19 Episode 9 Review

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“Truth and Advertising” was mostly setup for next week’s assuredly epic finale. But what’s most surprising about this setup is how engaging it is, not as simply a comedy, but a twisted sci-fi cautionary tale. By exposing a truth about advertising people don’t necessarily think about very often and borrowing some narrative beats from Ex Machina, this episode didn’t have to be all that funny to be good.

The laughs are actually few and far between in “Truth and Advertising.” It makes sense, there’s kind of a lot of story to cover. The Jimmy and Leslie portion of the story was particularly devoid of humor, but it was also legitimately interesting. Sure, the opening history-of-advertising montage definitely drew a chuckle for how ridiculous and sort of true it was, and then the newsmen talking to each other as if they were on the air got me a few times. But this was mostly about Leslie’s existence and what it means for the world.

Meanwhile, Mr. Garrison, Principal Victoria, and Caitlyn Jenner sneak into South Park to find PC Principal, who has gone missing. What they do find is Randy, who they coerce into helping them investigate. The best recurring gag here is Caitlyn continuously killing pedestrians with her car (which, reminder, actually happened). But again, this story is much more about putting the pieces in place for next week’s finale than anything else.

The same goes for the third major plot thread of the episode, which has Stan and Kyle at each others’ throats thinking the other is holding the investigation back. There is some actual narrative weight to these two best friends fighting, even while Cartman makes his comments. How South Park will weave this plot and the rest together next week should be fascinating to watch.

So, for what it was, “Truth and Advertising” gets the job of setting up the finale done as smartly as this show can (which is pretty smart). The fact that South Park has me interested in the actual outcome of this season’s storyline is an accomplishment all on its own. Now, it’s just up to them to deliver on that promise. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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