South Park kicked off its 18th season with a timely satire of the NFL, the general weirdness of Silicon Valley start-ups, and the inherent laziness of Kickstarter projects. It stumbled a bit to start, but eventually picked up to be an entertaining season opener for Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and company.
Cartman and the usual crew start the episode trying to figure out a name for their start-up and run into the universal problem of the internet – every name is taken. They run through every vulgar and seemingly random combination they can think of until eventually landing on “Furry Balls Plopped Menacingly On The Table, Inc.” and launching their Kickstarter. Like most Kickstarters, it does absolutely nothing but quickly gets a few backers.Not long after their initial launch, Cartman realizes that the Washington Redskins’ trademark was revoked (referencing a court ruling from last month that declared the Redskins can’t stop anyone from using the name as they don’t technically own it), so they decided to use it as their start-up name.
It was a quick-and-dirty way to get into the meat of the episode’s plot and went on for a bit too long for my taste, but it worked well enough even if it wasn’t particular funny.
The overall satire of the NFL and Washington Redskins’ attitude towards their own faults – the player behavioral problems of the NFL and the Redskins flippantly using a racist and harmful name to Native Americans – was pretty on point. Everything from implying that Roger Goodell is a robot and the idea that he is “bought” by NFL owners was fired at. The episode even used real audio clips from Goodell’s series of non-answers and deflecting responses during his press conference regarding the Ray Rice controversy.
Great parallels are also drawn between the Redskin’s team and the Native Americans that they constantly ignore and there’s even a short sequence showing Dan Snyder as the crying Native American when he eventually breaks down and can’t handle Cartman using his team’s name anymore. It’s not too in your face, but it’s funny to anyone who would get what they’re referencing. If any major TV show can essentially use an old ad for littering that’s turned into a meme as a joke and not have it feel forced, it’s South Park.
The focus was definitely aimed squarely at the Redskins and their name usage, but there were also some small references to the NFL’s current troubles with player behavioral issues. I get the feeling they’ve had this one written for a while and just shoe-horned in those references at the last second though. They feel out of place and put in just because they felt like they had to.
Half way through the episode, South Park’s edge was turned on Apple for a brief time as it perfectly parodied a product announcement by the tech giant. Accurately mimicking the cadence of a typical Apple presenter, Cartman revealed that his start-up planned on doing absolutely nothing and raking in money because they could, taking more balatant (and hilariously accurate) shots at lazy Kickstarter projects. Also revealed was the fact fact that the kid’s start-up agreed to change their “offensive” logo so that it would no longer offend the Washington Redskins. How you ask? By adding genitalia to the logo of course.
There didn’t seem to be any direct references to the iPhone 6 announcement which feels like a missed opportunity but the sequence severed the episode and was done very well.
It really didn’t make sense or add to anything in the episode, but at one point Stan and Kyle don’t agree with Cartman’s use of the Redskins name and split off to go back to Furry Balls Plopped Menacingly On The Table, Inc. Shortly after doing so, a feud between the now split group starts when Kickstarter’s servers get burned down and neither side is able to access their loads of money earned from doing absolutely nothing. You know, like most Kickstarter projects. After deciding that neither side is at fault of taking down each other’s Kickstarter page, the two agree to a merger leading to an even more vulgar logo to emphasize their new catchphrase “Go Fund Yourself.” I’ll let you fill in why that’s funny yourself.
As on point as all the social commentary was, as always, there weren’t really many great jokes in this inaugural episode. This is definitely going to be the focal point of social media and water cooler conversations over the next couple days, but nothing that will really stick around for long. That said, it’s far from a bad episode and did a good enough job of kicking off the season.
This has nothing to do with my rating, but it really showed the show’s flexibility in how, in all the promotion clips, Redskin’s quarterback Robert Griffin III is showed in scenes with the team’s owner and Cartman but it is eventually changed to Kirk Cousins in the actual episode to reflect the fact that Griffin III was injured. It never ceases to amaze me just now flexible and quick to react South Park is. Just wanted to point that neat little tidbit out in case you missed it.