TV Review: South Park – ‘Obama Wins!’

jason stives rides a tonton into the sunset…

Shows that heave the kitchen sink at a television audience tend to fall flat as they rarely succeed in putting something together that works both plot wise and entertainment wise. However, if you are going to do so then why not have cable’s most notorious primetime animated series do it. Indeed, last night’s season finale of South Park, fittingly titled “Obama Wins!” did just that but instead of sputtering out of control and losing direction this finale was off right out of the gate and while incredibly absurd worked too damn well to be called nothing short of fantastic.

Ironically enough Trey Parker and Matt Stone did this exact same thing four years ago the night after the election when they broadcasted “About Last Night,” a story that showed the recently elected Barak Obama in cahoots with his running mate John McCain to steal the famous Hope Diamond. It was a clever ruse and South Park has always danced the line with politics never giving you an exact idea of where they stand. They kept this in mind with “Obama Wins!” an episode in which Cartman scams the 2012 election by collecting votes from the key note states that says Obama didn’t win. Now, before anyone gets on a soapbox declaring biasm nothing is ever this simple in South Park and we soon learn that this is an elaborate ploy set up between Obama, the Chinese Government, and Cartman to secure the rights to Star Wars from Disney and to cast Cartman in a role, preferably the son of Luke Skywalker. Once again, the show’s timeliness in catching headlines is on the mark and you can tell this is one they worked on up until the last minute, I mean, they even got the woman with the American flag in hair from Obama’s re election speech!

The timing of both the election and Lucasfilms selling their rights to Disney for 4 billion dollars couldn’t be any better because it sets up the idea of which of these things mattered more to people. As the boys themselves put it, they don’t understand and follow politics, unless it’s narrated by Morgan Freeman. Needless to say Mr. Freeman shows up to assist in explaining the plot and for his merits he gets another freckle on his distinctive facial structure. There are alot of ideas thrown into the mix in “Obama Wins!” and they all are pulled off very well. Because the story is so absurd you would think everything would be a loose end but everything: the return of President Duck (acting as a metaphor for a shit spewing Mitt Romney) the return of the SP version of Mickey Mouse (arriving in the Fett’s Slave 1 no less!) and the Hummer salesman hiding the missing ballots all get their moment to shine. Even the General Tso’s chicken joke played out very well with a nice added twist to knock its obvious overuse.

What really made this story stand out is its a take on an old fashioned thriller and who better to throw in the middle of an idea like that than Cartman and Kyle, two never ending foes that can be turned up to 10 without resorting to immature jokes. Cartman in particular is given some great material to work with and the opening montage of him plane hopping the various swing states was fantastic. It’s hard not to glow about this story and while it may not be the greatest episode of all time it sure as hell does a bang up job of being the best of the season if not one of the best of the past 5 years.

Now I’m well aware that not everyone will agree that this episode was great but it’s hard to argue that it didn’t have some great one liners and imagery. I’m still deciding which image held over the best: Cartman on the back of a Tonton (with baby Ewok in toe) or the AT ST walking the perimeter of the Magic Kingdom. Regardless, this is a prime example of South Park firing on all cylinders and considering that overall quality has varied in the past six years, the show’s ability to stay consistent is still strong. While some may question for weeks what the overall tone was to this episode it was a great way to send off a season that for the most part has stayed strong despite the mediocre episode here and there.

Since I didn’t do reviews for the first half of the season during the spring it’s hard to assume what my thoughts were on the first seven but overall Season 16 ended up being a very spry year for the boys of South Park and after 15 years on the air their ability to craft episodes in a short time combined with their need to just not care about anyone has kept the show fresh. “Obama Wins!” was a highly entertaining episode and while it may not necessarily be in my Top 20 episodes of all time it is definitely one of the best episodes the show has crafted in a long time.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Excellent)

 

All Images Credit: Comedy Central