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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

South Park: About Last Night

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So, after weeks of grumbling that its writers were ignoring all that ripe, low-hanging social commentary fruit in favor of plucking more warmed-over movie parodies, South Park finally gets topical, and the result is… another warmed-over movie parody. But you know what? I don't care. Considering everybody from Saturday Night Live to every joker armed with iMovie has had their own "satirical take" on this so-glad-it's-over election, I'm surprisingly okay with a little inconsequential silliness on this most "whatever, dude" of days. Maybe it's just the residual giddiness talking, but I think I've actually kind of had it with trenchant observations, at least for the time being. I feel like I've been gnashing my teeth over CNN.com comments and watching "Palin gaffe" clips for fucking months upon months, and right now I wouldn't mind just basking in my short-lived optimism, and rejoicing in the idea that (as my wife said last night) "the good guys finally won."

I just wish tonight's inconsequential silliness had been a little funnier across the board. For once, the B-story was easily the best part of the episode, examining the different ways everybody in town reacts to the outcome: First, the McCain supporters–including Butters' parents, Principal Victoria, Mr. Mackey, and self-loathing gay Mr. Garrison–hunker in a makeshift shelter and prepare for the end of the world, while others take the easy way out by committing suicide. Clearly this was one of them there exaggerations for humorous effect, but you know, judging by some of the stricken faces I saw during McCain's concession speech–and of course, the ever-reliable e-mails from my dear old grandpa, who's one of those people you always hear about who genuinely believes that Obama is a secret terrorist who flew in his thousand-strong Kenyan family a month before the election and registered them all under false names so he could win by voter fraud and then force men to marry each other while he amuses himself on weekends by personally ripping out unborn babies with his teeth–there probably are plenty of folks out there who are panicking and feeling like the country they used to have such a tight, suffocating grip on is now slipping through their gnarled fingers. (Ahem.)

And then, of course, there's Randy Marsh who–in a not-so-exaggerated take–uses this historic occasion as an opportunity to party his pants off, get piss drunk in the streets with the other Obamaniacs, flip a cop car, and tell his boss to go fuck himself because "everything's changed." (I admit I only skimmed it, but I think this pretty much sums up Kyle Ryan's election night experience.)

That's the kind of centrist, "everybody's stupid" read I've come to expect (and have always enjoyed) from those ideology-hating Libertarians at South Park, and I probably would have rated this episode higher had it been solely about the sort of outlandishly extremist views this campaign brought out in everybody. Instead, the A-story was a more-or-less straightforward Ocean's 11 spoof: It turns out that Obama and McCain are part of an elite group of thieves who hatched the entire election more than 10 years ago, then they ramped up the negativity to divide the populace in order to distract everyone long enough that Obama's team could steal the Hope Diamond. Even Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin were in on it: Palin's actually some sort of hyper-articulate electronics expert with a snippy British accent and a penchant for formfitting catsuits, while Michelle was only pretending to be married to Barack in order to get her cut. (Not sure where Joe Biden fits into all this, but my suspicion is that Scranton, Pennsylvania doesn't actually exist.)

After a ridiculously elaborate heist involving a secret presidential escape tunnel, some highly sensitive lasers, McCain in a football uniform, Obama's grandmother (who faked her death just so she could make a bomb threat), a staged plane crash, and even a last-minute reveal that baby Ike was in on everything from the beginning, the team makes off with their quarry, only to find Obama deciding he'd rather settle down with Michelle instead and "give this President thing a shot." All in all, a painfully faithful adherence to Ocean's 11–which is to say needlessly complex and annoyingly slick, but that was obviously the point. Still not that funny. I kept wishing they would just get back to Randy already. Now that was some change I could have believed in! TRENCHANT ZING!

Grade B-

- I know they have a remarkably quick turnaround on these episodes–and clearly Obama's and McCain's speeches were added last minute–but how much of this do you think they did in advance under the assumption that McCain would lose? A lot of fans on IMDB seem to think there's probably a "McCain version" out there, but I don't buy it.

- I loved that Cartman was out looting TVs, but I'm always disappointed when he gets left out of an episode.

- That drum-and-bass playing as Obama walked–I hear that every time.

- "Everything is gonna be awesome now!"