Hey, everyone, it’s the other gibbering half of this weekly exercise in South Park schizophrenia. I know Josh suggested last week that we start off by elucidating which episodes we tend to enjoy, so you can decide up front whether you’re going to be super fucking pissed or just mildly indignant about our opinions, but I’ve honestly forgotten which side of this mythical divide I’m supposed to be on, so let’s just skip to the recapping, shall we?
One thing I do enjoy is a good Butters episode—specifically the classic “Butters’ Very Own Episode,” but really, any story that makes use of the juxtaposition of Butters’ guileless, singsong personality and the harsh and ugly reality of human existence is a winner. The best thing about Butters as a character is he’s the closest the show has to a genuine child; despite all the deep, dark shit he’s been through, Butters skips lightly through a land of make-believe—and even when that make-believe tries to kill him, he’ll always come tra-la-la-ing out of the wreckage. Granted, the creators have already wrung plenty of laughs out of the clash between Butters’ unassailable wholesomeness and the awful ways everyone around him manages to exploit it, but for me, at least, it’s still funny to find new ways to take a dump on the happy-go-lucky kid.
That said, putting Butters into the grimy world of pimps and hos was at best a passably amusing way to spend 22 minutes, and its success depends mightily on how funny you find it to hear words like “bitch” and “motherfucker” come out of his mouth. (Which, eh, the whole “Butters does gangsta speak” thing was done better when he was toting Biggie Smalls’ pissed-off ghost around California.) As such, it was basically one note held for the run of the ep, in service of a pretty simple little story without many surprises: Butters pays a girl to kiss him so he can become a man, realizes he could help her parlay this into a genuine business, and launches his own prostitution ring—or “kissing company”—which he runs Butters-style, with stickers of smiley suns and storm clouds replacing pimp-slaps and… well, whatever pimps give their hos when they’ve made them happy. (Heroin? Penicillin?)
Anyway, you get the idea. Butters vacillates between running his kissing company like it’s just another game and, after a little counseling from some more seasoned colleagues at the Playas Ball, running it like The Game, including telling Wendy she should put her mouth to work making some motherfucking money. There’s also a brief hint that Butters’ new attitude might result in some sort of cathartic conflict with the core foursome of Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman, but this never really develops—outside of a brief confrontation with Kyle, anyway, where Butters points out that all men pay for “kisses” in one way or another, whether it's five bucks or five hours of listening to their woman’s motherfucking problems. (Which probably would have been a much funnier observation, were it not a familiar joke from the Tucker Max/Eric Schaeffer/every douchenozzle’s blog ever school of comedy.)
Meanwhile, in the similarly repetitious B-story, the local cops get wind of the new prostitution ring in town, and the lieutenant decides the best way to sniff it out is to send someone undercover—namely himself in an unconvincing wig and fishnets. The gag here was that the lieutenant lets his sting operations drag on way longer than they need to, usually until well after his john has climaxed. Watching these set-ups get increasingly demeaning was a little obvious, albeit sort-of funny—and it goes without saying that South Park is one of the few shows on TV that could pull off a “farting semen collected from a gang-bang into a plastic bag” joke and not have it seem completely gratuitous. (Though I’ve heard good things about Modern Family.)
And actually, the way the two plots met at the end—with the lieutenant being whisked away to a charming Swiss chateau by his former pimp, and in the process reminding Butters about the importance of true love when it comes to putting your motherfucking mouth to work—was a fairly clever way to let both stories end on their own terms, without, say, a more predictable interference from Butters’ parents. But again, it was basically one note, and heavily dependent on how funny you find the idea of a man (even a cartoon one) in women’s clothing—which, really, is as well-worn a comedy trope as making wide-eyed wholesome characters say and do naughty things.
So, it was no “Butters’ Very Own Episode”—and honestly, as a lark about our favorite kids getting mixed up in the world of prostitution, it wasn’t nearly as funny as Jimmy’s date with Nut-Gobbler in “Erection Day.” (It’s also not a good sign that, in the space where I normally jot down memorable quotes, I have nothing outside of, “You wouldn’t believe the time of night some fellas want to kiss.”) All in all, pretty much the definition of “average” for me, bitches.
- Hey, a throwaway ACORN gag. That ought to get the ol’ “Parker and Stone are Republicans” debate moving again.
- It feels like forever since we’ve seen Officer Barbrady do much of anything. Remember when he was seemingly the only cop in town?
- An obvious reference to HBO’s classic Pimps Up, Ho’s Down in the Playas Ball, but I’m pretty sure that outside-the-car shot of the lieutenant calling his john a “nasty fucker” was also lifted from Hookers At The Point—which my wife and I caught some of during our first-ever out-of-town trip together, and thus have a strange nostalgic affection for. So hearing that tonight was kind of like hearing “our song,” which is all kinds of disturbing.