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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

South Park takes on vape culture in one of its funniest episodes in years

Illustration for article titled South Park takes on vape culture in one of its funniest episodes in years
Image: Comedy Central

Based on history, “Tegridy Farms” had a very good chance of being a great episode. Three of the best shows from South Park’s last ten years are “Butters’ Bottom Bitch,” “Medicinal Fried Chicken,” and “Crack Baby Basketball Association,” and this episode combined elements of all of them. The result was an episode that may actually be better than any of them, and was by a wide margin the best outing of season 22 so far. I’ll be honest, while I appreciate South Park’s earnest social commentaries, as well as their desire to atone for the negative effect the show’s early years might have had on society, ultimately, this show is at its best when it just focuses all of its energy on telling jokes and making fun of shit, which was certainly the case tonight.


Randy is horrified to learn that not only has vaping taken over South Park Elementary, but also that Shelly texted a picture of a dog’s butthole to the recess monitor to avoid being ratted out. Randy goes on a rant about how everything is falling to pieces in our society, and that he wants to live on a farm to get away from it all. This is a familiar premise, but it gets taken to a new dimension when we find out that Randy’s actual reason for wanting to pack up is so that he can he can grow nice, legal weed on a Colorado farm (we get quite a fun little song about this). Randy’s love of weed has brought big laughs in the past, and the same was true tonight. In an amusing bit, he alternates from talking like an old-time farmer, and switching to his normal voice whenever someone brings up vaping (which he refers to as “pussy sticks”). He’s been one of the show’s best characters for years, and he was at his most gloriously ridiculous in “Tegridy Farms.”

Elsewhere, Kyle discovers that Ike has joined in on the vaping craze, as have the rest of the Kindergartners, and is just as shocked and appalled as Randy. He finds out that Butters has been supplying the goods, and that he’s in cahoots with Cartman. Unlike in “Crack Baby Basketball Association,” Kyle at least tries to stick to his guns here, but when Cartman and Butters keep pleading their case about how screwed they are, he eventually gives in, and tries to help. His efforts don’t do much good, though; when he tries to reason with the shop owner who Cartman and Butters owe money to, they take matters into their own hands and place a dead prostitute’s body in front of the store. Where they found it is anyone’s guess, but the scene is so jarring and unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh at how over-the-top it was. Cartman’s done worse things in the past, but the shock factor is certainly still there.

The two plots converge when a vape company offers to buy Randy’s farm, but he refuses, determined to maintain his ‘tegridy (hey, that’s how he spells/pronounces it). Between this and Stan being caught with a vape pen at school (he claims to have taken it from a Kindergartner, but his clear anger at his dad for moving him away from South Park makes me wonder if it was an act of rebellion that the show might explore later on), Randy becomes convinced that Big Vape is coming for everything that he loves and cherishes. He decides to blow up the vape shop just as Kyle, Cartman and Butters are stealing enough vapor to pay off their debts. Randy manages to use Towelie, who had previously shown up as a “purity inspector” (I’m not sure how legit that was), to take down the CEO of the vape company. Vaping is defeated, and Randy goes back to making his Tegridy Weed, meaning we can assume that this will continue to be part of the overall storyline this season. The storytelling really works here; normally, I’d gripe about Randy being there just in time to save the boys, but his motive was clearly established, and it provided a satisfying wrap-up of each conflict.

After last week’s shaky outing, I was beginning to have mixed feelings about season 22, but “Tegridy Farms” featured Trey and Matt back on their game. The shots at both vape culture and weed culture were hilarious, and it was good to see a plot that featured a great Kyle/Cartman/Butters adventure, as well as the welcome return of Randy’s love affair with weed. South Park’s attempts to do Very Serious Commentary on the issues of the day have been hit-and-miss, and while they’ve nailed it sometimes, it was nice to watch an episode where there isn’t really a message other “hey, vaping is pretty dumb, right?” As the season progresses, the show will likely handle weightier issues, and I’m curious to see what their approach will be, but this was a welcome return to the glory days of season 6-8, when South Park was about having a laugh above all else.

Stray Observations:

  • One of my favorite jokes from last season was during the PC Principal/Strong Woman romance, when “Hold My Hand” by Hootie And The Blowfish would start playing whenever they were in the same room. Here, Randy makes a hemp hat that causes “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors to play whenever anyone puts it on. That might have been even funnier.
  • The frequent references to Ronan Farrow make me think he’s going to show up later in the season, likely as part of the Mr. Hankey plot.
  • Weird how even though it was snowy in South Park, there was no snow on Randy’s farm. Was it that far away?
  • Kyle’s deadpan delivery of “you’re such penises” really worked for me for some reason.
  • Last week, Cartman got on Kyle’s case for “defending shit,” and this week, he kind of does the same thing when he agrees to help Cartman and Butters get out of their mess. I wonder if that will be brought up again, or if it will be a theme throughout the season.