South Park launches its nineteenth season premiere by firing Principal Victoria and hiring a new, more politically correct principal, literally named P.C. Principal. The opening flashes back to some of the inflammatory animated series’s most offensive moments, including the owner of City Wok who hates Mongolians (“Goddamn Mongolians! You TEAH DOWN MY SHITTY WALL!”). As South Park loves to do, the episode devolves into vaguely thought-provoking commentary thanks to Caitlyn Jenner when Kyle calls into question her status as a hero. It’s been years since I’ve watched an episode of South Park. It’s refreshing to know that its heavy-handed sense of humor is still fully in tact.
The running gag of the episode is effectively a statement on the over sensitivity of millennials who have zero tolerance for anything deemed politically incorrect. In the episode, whenever someone says “Caitlyn Jenner,” a frat boy flies around the corner and militantly proclaims her “stunning and brave.” After urging him to stand up to P.C. Principal, Cartman attempts some old school framing and blackmailing by sneaking into the faculty bathroom and attempting to link him to a pair of boys underpants soaked with Principal’s urine. After Cartman says the word “spokesperson” and makes a vague reference to Italians, P.C. Principal beats the shit out of him in a fit of PC rage. Including a subplot about Stan’s father joining a PC frat, the episode somehow culminates in Cartman declaring war on the PC frat boys by orchestrating a siege that includes pregnant Mexican women, tacos, Syrian refugees and their children, and a overly lascivious Jared, formerly of the Subway commercials.
So, with all of that, is the episode funny? Yes and no. Growing up loving such un-PC things as Truly Tasteless Jokes, Porky’s, and pretty much every 80s-era horny teen flick (many of them featuring gross Asian stereotypes looking for “big American breasts”), I did kind of chuckle at the satirization of the humorless millennials. That said, I don’t personally believe the world has become too PC, especially not when social cyberbullying seems to contribute to a new wave of teen suicide. At the end of the episode, Cartman, who I suspect often serves as Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s mouthpiece, claims at the end that talking about non-PC things is good because it starts a dialogue. I suppose ultimately that’s never truer than after this week’s Matt Damon diversity controversy, and, even if the episode feels a bit stale by bringing in Caitlyn Jenner references (which honestly feels so three months ago), it does have a point that sometimes a conversation and personal growth comes from ugly events.