South Park’s overstuffed finale began with the return of PC Principal. You might have thought him to be this season’s villain, but he morphed into a well-meaning bro seeking redemption. How? By making elitist, inhuman ads check their friggin’ privilege:
As alluded to earlier this season, endorsing p.c. culture in this universe means endorsing “verbal gentrification.” That’s South Park’s way of saying, If you push p.c. culture too far, you can, ironically, disenfranchise a group of people: those who wish not to be politically correct — a group that includes those who wish to push the envelope to make a point.
To that end, South Park successfully managed to echo Jerry Seinfeld’s warning of abusive p.c. culture, while still pushing things. The episode’s most absurd moment came with its centerpiece, a timely Best in Show riff on guns that lampooned America’s unhealthy firearm fetish:
The showdown also finally unearthed the conspiracy (and other p.c.-centric message) at the heart of South Park’s 19th season: PC Principal, along with p.c. culture, had been a tool for sentient ads to shepherd sheeple and void the human race. This idea of creative manipulation became South Park’s vehicle for critiquing the way ads, journalism, digital media, and big companies (represented here by Whole Foods) can feed the PR hype machine.
As Nathan explained, if you keep your head down and play your part as consumer or cog for the Man, you can temporarily attain the paradise ads perpetuate. The fine print: You’ll become trapped in a downward spiral as a thoughtless, debt-riddled slave, out of touch with “the truth” and ultimately priced out of any meaningful existence:
All this made for a 30-minute episode that, while funny and thoughtful, also felt rushed and disjunctive in tying up all the loose ends. Because, although Leslie The Ad lost, South Park didn’t offer a solution to the systemic flaw it shone its satiric light on. Maybe that’s because it never wanted to. Or maybe, just as the ads’ onslaught has begun, South Park and its newfound dedication to season-long continuity have much more to say on the topics next fall:
Until then, you can watch the whole finale here.