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Thursday, November 17, 2011

South Park picks on "The Poor Kid"

     Comedy Central's South Park caps off season fifteen with "The Poor Kid." A meth lab is discovered behind Kenny's (Matt Stone) house, so his parents are arrested, and Kenny and his siblings are taken to foster care. With Kenny out of the school, Cartman (Trey Parker) eagerly searches for who is now the poorest kid, so he can pick on them. Too bad for Cartman, it's himself. Angry at his mom for the humiliation, Cartman gets himself sent to foster care, and despite thinking he can get sent to Hawaii if he asks, winds up in the home with Kenny. Luckily, Mysterion arrives to expose the bad Agnostic foster parents, and Kenny and Cartman get to go home.

     Cartman picks on everyone. That's his thing. If Kenny wasn't poor, Cartman would find some reason to single him out. Because of that, Cartman is bound to end up as the subject of one of his discriminations sooner or later. But "poor" comes as a surprise. While Cartman's mom (April Stewart) doesn't buy Cartman everything he wants, he seems to live pretty comfortably. Perhaps she still has some savings from her wild days, when she made pornos and things. Considering that Cartman's criteria for poor is based solely on current income, and setting aside that there is no way for him to easily find those figures, her savings could be excluded. Maybe the house is even paid off, taking some of the burden away. Though, Mrs. Cartman does say she is working two jobs, which still makes it seem like she shouldn't be the lowest earner in the entire school.

     The title "The Poor Kid" could also refer to poor Eric Cartman, forced to suffer through the humiliation of being the most economically disadvantaged kid in school. Never mind that he has a mother who loves him and takes good care of him. The selfish child is worried only about his own image, and assumes that everyone is as mean as he is. Most kids aren't, of course, and so Cartman is left making fun of himself. It seems he just can't shake the habit of making poor jokes.

     Kenny is the South Park character that deserves sympathy. Repeatedly killed, and forced to live in a shabby, rundown dwelling, he keeps his dignity. He is also likely Mysterion, or so it appears in "The Poor Kid," comforting his scared little sister, Karen. If anyone deserves bad things to happen to him, it's not Kenny. Hasn't he suffered enough? Though, still funny when a giant turkey eats him at the end of the episode.

     South Park tries to fairly go after every religion and group, so as not to be discriminatory. It's finally the Agnostics' turn this week. The foster parents Kenny and Cartman are sent to are very strict Agnostics, that force their foster children to say "I don't know" to any question of belief. It's funny to see a group that typically doesn't take a hard stand be so full of conviction on their position. Thus, South Park has probably gotten around to every religion now, the set satisfyingly complete.

     South Park has just been renewed through 2016, so fans will get at least five more years of the series. It will return with new episodes next spring.

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