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Thursday, March 15, 2012

South Park does 'Reverse Cowgirl'

Comedy Central's South Park begins its sixteenth season last night with "Reverse Cowgirl." Clyde's (Trey Parker) mother is killed after Clyde leaves the toilet seat up. The men and women of South Park bicker over whose job it is to make sure that the toilet seat is down. The TSA comes to town and begins regulating all bathroom usage to prevent another such occurrence. Upset, Clyde goes with his friends to meet an attorney, who suggests holding a "sue-ance" to sue the spirit of the inventor of the toilet, who died in the 17th century. Surprisingly, his spirit does appear, and sets the residents straight on the issue.

While South Park is often known for tackling current events or contentious societal issues, it's the smaller, simpler episodes, dealing with the trivial that often hold up best over time. The matter of whether men should put the toilet seat up or down falls into the latter category. It's a universal battle that everyone can relate to, but the fact of the matter is, it really doesn't matter all that much. Which is why South Park blows it way out of proportion in "Reverse Cowgirl," making a story that fills half an hour.

Of course, South Park can't resist throwing in a second part to this tale, merging an age old debate with something on people's minds nowadays: the overreach of the TSA. While the letters stand for something different in "Reverse Cowgirl" than they do in reality, and this fictional TSA's actions seem over the top in the face of such a minor infraction, it's meant to shine a light on the real TSA's airport security procedures. How much is too much? South Park may not take a political stance overtly, but it's clear that they think the TSA needs to be toned down. And who can blame them? However, in dealing with humor at the expense of a factual argument, it becomes an amusing side story, rather than a real discussion or biting satire.

South Park is primarily a comedy, and "Reverse Cowgirl" has its share of funny moments. Butters (Matt Stone) insists on sitting on the toilet backwards, which leads to the episode's title, and though lampooned by his neighbors, his theory is backed up by the spirit of the inventor. Cartman (Parker) gossips shamelessly on the phone while eating candy and clipping his nails, telling exaggerated stories to those who were present for the events. Randy (Parker) is given a ticket for not wearing a seat belt in the bathroom of his own home. These are all very humorous, and make "Reverse Cowgirl" a winner.

"Reverse Cowgirl" may not go down as one of the best South Park episodes of all time, but a fan would be hard-pressed to say it wasn't good. It's a serviceable entry in the library of episodes, and one that did the job it is supposed to do.

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