It’s old people vs. their own cheap jewelry in this weeks episode of South Park, “Cash For Gold”.
Grampa Marvin Marsh gives Stan a Bolo Tie from the J&G Shopping Network that cost him $6,000. Stan wears it to school and immediately gets shit from Cartman. He decides to sell the tie to a Cash For Gold store, but only receives an offer for $15 and the next store offers him less. He tries trading it to a Taco Bell but is told it’s only worth a 6-layer burrito. The boys argue that Taco Bell doesn’t even make a 6-layer burrito, so the cashier ups the offer to a 7-layer burrito.
Meanwhile, Cartman reveals to the boys that he has found a surefire formula that will turn gold into cash. It involves Cash For Gold stores, old people, and home shopping networks. Cartman aims to make bank on this idea, as always.
While watching the shopping network, Stan hears Grampa Marsh order another piece of jewelry on TV. Stan rushes to Grampa’s house for a heartfelt discussion that reveals Grampa really just misses his old dog Patches, but can’t remember anything about her because of his Alzheimers. Grampa is filling the void that his dead dog left with giving grossly overpriced, cheaply made jewelry to his grandchildren.
At this point, as it often happens in South Park, Cartman and the other boys begin operating on the two sides of the same coin. Cartman starts his own venture to capitalize on the exploitation of old lonely people by opening the OPSN (Old People’s Shopping Network). Stan and the other boys seek to solve the root of the problem and head to a factory in India that makes the jewelry.
Cartman discovers he’s being ripped off by the middle man, Cash For Gold stores, when an Asian lady behind the counter uses the same sales lingo he has been using on his own shopping network, “You are fucking me!” So he heads to the factory in India to discuss “cutting out the middle man.”
They all simultaneously uncover a brilliantly run scheme revealed by a charming montage, wherein the factories manufacture the jewelry, ship it to shopping networks, which sell them to old people, who give them to their relatives, who then sell them to the Cash For Gold stores, that bring them to smelting factories, which melt them into into gold bars, and sell them back to the factories in India who make the jewelry out of the gold.
A worker in the factory gives Stan a picture frame, Stan puts a picture of Grampa Marsh’s dead dog Patches in it, and gives it to Grampa Marsh. Grampa Marsh forgets that he even gave Stan the Bolo Tie and tells him that it is “fucking gay as fuck.”
Stan has been calling J&G shopping network telling the host to kill himself and at the end of the episode the elderly viewers are doing the same. The host takes their advice and the episode ends with a bloody slowly-rotating jewelry stand.
Cartman and the other boys travel down either sides of an oft encountered fork in the road in the town of South Park: Cartman takes the greedy ego-filled power-hungry get-rich-quick path and Stan, Kyle, and Kenny attempt to solve whatever problems are threatening society at the moment. They usually end up meeting at the end, and good tends to triumph. It seems that no matter how smart and diabolical Cartman is, he never comes out on top. He’s like a Wile E. Coyote who uses his wits instead of machinery.
In this episode however, Cartman is left mostly hanging. He finds the other boys at the factory in India, and thinks they are there to foil his plan. But once the montage reveals the scheme, Cartman never gets a resolution. In fact, the scheme is never even described to the boys. We see it and then Stan gives the photo to Grampa Marsh. Personally I love when an episode comes full circle, leaving no ends untied. Or at least the untied ends are left for some funny reason. And this doesn’t happen here.
The Cash For Gold scheme is brilliant, though. And the montage is set to an adorable a cappella Fedex-commercial-esque song. I can’t say for certain whether that’s how home shopping networks scam their elderly customers, but South Park generally has a knack for heavy satire of true social injustices. I’ll leave the research and social activism up to you guys on this one.
This episode is full of the hilarity and wit we’ve come to expect after 16 seasons. Cartman is always good for laughs when he’s ripping someone off, his salesman catchphrases never fail to amuse. While it certainly is better than last Wednesday, I’ve still got a bland taste that I can’t seem to shake from this season so far. I’d like Matt and Trey to raise the obscurity back up to levels we’ve seen in the past… more aliens, time travel, and religion maybe? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure yet. Perhaps they are on to something by blowing open the Cash For Gold cartel, but it still feels like they are reaching for content.