This week’s episode of South Park, “Reverse Cowgirl”, stays true to the show’s core theme: Toilet humor… for real.
Clyde Donovan apparently has a habit of leaving the toilet seat up at home. His mother, Betsy, unabashedly yells at him in front of his friends and even barges into his classroom one day. Cartman finds this hilarious and tells everyone. But humor soon turns to tragedy as Clyde forgets one last fatal time and his mother falls into the toilet, stuck. Unfortunately, there is no way to get her out without killing her. Because once they shut off the valve, the air pressure will cause her intestines to be sucked out her asshole into the pipes. They go through with it, and with one last breath Betsy makes Clyde promise never to leave the seat up again.
The TSA (Toilet Safety Administration) immediately steps in to solve this nationwide catastrophe. Every bathroom in the country is now equipped with state-of-the-art security technology and staff resembling the real TSA – that is: some black women, an overweight white man, a flashlight, security camera, and metal detector. Each toilet is also fastened with seat belts, of course. The security cameras are monitored by one man in a remote location, armed with a bottle of lotion and his penis.
The entire town of South Park is in an uproar as the women continuously insist men should just put the seat down after they are finished, and the men insist women need only take a second to check before they sit. Meanwhile, Stan, Kyle, Clyde, and Jimmy seek legal recourse for the death of Clyde’s mother. They find a lawyer who claims he can sue the late inventor of the toilet, John Harrington, by performing a “sueance.” It’s obviously B.S. but he takes their money anyway, claiming “injunctions” were made and they will have to pay more for a 2nd session.
Cartman, who has been rallying against the TSA for taking away our most private moment of American freedom, decides he has had enough. And when Cartman feels things have gone too far, that’s a pretty bold statement. He drags a tied up TSA agent, a baby, and a gun in front of his security camera and spray paints the lens. A security breach is announced, and the town reacts by attempting to contact John Harrington with a public sueance. The ghost of Clyde’s mother appears telling Clyde that the lawyer is fake, but men are still at fault for leaving the seat up. Then the ghost of John Harrington shows up explaining that everyone has been sitting on his invention the wrong way. We are supposed to sit the other direction, allowing use for the convenient “table” in front to put our reading materials.
Eventually Clyde uses the toilet in this new manner, but puts the seat back up, looks into the sky, and flips off his dead mom.
South Park is certainly known for combining entirely unrelated social constructs into brilliantly blended satirical plots. Unfortunately, this episode falls slightly short of making a solid connection between the two main elements, toilets and the TSA. Maybe it would be easier to say that it’s just a shitty job. What almost redeems it, however, are the details. The TSA agents are depicted as highly incompetent, uneducated, intrusive, and inappropriate government employees. As always, it feels good to watch Trey Parker and Matt Stone stick it to the man. Especially when that man is known for touching your junk every time you fly. There is no shortage of feces-related death and violence here, so we can enjoy that.
South Park rarely disappoints, and this episode isn’t a total loss. The idea of a TSA-like entity responding to a death-by-flushing incident is chuckle-worthy, but ultimately asks the audience to bend their funny bone a little too much as the show drags on through these “sueances” and more town rallies.
It seems that Matt and Trey have nailed down a do-it-yourself recipe when they don’t want to put any effort towards an episode: mix 2 contemporary issues (toilet etiquette and the TSA), 1 random character to move the plot (fraud lawyer), and let the townspeople rally over and over. Throw it in the oven for about 6 days and you’ve got another half-baked South Park Wednesday.
South Park’s track record in recent season’s has been generally favorable, though. So as always, I’ll look forward to next week.