South Park S16E03: Faith Hilling

March 30, 2012

TV

Seems like the South Park guys have found their feet after a couple of fairly C+ episodes. This week’s episode, “Faith Hilling” shows off a bunch of their best qualities, and – most satisfyingly – brings everything back to the totally skewed and uncomfortably familiar perspective of Stan and the boys. It also pulls off on a couple of occasions the thing I love most about the show: its ability to completely sidestep your expectations.

Image via Splitsider

The episode kicks off at the Colorado iteration of the Republican Primary debates, where the four (excellently depicted) nominees are spouting some of their most voter-pleasing, thought-free sentences. Everything is set up for a SP-speciality political statement on the fitness of any of these four men for government. Stan is seated in the crowd, co-ordinating with the other boys to get an iPhone in his hands and Cartman on stage, where he pulls his shirt out to look like breasts, aka “Faith Hilling.” Sorry folks, this episode is silly as heck.

The boys read the paper the next day, only to find their memeing exploits are “so 2000-late” and have been dismissed by Newt Gingrich thusly: “Faith Hilling is pretty stale. If they’d have crashed the Republican Debate by Taylor Swifting, that would have been impressive.” Cue a potted history of memeing, hosted by a PSA video about Planking, Tebowing and Owling, all with fatal consequences. Butters is, of course, the only one phased by any of it. Stan and Kenny try to keep up with the new, advanced memes, while Kyle and Cartman try to keep the Faith Hill flag flying outside the Planned Parenthood clinic. This is followed by a sequence that proves South Park is easily the best show on TV for making you giggle at stuff you know is kind of hateful. Watch it, you’ll know what I mean.

MEANWHILE scientists are concerned that cats are evolving because of their new-found ability to create their own memes, like bread-cats and Oh Long Johnson cat, their natural leader. MEANWHILE MEANWHILE the meme craze gets completely out of hand as a new craze called ‘Reporting’ happens, which is when you stand beside a noteworthy thing and talk about the danger of memes. It is a beautiful mix of the absolutely stupid with (on a second look) rather sharp criticism.

Finally, Cartman performs the latest meme outside the French café that has hosted all the other ones before it – notable that no one sitting in the café gives a rat’s ass about what the new meme is – involving Taylor Swifting while Cat Breading and Reporting. A decision is made and I can’t quite remember the logical step that led to this point but at the next Colorado Republican Debate Ron Paul has been replaced by Oh Long Johnson cat, and all the candidates start talking at once, a new meme called ‘Pandering’. Meow.

Anyhow, Cartman gets on stage, ready to try out his new meme again, then stops midway through. In the second brilliant switcheroo of the night he decides that pulling his pants down on tv is pretty dumb, we expect a heartfelt comment on the ephemeral nature of internet fads and politics similar to the steroids/professional sports speech in “Up the Down Steroid” from season 8.

But no! Cartman presents his take on Faith Hill’s “Sunday Night Football” theme, with Santorum, Romney and Gingrich doing the backup dance. Bellisimo.

This episode had me giggling like a child from start to finish. You know that classic South Park episode I was talking about last week? This is it.

You can read a possibly more eloquent recap over at Splitsider. What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments.

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