When “South Park” first debuted on Comedy Central way back in 1997, it was essentially an outlet for the brilliantly scatological humor of co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. But somewhere along the line, it evolved from a show about some foul-mouthed kids and the ever-evolving cast of (usually insane) characters in a Denver suburb into one of the sharpest bits of satire on television. Now each week is essentially a rundown of a handful of cultural trends that the “South Park” producers want to identify as stupid, and because of the show’s incredible production efficiency, they can strike with relatively sharp timing (in contrast, “The Simpsons” only just ran its “Twilight” parody, something “South Park” did seemingly eons ago). Wednesday night’s (November 17) episode, titled “Creme Fraiche,” took down two strange trends that didn’t appear to have anything to do with one another but still made for great comedy.
As most of the best latter-day “South Park” episodes do, “Creme Fraiche” focused mainly on Stan’s dad Randy Marsh, as impulsive and committed a character as there is in the animated world. Randy becomes obsessed with cooking shows and dives headlong into becoming an experimental amateur chef. Through a series of machinations, he ends up in charge of South Park Elementary’s cafeteria and eventually finds himself competing on an “Iron Chef”-esque cooking competition program. Along the way, cartoon versions of celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Paula Deen all make appearances, each one goofier than the last (the body design of Giada De Laurentiis was particularly savage). It really drove home the fact that, when you really think about it, there are probably too many cooking shows.
While Randy is distracted by his new life as a deconstructionist chef, his wife Sharon starts an affair with a Shake Weight. It begins innocuously enough, but eventually devolves into the workout device (which makes the user look like he or she is doing something kind of dirty) talking and begging for attention, only to later demand being put on “sleep mode” right after the “workout” is complete. There weren’t a whole lot of jokes that your friends haven’t made already (save for the Shake Weight actually spraying its own “creme fraiche,” a pretty extreme gag), but it was good to get them all out in the open.
Eventually, the Marshes get over their obsessions and get back to normal. Despite the focus on the Marsh parents, the line of the episode belonged to Cartman (who was strangely absent for a bulk of the proceedings). When Stan is complaining about his parents at school, Cartman looks at him with disdain and says, “Hearing you bitch about your dad is super interesting, Stan. I hope you do it all lunch period.”
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