‘South Park’ Season 19: ‘Safe Space’ Episode Review

This week on South Park, Whole Foods ‘charity-shames’ and political correctness executes reality. In this week’s episode entitled “Safe Space,” a perfect blend of personal and political grievances with 2015’s America are aired by show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

The two main topics in this show were the very public ‘Anti-Shaming’ campaigns from many special interest groups and the very specific and personal problem of cashiers at Whole Foods who are a little too insistent about you donating an extra dollar to help starving kids overseas. In classic South Park style, Matt and Trey figured out a way to connect the two issues in a way that gave a middle finger to everyone EXCEPT starving children.

The episode begins with Eric Cartman crying to the school’s new PC Principal about posting a picture of himself on social media and getting made fun of for being fat. The school counselor, Mr. Mackey, is also in the room and blurts out the obvious response, “Well maybe you shouldn’t have posted a picture in your underwear on social media.” PC Principal shoves Mackey up against the wall and declares there will be no body-shaming in his school. PC’s solution is to enlist South Park sweetheart, Butters Stotch, to manage and edit Cartman’s social media accounts, filtering out all the negative comments.

Meanwhile, we keep seeing vignettes of Randy Marsh checking out at Whole Foods and being bullied by the cashier for not choosing to give an additional dollar to hungry kids across the globe. The cashier does everything in his power to make sure everyone within earshot knows Randy declined to donate a dollar. Soon Randy is “charity-shamed” into appearing in hungry children commercials. The kids are generically brown and living in sheet metal shacks, but Randy is there to talk about a much more important issue: shaming.

Butters is forced to filter more and more peoples’ social media accounts including Steven Seagal, Demi Lovato, plus sized models for an ad campaign about challenging body-types, and Vin Diesel. This leads to a broadway-style song about “Safe Spaces” where they talk about “bully-proof windows” and “troll-safe doors.” The ’50s cartoon-style villain called “Reality” is the troll who tries to enter their safe spaces and hurt them. At the end of another commercial featuring starving kids, the hashtag #shamelessAmerica is introduced; it’s a special interest group established by Demi Lovato, Randy Marsh, and the others who are being shamed to end online shaming altogether.

The stories crash together when Reality begins to threaten Butters, which causes him to run around naked and screaming. Kyle and Stan try to get Butters to stop, but he jumps out of a window. When Reality begins pacing back and forth on stage at #shamelessAmerica’s benefit dinner, I could hear Trey Parker’s own inner voice give the speech: “You feel saaaad that people are meeaan? Well I’m sorry the world isn’t one big liberal arts college campus!”

Another starving children commercial is produced where iPads are given to the kids so they can manage people’s social media accounts for a small donation. At the end of the episode, when Randy goads Butters into publicly hanging Reality in the gallows, ensuring no one will ever hear an unkind word again, I could see little pieces of Matt and Trey’s cynical souls crying out for help. I don’t know what’s going to come on next week’s episode of South Park, but I know I can’t wait to find out.

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