Donald Trump has returned to ruin the lives of citizens in “South Park” yet again, despite show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s previous hints that the series wouldn’t satirize the president this season.
“We decided to just kind of back off and let them do their comedy and we’ll do ours,” Parker had said of the Trump administration in February. Later the duo clarified that they might occasionally have a Trump storyline, but didn’t want to focus on the president as much as they did last season, during which they repeatedly addressed the election and Trump’s subsequent win.
In any case, Trump is back, but a bit different than before. The “South Park” parody of the president looks and talks like Donald Trump, but isn’t called “Donald Trump.” Because in 2015, the character Mr. Garrison raped and killed the show’s version of Trump, who was somehow president of Canada at the time. And then Mr. Garrison assumed Trump’s identity and became president in the U.S. (The show often asks viewers to just roll with the absurdity).
Season 21′s president (it’s unclear what has happened to Mr. Garrison, or if the remaining character has just taken off his glasses) hasn’t physically shown up in “South Park” yet, but his words still dominated the episode as he repeatedly tweeted antagonizing statements about North Korea.
The episode seems to at least partly be a response to Trump’s address to the United Nations on Tuesday, when Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and called leader Kim Jong Un a “rocket man.” After the season premiere last week, in which “South Park” tried to have a relevant take on the uprise of white supremacist marches without mentioning Trump, Stone and Parker might be course-correcting by acknowledging that Trump is still on most Americans minds and a part of these problems.
To start the episode, a young student in the town of South Park (Tweek) plays a song about the current political climate. The performance is part of what appears to be a talent show at the local school and consists of Tweek banging on the piano, creating discordant sounds and wailing. He then launches into yelling about how North Korea is going to kill us all and it’s the president’s fault. Here’s part of the “song”:
We’re all going to die! They have nuclear missiles. Why are you just sitting there doing nothing?! We have to get out of here. North Korea wants to kill us and our president keeps making it worse. Why are you all just sitting there? Why are you all acting like nothing’s wrong? North Korea is going to bomb us. We are all dead. We have to do something. Do something! Do something! Ahhhh!
At the end of the song, Tweek runs off stage, leaving the next student performer to try and sing “Wheels on the Bus” through tears. (It’s always good to be reminded that the “South Park” kids are barely in their double digits age-wise).
The central conceit of the episode becomes whether Tweek is overreacting or not. His boyfriend, Craig, suggests he call his congressman, but Tweek says that won’t work. Then Craig convinces Tweek to send the North Koreans cupcakes so that they’ll know Americans don’t feel the same way as the president. This works ... until the president starts tweeting about how Tweek “took a dump in the batter.”
Throughout the episode, the president (who remains nameless) keeps tweeting, often specifically about Tweek, thus making the North Korea situation worse. At one point North Korea shoots a missile over the town of South Park.
Here are a few of the president’s tweets:
As often happens on “South Park,” multiple plotlines end up coming together in the end. Throughout the episode, other students are trying to raise awareness of the deadly effects of distracted driving, because adults reading and freaking out about the president’s tweets from behind the wheel keep running over children in the town. (The moral if there is one: irresponsibly freaking out about the president’s remarks only makes the situation worse.)
To close out the episode, Tweek partners with his boyfriend to perform another song. This time Tweek doesn’t just bang on the piano, and Craig sings about the dangers of being distracted by your phone. Taking a turn, more “South Park” kids join in the chorus and sing about how if you’re president, you shouldn’t use your phone at the same time, either. “Put it down,” the children sing. “Don’t be on your phone while being president / Put it down / You might do something dumb and cause an accident.”
After, locals start taking a pledge to put down their phones if they become president. Hillary Clinton even shows up to take the pledge.
The “South Park” creators will famously write their episodes just days before they air, allowing the show to respond to actual current events. Stone and Parker are clearly frustrated that Trump has dominated daily news every week since 2015, but unfortunately, that’s still America’s reality. Just as this episode suggested, all this country can do right now is take deep breaths and try to survive another day.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Tweek’s boyfriend is named Greg. He is, in fact, named Craig.