The media expected South Park‘s 21st season premiere to tackle Charlottesville and white supremacists based on its preview. And it did. But South Park saved its sharpest edges for mocking Americans distraught about the decline in manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs.
In the episode, workers in South Park are up in arms over technology companies automating traditional occupations, so they take to the streets in protest (complete with waving a Confederate flag). The protestors disrupt Randy Marsh’s new house-flipping show, which is called White People Renovating Houses. “Don’t you know every time you wave Confederate flags around you make us look stupid?” Randy scolds.
So Randy proposes a solution: “There’s been a lot of hurt here; hurt from both sides!” he says, echoing President Donald Trump’s infamous take on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. “What if I told you I could get you all jobs?”
Randy’s idea is to have the frustrated townsfolk literally take the place of Amazon’s Alexa shopping assistant units in people’s homes. But the newly employed find memorizing grocery lists and looking up stuff online undignified and threaten to quit.
In the episode’s most scathing exchange, Randy shoots back, “Sorry you didn’t go to college so you have to take the jobs you can get … Coal mining and truck driving are not exactly jobs of the future … You’re stuck in another time, afraid to change.”
That attitude, of course, just makes matters worse, leaving one worker to storm out while declaring, “Muslims trying to kill us, black people rioting, Mexicans having babies … so I say, ‘Kill ’em all!’”
Yet South Park doesn’t go any further down that darker path. Instead, Randy renovates the lead protestor’s house for a rousing finish that brings the town together. “No matter how bad the country gets, you can always count on white people renovating houses,” Randy declares.
Before the episode premiered, many online — particularly, some progressives — were rather concerned how the Comedy Central series would tackle such sensitive subject matter: