South Park said it best, “Why does it always have to be a giant douche vs a Turd Sandwich?” The summary of Election 2016. South Park has been the leader on dealing with socio-political topics for a long time and when I say leader, I mean the “news” networks could learn a great deal from these eternal 4th graders.
One of my favorite hashtags is #SouthParkTeaches, because well, it does. There is an entire series of columns to be written about the way to message to the masses the way South Park does. However to stay on point, the reality is this year they’ve gone from brilliant satirists to modern day Nostradamus.
South Park has been known to turn around episodes in under 24 hours, something that has come in handy as this election became more and more absurd.
We can argue the comedic value of Saturday Night Live another day, their efforts this election cycle with debates between the Presidential Candidates, beautifully portrayed by Alec Baldwin (Trump) and Kate McKinnon (Clinton), have made the show “Must See TV” again. Baldwin for all his faults captured the essence of Trump, perhaps because of his faults, while McKinnon reflected the ambitious, power hungry, Hillary we’ve all come to know.
I’ve actually tuned in to the show “Live” for the first time in years. None was so impressive as the week of the “P*ssy Grabbing” comments. As you watched Baldwin develop his caricature of Trump’s response, you realized these writers had to be quick this year… if they didn’t get it out, there was a likelyhood the candidates themselves might actually do said stupid behavior first.
Imagine your job this year was to mock and make fun of the world, and the world you lived in was 2016. This is the life of a cable tv comedy writer. The ancient blessing or curse, “May You Live In Interesting Times”, should have delivered record ratings and laughs from those shows designed for satire like, “The Daily Show”, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and the Late Night Talk Shows, instead they fell flat.
Maybe their writers couldn’t come up with imaginary scenarios so bizarre that Clinton or Trump wouldn’t eventually actually do it in real life. Maybe they struggled with the more media savvy audience that didn’t need to see the nightly news merely re-enacted, whatever the cause, this election has not been kind to show devoted to propaganda-comedy. Meanwhile South Park and SNL boasted some of their highest viewership. I’d like to think that’s a trend we can celebrate.
During SNL’s final episode prior to the election, they tried to anticipate once again the coming days, with a light hearted approach to the end of this soul crushing cycle.
I’d like to think we’ll hug it out, but that might take more than a musical number on SNL.
South Park growing warnings of being overcome with nostalgia for things left best remembered as they were, is one of the strongest story arcs on all of television. While I don’t personally blame JJ Abrams for the situation we find ourselves in, I can see how you’d reach that conclusion.
The creative brains at South Park have tackled everything from faux feminism to online trolling in a way that average Americans can understand. More importantly they point out the ludicrousness of our every day lives. What they’ve been able to do more concisely than any other outlet is to define the goals of the Candidates, to Hillary Clinton nothing is more important than the Presidency, while Donald Trump himself seems shocked at his own popularity. For those who don’t watch South Park, shame on you. However, Donald Trump is portrayed by Mr. Garrison, a colorful character teacher turned activist, In Mr. Garrison’s close, he gives a speech entitled, “I’m done giving Political Speeches”, where he begs voters to vote for his opponent. This is 2016.
How many times have we read “this or that is beyond parody” in the last year? As a good friend of mine often says, “if I had a dollar…” while the simply bizarre events of 2016 leak outside the political spectrum, they’ve definitely found a home here.