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South Park returns for the second half of its fourteenth season. That’s quite a feat. Over the past couple of years the show has become increasingly hit or miss. When the show is good it’s amazing, when the show isn’t good…it can still be entertaining but sometimes almost unwatchable. Poor and Stupid is not a great episode, the gag wears thin easily, they overuse the gag, and it just doesn’t feel like a good episode of the show.
Poor and Stupid is reference to Cartman’s desire to become a NASCAR driver but he doesn’t think he can ever grow up to be one. Not because he doesn’t have the proper driving skills or the drive (no pun intended), but because he is not poor and stupid enough. Yeah it’s pretty funny at first. For those of you who don’t know what NASCAR is, it a racing league in the US that focuses on full sized gutted cars driving around an oval track. Making only two left turns and doing so up to 500 times. Its marginally popular in America and has the stigma of being designed for the “poor and stupid”, while this is not true it is the perceived stereotype.
South Park takes the stereotype, makes it literal, and designs a way in which someone can succeed based upon it. South Park is comfortable doing this. They have done it a lot before, and most of the time they succeed in making their point. Cartman has to make himself poor then find a way to make himself stupid, and just like everything else Cartman does, it works and he finds himself in NASCAR. The other drivers and the fans however do not fall into this stereotype and he finds himself at odds with the people he comes into contact with.
As I said before, the poor and stupid joke is used a lot…. And I mean a lot. Halfway through the episode I was already tired of the shtick. Luckily the episode become much funnier when the Vagasil man comes in. I won’t spoil just how he comes into the storyline but towards the end he becomes the only humorous character.
I like Butters in this episode. Butters is definitely a fan favorite and both Trey and Matt have said that he is their favorite character. Over the past couple of seasons Butters and Cartman have become the most interesting duo on the show. Cartman can make Butters do anything and Butters will do anything diligently. Kenny is given a more prominent role in the episode, filling the stereotype and being a huge fan of NASCAR. Kenny thinks that Cartman is giving the sport a bad name and sets off to stop him. In the end something rather unusual happens when you thought Kenny was going to die. He was actually saved, but in doing so two other characters died. The only time I can think of where Kenny was the one whose life was more important.
My main problem with the episode, besides the overused joke, was that I really couldn’t tell what their point was. You would think that it is that not just poor and stupid people like NASCAR, and that it requires some skill. Even if so they do not give off that message well. I love South Park and while this may not have been their best episode is was no Eat, Pray, Queef, or A Million Little Fibers.