by Emily Reuben
“Put it Down” is the best episode yet this season, as it mirrors the desire of a large portion of the country: to make President Trump put his phone down and stop tweeting. While this episode’s firm political criticism and stance on the President will undoubtedly result in controversy amongst viewers, “Put it Down” offers a fair amount of fun compared to last week’s dull episode.
The episode begins at a school assembly. Tweek takes the stage screeching about the threat posed by North Korea and that “we are all going to die”. After this strange public display, the kids urge Craig to calm down Tweek seeing as the two are still dating after season 20 (which is hilarious). Craig convinces Tweek to send the North Koreans cupcakes as a sort of peace offering. This initially seems to work until President Garrison antagonizes North Korea on Twitter, essentially stating that Tweek is playing a massive prank on them. Tweek, understandably upset, is now more petrified than ever.
Cartman has his own B-plot in this episode. After leaving Heidi last week, Cartman proclaims that they had to get back together because Heidi is suicidal. However, Heidi provides Stan a voicemail in which Cartman begs Heidi to take him back and threatens to kill himself. After being ridiculed for his behavior in the voicemail, Cartman makes it his mission this episode to promote suicide awareness (though only in regards to himself), despite it being distracted driver awareness week.
In the end, the school holds a recital urging “anyone who is president” to put down their phone, obviously jabbing at President Trump’s reckless tweeting.
South Park is known for having great musical numbers, and this reputation is further solidified in “Put it Down”. While promoting awareness for his own apparent suicidal tendencies, Cartman creates a song titled “Eric We Don’t Want You to Die” in which he parades through the school asking students to care about Cartman’s “abusive relationship” and depression…and the school doesn’t care at all. This is reminiscent of the episode in Season 12 titled, “Elementary School Musical” where the boys attempt to be cool by breaking into song spontaneously and dancing, but the school hardly reacts to them.
Cartman is always best when he is at his worst. Exploiting mental health awareness for his own gain is despicable, but that’s why we love Cartman. In the past season Cartman simply wasn’t interesting. It’s great to see his narcissistic, terrible side taking stage once more.
It should go without saying that the satire here is great. President Garrison is obviously the show’s stand in for President Trump and Trey Parker and Matt Stone are obviously calling for the President to stop endangering the American public with his immature tweets.
While by no means the most hilarious South Park episode ever made, this episode indicates a vast improvement for the series after a previous season of disappointment. If the season continues like this, we are in for a great ride.
Featured image from South Park Archives
South Park Season 21, Episode 2: "Put It Down"
With great performances from Cartman and great social satire to match, “Put it Down” indicates a resurgence of the hysterical South Park we know and love.