Jarred Has Aides
There he is, beating that dead horse!
It's hard to believe
that we've been visiting the snowy environs of South Park for five years!
The sixth season premiere, while not as aggressively controversial as
last year's "It Hits the Fan," had its fair measure of typical South Parkian
As befits a new
season, the intro has been reworked and the Primus theme remixed à la
J.Lo. (Well, without the help of Ja Rule, that is.) Conspicuously absent
for even the casual viewer was Kenny, who apparently remains dead after
last season's emotional episode "Kenny Dies."
The episode has
a mostly straightforward narrative that focuses on celebrity restaurant
endorsements. Enter Subway's favorite formerly "big-boned" spokesman,
Jarred. His appearance in South Park to tout the benefits of sub sandwiches
is visited by an adoring crowd with "We [heart] Jarred" signs. Our little
heroes Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Butters (!) meet Jarred and learn his
secret: the pounds melted off because of his aides. Yes, Jarred has
aides - not the acquired immunodeficiency kind, but Scott and Tyler,
Jarred's personal trainer and dietician. Of course, Jarred is oblivious
to the profound wrongness of saying things like "hooray for aides!"
Soon after their
fateful meeting with Jarred, Cartman's latest "genius moment" involves
finding a formerly obese person and selling him as a weight loss spokesperson
to the local Chinese restaurant. First, the boys decide to fatten up
Butters, which involves excessive amounts of mayonnaise and a mild ick
factor. Afterward, the boys negotiate with the Asian owner of the unfortunately-named
City Wok, whose grasp on the English "c" sound is given the stereotypical
"sh." However, when Butters can't lose the weight, the boys try at-home
liposuction, which has the desired slimming effect on Butters (more
ick factor) but gets him grounded by his parents.
When Stan, Kyle,
and Butters need to go to City Wok to finalize their deal, Cartman stays
at Butters' house to answer the phone as Butters' parents call to check
on him. Of course, Cartman takes this opportunity to insult Butters'
parents in inventively filthy ways.
In the meantime,
Jarred's focus on "aides" as a positive weight loss program results
in his being fired by Subway and his despondent walk in the rain (à
la the movie Philadelphia). When Jarred proposes the "Aides for
Everyone" foundation to the people of South Park, the standard sitcom
device of "an initial misunderstanding spirals out of control; wackiness
ensues" (perfected by the seminal early seasons of Three's Company)
is taken to its extreme manifestation when the town surrounds Jarred
and puts him on a conveniently-located scaffold for hanging. Is it uncharitable
to suspect that the good people of South Park are too easily prepared
for lynching? (Hey, it's the town flag. - Editor)
The boys arrive
in time to explain Jarred's "aides" and save the day. Everyone apologizes
and laughs about the incident, which leads them to realize that the
appropriate lag time before tragic events can be jokes (22.3 years)
has passed, and AIDS is now funny! Nationwide rejoicing occurs. When
the City Wok owner offers a mere $15 to the boys for Butters' spokesperson
talents, they learn a valuable lesson on the nature of misleading celebrity
Who should be
offended by this episode: that Jarred guy; Subway; anyone HIV-positive,
suffering from AIDS, and/or AIDS activists; anyone who has ever tried
to lose weight; Asian non-native English speakers; proponents of at-home
liposuction; Bruce Springsteen.
In the midst of
the season-premiere fanfare, this week's Worthy Message is difficult
to isolate. The obvious message is that one should always suspect easy
answers provided by advertising. While we might hope that only the most
feeble-minded and easily manipulated adults are unaware of this basic
cultural principle, the fact that George Dubya is president indicates
In the end, the
double-edged commentary on our culture's willingness to mock AIDS is
more interesting. In the past 22.3 years many cruel and thoughtless
people have joked about AIDS because of its initial prevalence in marginalized
populations. The idea that the rest of us can now do it too, without
repercussions, is disturbing because it might not be that far from how
many people feel. Can sympathy have a statutory limit? Perhaps it does.
However, the "AIDS
is funny now" payoff to the entire episode was weak, humor-wise, and
certainly does not reach the level of the darkly comedic classic "Scott
Tenorman Must Die" or the Warner Brothers-inspired slapstick of "Osama
bin Laden has Farty Pants." One expects more from a season premiere.
Next week: the new episodes keep on coming!
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