In traditional fashion, this week’s episode of “South Park” was a timely, overstuffed upbraiding of a number of current scandals engulfing American culture, topped off with a surprise last-minute call to action. While an early clip of the episode — the third of the Comedy Central series’ twenty-second season — released this week hinted that it would take on the recent Brett Kavanaugh hearings, using the perpetually popular Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo as a stand-in for the embattled Supreme Court justice, that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Mr. Hankey was indeed subject to a bizarre hearing that amusingly aped some of the more notable moments from Kavanaugh’s recent testimony regarding claims of sexual assault, but with another timely twist: Mr. Hankey had been fired from directing the annual holiday pageant after a series of “offensive tweets” from his past resurfaced. Mr. Hankey hoped to use the hearing to clear his name, only making things worse by blaming his tweets and “bad jokes” on an Ambien overdose.
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It’s a weak excuse that will sound familiar to anyone who followed the recent Roseanne Barr drama, in which the fabled comedian fired off a series of racist tweets and then attempted to blame it on that same sleep drug. Like Barr, Mr. Hankey isn’t vindicated in the least, and ends up bounced from not just the pageant but the fictitious Colorado city that plays home to the series.
That’s where things really got interesting. Shunned from his community, Mr. Hankey alights for new pastures, as the remaining South Park residents chatter that he’ll have to find a place “that accepts racist, awful beings like him,” a place where people “don’t care about bigotry and hate.” Cue “The Simpsons” opening music and classic cloud-parting opening shot.
In retrospect, however, the truth was obvious enough, because it was right there in the episode’s title: “The Problem with a Poo.” That title is a reference to Hari Kondabolu’s recent documentary “The Problem with Apu,” which attempts to unpack the impact of classic “Simpsons” character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, often viewed as a racist depiction of South Asian characters.
Fittingly, a version of Apu — complete with over the top accent — greets Mr. Hankey, just before the screen cuts to black and offers up a call to #cancelthesimpsons. Sure, it could just be “South Park” continuing to rib a competitor (and just last month, the show’s Twitter account issued its own call to “#cancelsouthpark,” but it was a singular moment to end the show on, especially one that already had so much other material to send up.
Check out a clip from the show below.