TV Review | South Park 12.13: “Elementary School Musical”

South Park is a bit late with its High School Musical parody.  Twilight is more trendy right now, and South Park just made fun of it last week.  I wonder why South Park didn’t take care of High School Musical two years ago, before the cancer became terminal.

Third-grader Bridon Gueermo (pronounced, uh, “queermo”) is forced to sing and dance by his father, but would rather play basketball.  To keep his son in line, Bridon’s father slaps him.  Mr. Gueermo, it should be noted, is an effeminate musical theatre fan.  Child abuse alone makes “Elementary School Musical” more realistic than High School Musical could ever be.

At first, Stan and the boys resist co-opting the High School Musical trend.  Stan, afraid of losing longtime girlfriend Wendy Testaburger to Bridon, jumps on the song-and-dance bandwagon.  Meanwhile, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny have become so unpopular that they start hanging around with lisping diabetic Scott Malkinson.  Mr. Gueermo is slap-happy until Bridon decides to man up and punch his father in the face.  Again, this is more realistic than High School Musical.

Bridon’s father essentially makes “Elementary School Musical.”  The man is a parody of the abusive-father-figure archetype, and he earns the biggest laughs in the episode.  Although Mr. Gueermo’s role is predictable, he makes up for this with nicely over-the-top movements.  The posters for A Chorus Line and Phantom of the Opera are a nice touch.

Scott Malkinson’s debut also has its moments.  Malkinson is instantly more entertaining than Craig Tucker, and Craig’s been around forever.  Malkinson’s lisp, diabetes and sensitive nature feed into Cartman’s mimickry of anything he says.  This character could become another Jimmy or Butters if handled right.

High School Musical deserves to be made fun of.  I’ve never seen the film or its sequels, but I’m as confused as Parker and Stone about the series’ popularity.  Even not knowing what the fuss is about, “Elementary School Musical” could have been funnier.  The Bridon subplot is a too-obvious inversion of High School Musical.  Even Cartman can’t save “Elementary School Musical” from mediocrity.

“Elementary School Musical” is eerily similar to last season’s “Guitar Queer-o.”  Both episodes revolve around a variation of “this trend is literally gay.”  Neither episode is more than sporadically funny.  The only difference between “Guitar Queer-o” and “Elementary School Musical” is that “Guitar Queer-o” was not as well-received when it aired last season.  Using the word “queer” is not shorthand for “instantly funny.”

High School Musical is almost too easy a target for South Park.  Mad Men and 30 Rock are higher fruit and need to be taken down a peg, especially in regards to Tina Fey.  I’m not one to suggest things for South Park to make fun of, but can the show lay off the low-hanging fruit for a while?  South Park‘s fad-skewering episodes can’t be “Chinpokomon” all the time.

C. Archer
Le Social