While recent seasons of South Park took a more serialized approach to its sordid storytelling, Season 22 is all about skewering anything and everything making headlines in recent months. In the punnily titled “The Problem with a Poo,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone used Mr. Hankey to take on outrage culture and offensive tweets. The episode ended with the offensive Mr. Hankey being exiled to live in, where else, Springfield. Check out the harsh burn in the video below.
In “The Problem with a Poo,” Mr. Hankey gets fired from the Christmas pageant for posting disrespectful tweets. After that, the episode parodied Brett Kavanagh’s trial that recently took over headlines, and also targeted Roseanne Barr’s Twitter scandal, with Mr. Hankey blaming Ambien for his tweets. But it was at the end of the episode that South Park brought the story back around to the episode title by introducing Mr. Hankey to The Simpsons‘ Apu.
For those who are unaware of what this ending is referring to, it derives from the comedian Hari Kondabolu’s recent documentary The Problem with Apu. In it, Kondabolu draws attention to the negative impact that Apu has created for Indian culture both here in the U.S. and abroad. The issue was seemingly taken seriously by Apu portrayer Hank Azaria, who agreed that changes should be made.
However, The Simpsons itself responded slightly more negatively in the Season 29 episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” In that ep, Marge edits a beloved book from her childhood to remove the “politically incorrect” material, and then realizes it took away from what made the book special. Many felt that story, and the fourth-wall-breaking final moments, missed the point of Hari Kondabolu’s work. This was further echoed by Matt Groening’s comments saying that “people love to pretend they’re offended.”
One of the most offensive shows of all time, South Park is no stranger to taking off-handed swipes at the Fox hit, with 2002’s “Simpsons Already Did It” as the standout. But while the clip above was likely conceived as a relatively good-natured jab from one long-running animated series to another., it goes deeper than sarcasm. Although it’s hard to tell how seriously anyone is about that show-capping hashtag.
Of course, it’s hard to tell just how serious South Park was with this episode. After all, the strange promotional campaign for Season 22 was partially just a bunch of billboards and signs that said “#CancelSouthPark.” Now that we’re a few episodes into the season, it’s more clear the marketing team was teasing Season 22 covering an abundance of hot button issues, such as molestation within the Catholic Church and school shootings.