'South Park' Season 16, Episode 7 Recap - 'Cartman Finds Love'
I went to high school in a small town in rural Michigan, which meant by default that pretty much everyone at the school was white. Like, literally almost everyone. We had one black student by the name of Eddie, whom we naturally assumed would be great at basketball. As it turned out, he was, but that doesn't mean we weren't racist for assuming so, nor that he should have avoided playing to prove a point.
That is more or less what this episode of "South Park" was about: the expectations and prejudices that go with race, and the complicated feelings that come out of it. A new girl moves into town, her name is Nichole, and she's black. Upon seeing her, Cartman immediately turns to Token and asks "are you stoked?"
Token, understandably miffed at the idea that Cartman would assume he would like her just because she's black, decides he won't have anything to do with her. As for Nichole, she's interested in Kyle... at least until Cartman tells her that he and Kyle are gay lovers.
Some gentle prodding from Cartman (he locks Nichole and Token in the locker room together) eventually changes their minds, and they start dating, which Cartman finds absolutely heartwarming. In fact, he seems more invested in their relationship than they are. "They're meant to be together," he swoons.
But when Nichole's dad tells her that she doesn't have to date black boys just because she's black (he finds it odd that it happened this way considering they're one of only two black families in South Park), Nichole starts to wonder if they really should be together after all. She worries that people will stare at them and think, "oh, yeah, that makes sense."
Cartman, armed with his imaginary Cupid Me (one of the stranger things Cartman has dreamed up, somehow), sets out to get them back together, which involves telling everyone at the Denver Nuggets game that he loves Kyle, and sings "I Swear" to him over the Megatron.
Token and Nichole come to the realization that they do like being with each other, and if other people are going to make assumptions, then screw them. Not a bad philosophy.
Cartman's racism has always been horrifying, but this seemed extra creepy. Perhaps it was because of the level of commitment to and emotional investment in the relationship that he had, or perhaps it was the way that he managed to rail against race mixing in the most backward way possible.
Maybe not the funniest episode, though Mr. Garrison's teaching of the history of "Game of Thrones" was pretty fantastic, but a poignant one nonetheless.
What they're trying to tell us: Love who you love, no matter what color they are or what other people will think. Also, don't listen to Cartman.