SOUTH PARK: TYLER'S COMMENTARY 10/19/17Picture by FOX                                                                                                 Written by Tyler

Strap in folks, because South Park is finally tackling the opioid crisis. The episode, entitled “Hummels and Heroin,” starts innocently enough at the birthday party of a child named Marcus. The party features a performance from beloved children’s character Chuck E. Cheese, who is visibly intoxicated. Just seconds into Mr. Cheese’s performance, he becomes violently ill and dies of what is concluded to be an opiate overdose. The policeman and EMT that responded to the scene conclude that these drugs must be coming from the prisons, where people “have been thrown away by society and forgotten about.”

The show then cuts not to a prison, but to a nursing home, which is the real source of the drug influx. Stan is there to visit his grandpa and to give him a gift. The receptionist remarks how odd it is that everyone has suddenly been bringing Hummel dolls as gifts to the seniors recently. For those who, like me, have no idea what Hummels are, they’re painted porcelain figurines which are considered valuable collectables. Unbeknownst to all, the seniors are bartering their painkillers in exchange for Hummels, which they use to pay off the “top bitch.” They’re using their grandchildren as drug mules by putting their pills in pillows and telling the kids to exchange them for the dolls.

While that is going on at the nursing home, Marcus is working hard to find the source of the Percocet and Oxycontin that killed Chuck E. Cheese. When Stan realizes that he’s unknowingly been part of this operation, he decides he needs to get to the bottom of the problem before Marcus does in order to avoid implicating both himself and his grandpa. Grandpa Marsh reveals that he is helpless to do anything because whoever has the most Hummels is top bitch in the nursing home, and right now that is the malevolent Mrs. McGillicuddy.

The boys hatch a plan to distract the seniors by posing as a protestant youth group there to perform songs. While the seniors are watching the children sing, Stan sneaks away to Mrs. McGillicuddy’s room to steal all her Hummels. Though Marcus catches him in the act, Stan convinces him that they’re both on the same side, and they give the Hummels to Grandpa Marsh, making him the de facto leader of the nursing home. McGillicuddy is sent to “solitaire,” and the seniors are free of the tyranny and drug trafficking they’d had to endure for so long. The last thing we see before the credits is Marcus confronting a conference full of doctors and big pharma executives, leaving the possibility open that this episode may be continued next week.

The best episodes of South Park present a solution to a problem or a strong opinion from the writers on an issue. “Hummels and Heroin” leaves the viewer with a sense of helplessness, as it heavily implies that resolving this public health crisis is a futile task unless pharmaceutical companies can somehow be stopped from overprescribing the opiates that bring them such a large profit. Even though the boys took down one drug ring, they acknowledge that they barely put a dent in the real problem. Hopefully there will be more said in next week’s episode, but for now it seems Trey and Matt have no better ideas than anyone else as to how to fix this problem.

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