|South Park episode|
Randy talks to the masses about the economy.
|Episode no.||Season 13
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Original airdate||March 25, 2009|
|List of South Park episodes|
"Margaritaville" is the third episode of the thirteenth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 184th overall episode of the series. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 25, 2009. The episode is a satire and commentary on the global recession affecting much of the industrialized world at the time of the episode's broadcast. Kyle is portrayed as a Jesus-like savior working to save the economy, and Stan spends much of the episode trying to return a personal Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville machine, which serves as a metaphor for the housing bubble.
The episode was written and directed by series co-founder Trey Parker, and was rated TV-MA L in the United States. It received generally positive reviews by television critics and, according to Nielsen ratings, was seen by 2.77 million households in its original airing, making it the most-watched Comedy Central production of the week.
"Margaritaville" won the 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program for Programming Less Than One Hour.
Randy thinks it is important for Stan to learn how to save his money, so they visit a local bank. Stan gives the bank employee the $100 check he received from his grandmother, which is lost a second later in a mutual fund investment. Other people come up and lose their money in the investment, as well. At dinner, Randy explains to Stan that the economy is failing due to people spending their money on luxuries, and ironically continues his tirade while making himself a margarita in a Margaritaville-brand mixer, the noise of which drowns out his voice.
People in South Park are struggling with the recent economic downturn, and many people on the street are castigating those whom they would blame. Cartman is there too, and predictably blames the Jews, claiming they hid the money in a "Jew Cave". Randy convinces everyone to reduce their spending to only "bare essentials" in order to propitiate the economy's anger. He recommends wearing bedsheets and riding llamas. Kyle, getting annoyed, responds that the economy is not actually angry with them, and that they should be out spending money. Kyle continues to preach that the economy only exists as a mental construct, and that if they want the economy to be strong, they must have faith in it. Randy and the council, upon hearing this, decide that they need to kill Kyle. Cartman, in his desire to obtain a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, says that he will deliver Kyle to Randy and his friends in exchange for the game.
In a scene resembling that of the Last Supper, Kyle and his friends go out for pizza where he laments that he feels they will not be able to get together like this anymore because he thinks one of his friends will betray him. The next day, Kyle sets up a table with a credit card machine in the town and begins "paying everybody's debts" with his American Express Platinum Card. Kyle's mother begs him to stop because he will be in debt for life, but Kyle feels he must to help everybody in the town. The episode ends with a news report giving credit to Barack Obama for the recovery of South Park's economy, rather than Kyle.
As a subplot, Stan spends most of the episode trying to return the aforementioned Margaritaville mixer. The trendy retailer Sur La Table will not accept the return because it was bought on a payment plan. He tries to find out to whom he can return it, each person saying the debt has been packaged and sold to someone else (much like real-life mortgage-backed securities). Eventually he goes all the way to the United States Treasury, where a group of associates "consult the charts" and tell him the mixer is worth $90 trillion. One of the three treasury workers says that another insurance company is failing and asks what they should do. They say they have to "consult the charts" again. Stan follows the men inside. He sees a round lit-up gameshow style board. The men cut off a chicken's head and let the decapitated chicken run on the board while one of them plays the Benny Hill theme song on a kazoo. The chicken falls on the "bailout!" spot, so that is what the men do. In anger at the ridiculousness of the system, Stan breaks the mixer on the platform by the chicken and walks off.
"Margaritaville" was written and directed by series co-founder Trey Parker. It first aired on March 25, 2009 in the United States on Comedy Central. Parker and fellow co-creator Matt Stone said they had long planned to do an episode about the global recession, but did not want to rush it. During an interview a few weeks before the episode aired, Stone said, "That's one of those big things we want to get right. We'll be talking about what kind of social commentary we want to make and do it right." Like most South Park episodes, Parker, fellow co-founder Matt Stone, and their team created the episode within a week of its broadcast date.
"Margaritaville" is a satire and commentary on the global recession affecting much of the industrialized world at the time of the episode's broadcast on March 25, 2009. Randy's approach to resolving the recession, calling for frugality and stigmatizing spending on luxuries, and the result of causing the quality of life in South Park to deteriorate, is a demonstration of the paradox of thrift. Kyle's counter-movement could be broadly interpreted as Keynesian, given Kyle's heavy emphasis on the demand-driven causes of the recession, his assertion that an entire economy is not a personal being and not driven by a moral imperative, and his final act of liquidating the town's bad debts in order to stimulate demand.
Within a week of the episode's original broadcast, the online retailer Zazzle and South Park Studios, the official South Park website, released t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts based on "Margaritaville", including shirts with Randy dressed in rags saying "Finger pointing gets us nowhere!" and "We must mock the economy no longer!" Other shirts included the finance company executive saying "Ooh, yeah, no, you know what, yeah, no..." and an image of the The Last Supper-inspired pizza dinner between Kyle and his friends.
The episode's title comes from the Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville blender featured in the episode, which serves as a metaphor for the housing bubble. "Margaritaville" is also the name of a popular 1977 song by singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who has been the butt of South Park humor in the past.
Kyle is portrayed as a Jesus-like savior who makes a tremendous sacrifice to save the economy. A dinner he has with his friends is portrayed as The Last Supper, the final meal Jesus had with his Twelve Apostles before his death. Cartman takes on the role of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, while some of the South Park residents form a council. Kyle uses a platinum American Express card to pay off the debts of all South Park residents. After paying off the debt, he pass out and some South Park residents carried him to bed, which is the similarity that Jesus was carried to his tomb.
Cartman initially says he wants the newly released Grand Theft Auto IV game for the handheld game console Nintendo DS. In later references in the episode, Cartman refers to Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Grand Theft Auto IV is an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC game not available for Nintendo DS, whereas Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (which is set in the Grand Theft Auto IV universe/location) was released on DS within a week of the original "Margaritaville" broadcast date. Video game writers had differing opinions on whether the original reference to Grand Theft Auto IV was deliberate or a mistake. Representatives from game developer Rockstar Games told video game blog Kotaku they liked the reference, but did not know in advance it would be in the episode.
The characters interviewed in a news report who say the economy "took our jobs!" originally appeared in the eighth season episode "Goobacks", in which they complain about time-travelling immigrants taking their jobs.
In its original American broadcast, "Margaritaville" was watched by 2.77 million overall households, according to the Nielsen ratings, making it the most-watched Comedy Central production of the week. The episode received generally positive reviews from television critics. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly said of the episode, "The episode was the most back-handed endorsement imaginable of President Obama's economic bailout plan. Or the most withering dismantling of it. As usual, South Park had it both ways." Tucker also said of Cartman's blaming the Jews for the recession, "Among its many achievements, South Park has exposed anti-Semitism to such relentless ridicule over the years, it deserves some sort of humanitarian award." Financial writer Roger Nusbaum said the episode was not only "humorous" but provided a decent analysis of the recession. He particularly praised Randy's inclusion of margaritas with the barest of necessities; Nasbaum said most people tend to take on absurd expenses that they fail to realize are unnecessary, even as they discuss the plight of the economy.
Brad Trechak of TV Squad called "Margaritaville" a highlight of the season. Mike Fahey of Kotaku said the episode had "a clever little plot". Zac Bissonnette of BloggingStocks said of the episode, "It isn't quite as trenchant as some of the other Wall Street satire that's been making the rounds, but it's definitely worth watching." Carlos Delgado of If magazine said the episode included many excellent moments, including the headless chicken method of making economic decisions, but otherwise felt "Margaritaville" was not as strong as previous episodes like "The Ring". Delgado said, "Maybe I’m too depressed about the current economic situation, who knows, but although “Margaritaville” was well written and poignant, I wasn’t bursting out in laughter every two minutes."
"Margaritaville" won a 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program for Programming Less Than One Hour. It competed against Robot Chicken, The Simpsons and American Dad in the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, which was held September 12, 2009.