“Only by fucking chickens could I get Officer Barbrady to become literate.”
-Book Mobile Driver, South Park S2E3: “Chickenlover”
Brief Synopsis: When a criminal is going around town having sex with chickens and leaving notes, Officer Barbrady quits the force and goes back to school to learn to read in order to catch the culprit.
Title significance: The episode is about the mystery of the “Chickenlover.” There is someone in South Park going around, engaging in sex acts with innocent chickens. Hence the name “Chickenlover.” These actions spark the events of the episode, causing Officer Barbrady to quit and go back to elementary school to learn to read.
“Chickenlover” is initially called “Chickenfucker” by the adults of South Park. They then decide that word is too graphic and begin referring to the perpetrator as “Chickenlover.” Changing the name does not change the crime. It’s just a word, and changing it doesn’t magically make the content okay for children. I think this is a nice little point.
Social commentary: It was such a small bit of the episode, but I thought it was really funny and it was a great way to end the episode on. Officer Barbrady decides he’s never going to read again after having read Ayn Rand because he hated it that much. However you feel about Ayn Rand, I thought this was hilarious (though maybe I’m a bit biased as Ayn Rand has been a subject of much hilarity for me since witnessing my college bestie’s roommate tearfully yell at her boyfriend that she wanted to break up because he reads Ayn Rand).
Most of the episode just seemed to function as a satire of children’s shows like Blue’s Clues where there’s a mystery to be solved with inexplicably easy clues left behind so only a child would have any sort of issue solving the crime. It’s taking that very concept and putting it in a situation where an adult police officer is having difficulty with the clues.
Success of Social Commentary: Not overly exciting this episode.
What “Chickenlover” does right:
- Mystery – This episode really did capture the feel of a children’s mystery. Someone is committing crimes, and the protagonist must learn a basic skill in order to stop them. I think this episode captured this concept and the ridiculousness of it brilliantly. It felt very familiar, and fit really well with Officer Barbrady’s character.
- Cops – Oh my goodness. The dialogue of both Cartman and Officer Barbrady during their stints on Cops is priceless, and by far the funniest part of the episode. I don’t even know what else to say about beside it was hilarious. It had the perfect amount of self-important cliche phrases, and was a wonderful parody.
- Mayoral Aides – More and more I think the Mayor’s aides are my favorite characters (after Ms. Crabtree). They seem to some of the more intelligent adult characters in South Park (and I think the show sometimes needs a bit more of that), and I find their attempts to be intimidating and dramatic amusing.
What “Chickenlover” could have done better:
- The kids – Besides Cartman, the kids really didn’t do much this episode., besides occasionally exclaim how much reading sucks. It kinda makes me wish their roles in this episode were reduced even more. There wasn’t much need for them and what they did do didn’t really add to anything.
- No continued chaos – After Officer Barbrady quits, the town of South Park instantly descends into chaos. And then . . . nothing. It’s as though this plot was completely forgotten about for the rest of the episode. If they didn’t want to make it important to the episode, they could have just used it as a running joke, with riots randomly running through the classroom or something. It just seems like a big thing to put in, then drop without any mention.
- Overrated – This is one of the first episodes of South Park I ever heard quoted (Cartman’s “Respect my authoritah.”). It’s an episode most people seem to really like, and to be honest, I just don’t get it. For the most part, I was pretty bored throughout the episode. There were some parts that were a bit funny, but I struggled to come up with pros for this episode.
Overall: I really wasn’t all that impressed by this episode.