The opioid epidemic is the focus of the latest episode of “South Park,” which is titled “Hummels and Heroin.”
The opioid crisis has been in the news recently following a “60 Minutes”/Washington Post report on the drug industry’s involvement with the epidemic.
In this episode, entertainers for kids’ birthday parties, such as Chuck E. Cheese and Swiper the Fox, are overdosing and dying all over town. This prompts an investigation from one of the kids.
The source of the drugs turns out to be an old retirement home where old people sell their pills for Hummel figurines because they “hold a secret power.” Stan’s grandpa explains to him that whoever has the most figurines in the retirement home becomes “top b*tch.”
When the retirement home is shown ghetto rap music plays in sequences based off the HBO show “Oz” while the “top b*tch” — an old lady — walks through the hall intimidating people. Overprescribed pills are one of the many causes of the opioid epidemic, especially with older people. One study found that “21.3% of community-dwelling patients 65 years or older were using at least one drug inappropriately prescribed.” In the episode, their weekly shipment of pills is shown being dumped at the retirement home by a large dump truck, satirizing these prescriptions.
In the end, the boys try to stop the “top b*tch” by stealing her Hummel figurines and giving them to Stan’s grandpa. Then out of nowhere Stan’s grandpa beats down the old lady with a sack full of Hummels, cementing himself as the leader of the nursing home. This dark twist to the end was the “secret power” of the Hummels.
This episode turned a dark subject like the opioid crisis and made it funny, like only “South Park” could. “Hummels and Heroine” gives insight to a big problem in America in an outrageous way.
My only criticism is that I wish they mentioned the pharmaceutical companies more. This episode was the most unique of season 21 and drew on many themes from earlier seasons, which made it great.