Medicinal Fried Chicken
|"Medicinal Fried Chicken"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 14
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||March 31, 2010|
"Medicinal Fried Chicken" is the third episode of the fourteenth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 198th episode of the series overall. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 31, 2010. In the episode, the South Park KFC is replaced by a medical marijuana dispensary, and Cartman gets involved in black market selling the KFC chicken. Meanwhile, Randy Marsh gets a medical referral for marijuana by giving himself testicular cancer, which makes his testicles grow to grotesquely huge proportions.
The episode was written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker, and was rated TV-MA in the United States. "Medicinal Fried Chicken" was first broadcast when Colorado was considering revising state medicinal marijuana laws and restricting fast food eateries. The episode provided social commentary against both types of laws, and suggested legislating lifestyle choices is ineffective and inevitably leads to black markets.
The Cartman drug market subplot was heavily influenced by the 1983 crime film Scarface, with Cartman resembling fictional drug lord Tony Montana and KFC founder Colonel Sanders as antagonist Alejandro Sosa. The episode also included several jokes about Pope Benedict XVI and the child sexual abuse scandals that had been surrounding the Catholic Church at the time. The concept of a former KFC restaurant becoming a marijuana dispensary come from a news story about a real marijuana dispensary in Palms, Los Angeles, built at a site formerly housing a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.
"Medicinal Fried Chicken" received generally positive reviews, with many commentators praising the social commentary and sophomoric testicle jokes alike. According to Nielsen Media Research, the episode was seen by 2.99 million viewers, making it one of the most successful cable programs of the week. Although a KFC spokesman had a lukewarm response to "Medicinal Fried Chicken", officials from the KFC hometown of Corbin, Kentucky were pleased the city was featured in the episode.
New state laws prohibiting fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods result in the closure of all KFC eateries in Colorado, much to the dismay of Cartman, who is addicted to the food. When Randy learns that South Park's KFC outlet is now a medical marijuana dispensary, he attempts to give himself cancer so he can get a doctor's referral for marijuana (after first gaining a clean bill of health from his doctor since he had assumed permits are given to the healthy). By irradiating his groin with a microwave oven, Randy successfully gives himself testicular cancer, making his testicles so large that he has to use a wheelbarrow to carry them. Randy obtains his medical referral and starts smoking marijuana regularly. Meanwhile, his testicles continue to grow to the point that he uses them as a space hopper for movement. Randy finds that larger testicles are attractive to women, so he encourages his friends to also get testicular cancer. The local doctor, unaware of the men's self-irradiation, becomes convinced that a recent change in South Park is responsible for the cancer outbreak.
Meanwhile, Cartman has literally started to go into withdrawal. He tries to attend a methadone clinic but is disappointed when he only receives a small paper cup full of gravy. Wandering the streets aimlessly, he meets a boy named Tommy, who introduces him to Billy Miller, a local boy who runs a small KFC cartel from his home. After Cartman demonstrates his ruthlessness against a cheating street dealer as well as paying his turf to Billy as promised, Billy sends him to Corbin to buy chicken directly from Colonel Sanders. Tommy accompanies Cartman, but he is revealed to be an informant for healthy foods advocate Jamie Oliver and executed by the Colonel's men by hanging him from a helicopter exactly like the scene from Scarface. Cartman wins over the Colonel's trust, but is warned to never betray him: "Just remember, I only tell you one time. Don't fuck me, Eric. Don't you ever try to fuck me." Cartman eventually betrays Billy by telling Billy's mother that he got an F on his social studies test, and takes over the cartel after Billy is grounded. The Colonel assigns Cartman the task of assassinating Oliver to prevent him from giving a speech in the United Nations. However, Cartman immediately disregards the Colonel's order and starts eating much of the chicken supplied to him for distribution, putting the operation in danger. The Colonel, furious at Cartman's betrayal, sends a squad of gunmen to kill him in retaliation. A firefight between the gunmen and police then breaks out at the cartel headquarters, and Billy's mother is killed in the crossfire, but Cartman escapes unscathed.
Randy's testicles grow so large that he is unable to fit through the doors of the marijuana dispensary. Prohibited by law from purchasing marijuana outside the premises, Randy and the other self-irradiated men begin protesting for larger marijuana dispensary doors. As some politicians present start to discuss ways to get around the problem, the marijuana dispensary owner simply suggests that marijuana be legalized, arguing that "people are just abusing this medicinal system anyway." The doctor interrupts by claiming the recent ban on KFC had led to the rise in testicular cancer because the chicken somehow prevented the illness. Colorado bans marijuana once again and reopens KFC, which has now been re-branded as "Medicinal Fried Chicken." Randy has his cancerous testicles removed and replaced with prosthetic ones, and has the skin from his removed enlarged scrotum made into a new coat for Sharon.
"Medicinal Fried Chicken" was written by series co-founders Trey Parker and Matt Stone, was directed by Parker, and was rated TV-MA in the United States. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 31, 2010. The episode was first broadcast around the same time a great deal of discussion regarding marijuana laws had been generated in Colorado, where South Park is set and where Parker and fellow series co-creator Matt Stone are from. The state had a medicinal marijuana law that allowed patients to obtain cards to purchase marijuana legally, but as of March 2010, an average of 1,000 people were applying for the cards each day, and many of the applications were of questionable validity and intent. As a result, state officials had been considering whether to revise the medicinal marijuana law, and "Medicinal Fried Chicken" was likely influenced by those discussions. The episode was also based on new Colorado health care laws that threatened to put restrictions on fast food restaurants in the state.
The fried chicken fast food restaurant KFC is featured prominently in "Medicinal Fried Chicken". The concept of a former KFC restaurant becoming a medicinal marijuana store mirrors that of a real life marijuana dispensary in the Palms community of Los Angeles, California. The store, called Kind for Cures, is abbreviated to be called K.F.C. on its exterior signs and resembles the KFC fast food eateries in appearance, which has drawn national media attention to the marijuana dispensary. Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC who died in 1980 but is still used heavily in the chain's advertisements, is portrayed as a living character in "Medicinal Fried Chicken", although he is portrayed as a drug kingpin rather than an entrepreneur. Corbin, Kentucky, the home town of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken, is featured in the episode, though here it is portrayed as resembling a South American hacienda/narcoplantation.
"Medicinal Fried Chicken" includes several jokes about Pope Benedict XVI and the child sexual abuse scandals that surrounded the Catholic Church when the episode first aired. On three occasions, Cartman uses expanded and modified versions of idiomatic phrases, such as "is the Pope Catholic?", "does a bear shit in the woods?", and their combination, "does the Pope shit in the woods?", which are rhetorical questions used in response to a question where the answer is an emphatic yes. Thus, Cartman implies an affirmative response to questions such as: "Does the pope help pedophiles get away with their crimes?" and "Is the Pope Catholic? And making the world safe for pedophiles?" These are references to allegations that Pope Benedict XVI ignored warnings and concealed evidence that Rev. Peter Hullermann engaged in several acts of child sexual abuse under the future Pope's watch as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in the 1980s. During another scene, Cartman says, "Does a bear crap in the woods? And does the Pope crap on the broken lives and dreams of 200 deaf boys?" This is a reference to reports that Pope Benedict XVI failed to act to reports that Father Lawrence C. Murphy molested up to 200 deaf boys during his time at the St John's Catholic School for the Deaf.
Cartman's involvement with the fried chicken black market closely mirrors the plot of Scarface, the 1983 crime film about the fictional drug lord Tony Montana. Cartman takes on the role of Montana, and Colonel Sanders resembles the drug kingpin antagonist, Alejandro Sosa.
In "Medicinal Fried Chicken", Cartman travels to a foreign land to meet a dealer, usurps the illegal operation from his local boss, and is ultimately brought down because he becomes addicted to his own product. All of these plot points mirror the developments in Scarface and Montana's rise and fall as a cocaine dealer. The episode includes several scenes that mirror scenes from Scarface, including one in which Cartman watches a boy get murdered on a helicopter, and the final scene in which Cartman's compound is attacked by gunmen. The episode also includes references to the 1991 crime film New Jack City.
Colonel Sanders orders Cartman to stop Jamie Oliver, a British celebrity chef known for his campaign against fast food, as shown in his show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. On March 23, 2010, Jamie Oliver made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, just 8 days before the episode aired, in which Letterman argued against Oliver's protest of fast food. Throughout the episode, Cartman is critical of fast food fried chicken eateries that compete with KFC. This includes Church's Chicken, which he said "tastes like cat shit", and Boston Market, when a dealer unsuccessfully tries to pass Boston Market gravy off as KFC gravy to Cartman. Randy says he wants to induce cancer and get medicinal marijuana in time to attend a concert by reggae singer Ziggy Marley. The song playing whilst the group of men bounce around on their enlarged testicles is "Chicken on the Rocks", by Jean Jacques Perrey and Dana Countryman, in a poorly recorded quality. After buying marijuana, Randy remarks he has to rush home to watch Caprica, the science fiction drama series from the network SyFy.
Whilst transporting his enlarged cancerous scrotum and testicles in a wheelbarrow Randy Marsh appears very similar to the popular Viz character Buster Gonad, a character introduced in 1989 and famous for his "unfeasibly large testicles" which he always karted around in a wheelbarrow much like Randy in this episode. While Randy was pushing his swollen testicle to the dispensary for the first time, he was singing Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier.
In its original American broadcast on March 31, 2010, "Medicinal Fried Chicken" was watched by 2.99 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the most watched cable television show of the night, and one of the top performing cable programs of the week. Although a slight drop from the 3.24 million viewers of the previous week's episode, "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs", the viewership for "Medicinal Fried Chicken" was considered a strong showing. The episode received an overall 1.9 rating/3 share, meaning that it was seen by 1.9% of the population, and 3% of people watching television at the time of the broadcast. Among viewers between ages 18 and 49, it received a 1.7 rating/5 share, and among male viewers between 18 and 34, it received a 3.1 rating/11 share.
The A.V. Club writer Josh Modell said "Medicinal Fried Chicken" served as a good social satire without becoming too preachy. Modell particularly enjoyed that the other South Park men joined Randy in his absurd testicular cancer scheme, but said the Cartman subplot and drug film parody "fell a little flat". Ramsley Isler of IGN said the giant testes jokes were "brilliantly ludicrous", and did not grow old despite running throughout the length of the episode. Isler praised the ending scene with the scrotum skin coat, and said when Cartman snorted chicken skin like cocaine, "the episode reached a whole new level [of] hilarity". TV Fanatic declared the episode "perfection" and felt it was an improvement over the previous fourteenth season episodes "Sexual Healing" and "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs". The site also praised the episode for use gross-out comedy like enlarged testicles for social satire as well as humor. Carlos Delgado of iF Magazine praised the humor, the references to Scarface and the social commentary, of which he said: "The points were smart, articulate, and, in true South Park style, completely off the wall".
When asked how KFC felt about their portrayal in "Medicinal Fried Chicken", company spokesman Ricky Maynard said only: "As you might expect, KFC Corporation was not contacted by Comedy Central for permission to use our brand in South Park. We had absolutely no say in the show's content." However, officials from Corbin, Kentucky, said they were pleased the city was featured in "Medicinal Fried Chicken", even though it was portrayed as a drug slum. The city has been conducting a campaign to capitalize on its connections to KFC and Colonel Sanders, and Sharae Myers, the city's Main Street manager, said of the episode: "One thing I think is great is that Corbin got the recognition: that the mecca for KFC is in Corbin."
"Medicinal Fried Chicken", along with the thirteen other episodes from South Park's fourteenth season, were released on a three-disc DVD set and two-disc Blu-ray set in the United States on April 26, 2011.
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