After faking some fans out with a faux season finale to its "Tegrity Farms" story arc, South Park returned this week with the new season 23 episode, "Board Girls". True to its title, "Board Girls" dips into the resurgence of board and table top games as a cultural fascination - with a twist. The boys of South Park like Cartman, Stan and Kyle start out with their own board game club, only to find they have some stiff competition from the girls in their school. What results is an episodes that deals with modern issues of female empowerment in the usual outrageous South Park way - and it's especially sweet for those in the board/table top gaming culture.
Warning: South Park S23E7 SPOILERS Follow!
The South Park boys start a board/tabletop gaming club at school called "Dice Studz," and their primary game of choice is Dungeons & Dragons. Everything is going well in a battle with "Bug Bears" and a level 2 Druid, until two of the South Park elementary girls choose to join the club, as well. The boys (read: Cartman) looks at the girls as tourists that don't really know the genre, until the girls quickly demonstrate that not only are they aware of how to play Dungeons & Dragons - they came to win!
From there, the episode follows Cartman's attempt to spin the "Dice Studz" club into something that the female members can't hang with - but only after trying to go to the school administrator to complain about the girls' approach to gaming:
"It is unfair! It is tyrannous, and it is wrong. Ever since these girls were allowed to join Dice Studz Gamers Club, it has been a train wreck. Every single game we play they, like, figure out all the rules, and they use the rules to, like, make us look stupid... It's just that, we play board games for the theme. We want to be pirates or vikings. You know what the girls think about? The think about red cubes versus blue cubes, and how much of this equals that many victory points. They're just doing math!"
As Mr. Mackie accurately points out, in the end Cartman is really just mad that the girls are better at his games than he is. Cartman learns that lesson the hard way, as the girls at school not only beat him at every new game he tries to force them into - they eventually start their own, more extravagant gaming club, once Cartman forces the issue of gender-specific clubs.
The deeper point of the episode is pretty clear: it may use board/tabletop gaming as its vehicle, but South Park is really commenting on gamer culture as a whole, in regards to the dark undercurrent of sexism that goes with it. Ultimately, South Park's "gamer girls" end up saving the day, as they defeat a rampaging Macho Man Randy Savage in board game thrashing that has the wrestler seeing stars.
Catch South Park season 23 currently airing on Comedy Central, Wednesday nights @ 9/8c.