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Recap / South Park S10 E7 "Tsst"

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Original air date: 5/3/2006

Cartman's mom calls upon famed dog trainer Cesar Millan to keep her son from misbehaving after several TV nannies go insane from Cartman's manipulative ways.

Tropes present

  • An Aesop: If you want to change your child's behavior, it is not enough to discipline them once, or a few times, and leave it at that. You have to keep doing it in order for the preferred behavior to stick.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Cartman runs away from home and tries to persuade Jimmy to let him stay at his house, claiming that they're best friends. Jimmy only responds with "What's my last name?". Cartman can't answer the question and storms off in a huff.
  • Attention Whore: Exploited; Cesar asserts dominance over Cartman by talking to Liane instead of him and behaving as if he's not there.
    Cesar: See, I'm not looking at the child, I'm not acknowledging the child, I'm just letting the child know I'm not interested in him.
    Cartman: Not interested in me?
    Cesar: See, the child thinks your world revolves around him, because it does. Because everything he does gets a response from you.
  • Babysitter's Nightmare: Several nannies are hired for the nigh-impossible task of taming Cartman, all to no avail. He even breaks Supernanny, causing her to become institutionalized while she eats her own shit.
    "It's from Hell... It's from Heeeeeell!"
  • Bad Black Barf: Coming to the realization that the world doesn't revolve around him causes Cartman to puke out his own evil onto the floor in the form of a black puddle.
  • Belated Child Discipline: Liane tries to finally set Cartman straight by calling in various experts. While the television nannies end up failing dramatically, dog whisperer Cesar Milan manages to succeed by applying his canine training methods on Cartman. This causes Cartman to realize what a Spoiled Brat he's been and changes his ways for the better. Unfortunately, it doesn't take since Liane realizes that besides Cartman she doesn't have anybody in her life, so she starts to spoil her son again.
  • Character Development: Due to Cesar Millan's training methods, Cartman is forced to evaluate his own behavior when he can't manipulate his mom anymore. He makes a decision that he must kill his mom because that is the only way to get control back, but ends up having a Battle in the Center of the Mind where the evil inside him is purged. Cartman then becomes a well behaved, studious, independent child who respects his mother and loses weight. His mother then realizes she is co-dependent on him to keep her company, and thus she just drove away her only friend. Once Cesar Millan leaves she starts bribing him with junk food and random toys to go to events with her, with the implication that he will just return to the way he used to be.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Subverted. Cartman apologizes for handcuffing another student's leg to a flagpole, but doesn't mention that that was just one small part of the Saw-style torture device it was all a part of.
  • Consummate Professional: While Cesar Millan is able to help Liane control Cartman and earn her adoration, he ultimately considers this just another job and leaves when everything's settled. Unfortunately this allows Cartman to bend her to his will once again.
  • Cultural Translation: In the original version, Cartman sings "Don't Stop Believing" as he goes to get his Xbox. The Latin American dub changes it to "La Camisa Negra" by Juanes.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Cartman only attacks his mother for trying to change his personality. At no point does he consider she's only using the advice Cesar is giving her, and thus the best way to get her to stop is by getting him out of the way.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Why does Cartman put Billy Turner through a Saw-style torture device? Because he called Cartman "chubby." In a rare instance of competence, the adults finally decide that this is The Last Straw with Cartman.
    • Cartman attacks his mom and attempts to kill her for simply following Cesar's advice. At no point does he realize the best way to get her to stop would be to get rid of Cesar. Even when he expresses frustration that Cesar is still around after he runs away, it still doesn't cross his mind she only started when he came into the picture. For such a Wise Beyond His Years character (who earlier that episode had sent a nanny to the psych ward within just 3 days), it does seem a rather stunning lapse in judgement that he never puts two and two together.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Cesar asserts dominance over Cartman by eating KFC, his favorite food, in front of him, then having Liane do the same.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Killing his mother is the one thing Cartman can't bring himself to do.
  • Fiction Isn't Fair: While Cartman unequivocally needed a counselor, he would've also been expelled for such a stunt and had a restraining order taken out on him by Billy Turner.
  • Freudian Excuse: This episode reveals that Liane refuses to discipline Cartman because she doesn't have any friends, her son being the only person willing to hang out with her.
  • Gilligan Cut: Supernanny promises that Cartman will be a whole new person in just a few days. Cut to Supernanny in an insane asylum.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • Played for laughs when a group of television nannies try to correct Cartman's bad behavior before realizing what he is and giving up. Supernanny is the last one to attempt it. Within three days she's confined to a psychiatric hospital where she spends most of her time eating her own excrement and sobbing uncontrollably while screaming "From Hell! It's from Hell!".
    • Almost happens to Cartman himself. He considers for just a brief moment that maybe the world doesn't revolve around him. The mere thought almost breaks his mind.
  • Humiliation Conga: Cartman suffers this big time, getting treated like a dog and being denied Kentucky Fried Chicken as while his mother and Cesar get to eat it right in front of (or above) him as he barks and jumps up and down desperately trying to get some for himself.
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Cartman does not like the healthy meal and the fun-sized Snickers bar that his mother serves as part of Cesar's training.
    Cartman: What the hell is this?! Skinless chicken, boiled vegetables and salad?! This is just like Auschwitz!
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: It's what drives Liane to enable her son's horrible behavior, as she's lonely without him otherwise.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Cesar Millan starts referring to Cartman as merely "it" a few times while disciplining him.
  • It's All About Me: Cartman, as per usual. The difference is that after being subjected to Cesar Millan's training, he suddenly thinks for a brief moment that maybe the world doesn't revolve around him. The thought almost causes him to Go Mad from the Revelation.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By the end of the episode, Cartman is basically "fixed" and is now a well-mannered little boy, but all it takes is Liane promising to buy him toys and fast food if he spends time with her for the whole thing to come crashing down.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever Cartman does to Super Nanny for her to be locked away in an insane asylum where she eats her own feces. Considering that all the other nannies merely got fed up with Cartman's behavior and left (and that Super Nanny is supposed to succeed where other nannies have failed), what he did is probably best left to the audience's imagination.
    • Apparently Butters kept bringing homeless people into his house until his parents had to order him to stop.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: At the very end, as Cartman smiles in evil triumph.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: In the middle of his Villainous BSoD, Cartman starts glitching and distorting until he faints.
  • Reset Button Ending: A distraught Liane ends up undoing Cartman's treatment during the climax of the episode.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never find out what Cartman did to Supernanny that ended with her being locked in an insane asylum, sobbing and eating her own shit out of a toilet.
  • Shout-Out
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The first nanny deems Cartman to be Beyond Redemption after he makes fun of her for not having any children of her own and walks away angrily (and it's implied that several other nannies did the same).
  • Shown Their Work: In his review of the episode, the real-life Cesar Millan commented that the writers perfectly captured his methods and that they'd clearly watched several episodes of his show to prepare. Indeed, Matt Stone, himself a dog owner, said the idea for the episode came from his own love of Millan's show and his belief that Millan's methods would work on a child as well as they would a dog. Trey Parker admits in the DVD Commentary that The Dog Whisperer is the only show on television that can make him cry.
  • Smart Ball: What ALL of the other kids are like this episode. None of them bought in Cartman's usually manipulation tactics, not even Butters falls for it.
  • The Spock: Caesar Millan is treated as The Stoic and Consummate Professional, treating everyone inaffectionately like clients or animals. While this works keeping him immune to Cartman's behaviour, all his progress is ultimately blown in the end after he very bluntly turns down a date with Liane and matter-of-factly tells her he doesn't care about her, completely oblivious to breaking her heart and making her feel emotionally dependent on her son again.
  • Stealth Pun: Cartman being treated as a dog being the only way to discipline him is likely a subtle way of showing that he is a son of a bitch.
    • The Shout-Out to Altered States shows Cartman distorting in and out, the layers of his flesh being briefly torn off in one of the glitches, all while trying to cling onto a wall. While the scene in question from the original film was merely part of the protagonist's hullicinations, Cartman's epiphany is literally making his skin crawl.
  • Take That!: To people who have children just so they can have friends and, to a lesser extent, people who claim to be friends with their parents.
  • Title Drop: "Tsst" is an onomatopoeic spelling for the sound made off of Cesar Milan nipping at Cartman's neck with two fingers.
  • Villainous BSoD: Cartman has one when he finally approaches the possibility that maybe the world doesn't revolve around him, beginning with him purging his evil in the form of Bad Black Barf and climaxing with him almost literally blue-screening as if he were a computer program by flashing in a bunch of 32-bit colors a la Altered States.
  • Write What You Know: The little kid skating in spaghetti during the intro for Nanny 911 is based on an incident Matt Stone witnessed involving a child of his friend.