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Recap / South Park S 16 E 2 Cash For Gold

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As the Marsh family visit Randy's father Marvin in the Looming Sunset retirement home, he gives Stan a gift: a bolo tie with a gold, turquoise, and diamond clasp. Randy is horrified to hear that Marvin spent $6,000 on the bolo tie; Stan is just horrified at how ugly it is, an opinion shared by Cartman (who describes it as "fucking gay as fuck"), Kyle, and Kenny. Kyle suggests he sell the tie at a "Cash for Gold" store to recover some of the money his grandfather spent, but he is offered $15 at the first store - and this turns out to be the highest offer he gets. They discover that Marvin is one of many victims of the J&G Shopping Network, whose business model involves selling grossly overpriced, garishly ugly jewelry to senior citizens, who then give them to their families as gifts. Stan is outraged, especially when he hears his grandfather calling in again, but his outrage turns to sadness when a conversation with Marvin turns to the subject of his beloved border collie, Patches, and how Marvin can't remember what she looked like. Now out for revenge on Marvin's behalf, Stan calls Dean, the pitchman for the J&G network, and tells him to kill himself.

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By contrast, Cartman is inspired by the idea of buying ugly jewelry cheap and re-selling it at vastly inflated prices, and recruits Butters as a sign spinner for his own "Cash for Gold"/cable shopping network scam. He buys a tacky ring from Leroy for $3 and sells it to an old woman for $79.95, while taunting her about how she likes to "fuck" little boys by buying jewelry at such "discount" prices. But he struggles to get the supply to meet demand, so he goes to a jewelry store staffed by stereotypical Asian women to buy cheap jewelry to resell at a profit... whereupon they ask him if he likes "fucking" his suppliers by buying jewelry for prices far below market value.

The two subplots re-convene at an India Manufacturing, Inc. jewelry factory as Cartman decides to buy jewelry direct from the source, while Stan, Kyle, and Kenny are trying to pin down the ultimate source of the scam that has taken in Marvin and so many other senior citizens. One of the child laborers at the factory proceeds to show Stan the cycle that has ensnared his grandfather: the factory makes ugly jewelry using cheap labor and materials, which the J&G Shopping Network sells at a huge markup to gullible seniors, who then give the jewelry as gifts to their families, who discreetly get rid of them by selling them for pennies on the dollar to "Cash for Gold" merchants, who pass them on to gold smelters, who send the raw materials back to the factory for the cycle to begin anew. Stan is consoled by the child laborer's gift of a gold and jewel-encrusted photo frame, into which he puts a picture of Patches as a gift for Marvin. His grandfather is delighted... and tells Stan that his bolo tie, which he no longer remembers giving him, is "fucking gay as fuck" (echoing Cartman's description), finally giving Stan an excuse to stop wearing it.

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Meanwhile, J&G pitchman Dean is getting more and more calls from senior citizens repeating Stan's dare that he should kill himself, until he finally pulls out a gun and blows his brains out all over the carousel of overpriced, tacky jewelry.


Tropes:

  • Artistic License – History: In-universe, the bolo tie Marvin gives Stan is passed off as a replica of a bolo tie worn by King Henry V of England... who died in 1422, whereas the bolo tie is believed to have been invented in the 1940s.
  • Asshole Victim: Dean, the shopping network host, gets a very bitter end: while Stan's threatening advice didn't work before when he told him to go kill himself, at the end of the episode three different elderly people phoned him, saying that Stan was right and that he should kill himself and they even go as so far to egg him on. This results in him saying that this incident is "the straw that broke the camel's back". He ends up going through with it after being insulted way too many times. After preying on the vulnerable elderly (a few of whom have Alzheimer's) for so long, it was well deserved.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
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    • After snarking that Mrs. Appleby must like fucking little boys after she bought a gaudy ring from him for $79.95 (never mind that he only paid $3 for it), Cartman congratulates himself on his acting, and says he should win an award. Cut to a shot of an Oscar... that is being melted down by a gold smelter, not awarded to Cartman.
    • Randy tells Marvin he shouldn't be spending money on frivolous things...mainly because Marvin should be saving that money to leave to the family when he dies.
  • Beware of the Nice Ones: As pleasant as Stan is in most seasons, swindling from his grandfather is actually a perfect way to get on his bad side. Especially the when he cares about both friends and family, even going as so far to telling the shopping network host to flat out kill himself.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dean shoots himself after being receiving constant messages from elderly people telling him to do so.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Stan berates the child workers at India Manufacturing, Inc. for "exploiting" their "less fortunate" American customers with their tacky products. It never occurs to him that perhaps the child workers are being exploited by being forced to work long hours for very little money so that the manufacturer can save on labor costs.
  • Rule of Three: In a spoof of the increasing proliferation of "Cash for Gold" merchants, the third store at which Stan and his friends try to sell the bolo tie is a Taco Bell that doubles as a "Cash for Gold" store. Stan is offered a seven-layer burrito for the tie.
  • Suicide Dare: Stan does this to Dean but it didn't really work until three elderly people joined in, in which case, he did.
  • Take That!: When Stan, Kyle, and Kenny visit the gold smelter to determine who is responsible for scamming Marvin out of a fortune, one of the items being melted down is Sean Penn's Best Actor Oscar for Milk. Evidently, Trey and Matt are still angry over Penn's infamous letter over his portrayal in Team America: World Police.

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