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Recap / South Park S 25 E 3 City People

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Original air date: 2/16/2022 (produced in 2021)

After his mother gets a new job as a real estate agent, Cartman decides to get into the business for himself.

Tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • Don't bite the hand that feeds you.
    • If you coddle your children, they won't have the independence they need to live without you.
  • Attention Whore: Cartman is willing to sabotage his own mother's career and put them on the street just so she can pay all of her attention towards him.
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  • Bait-and-Switch: When Cartman starts his own real estate agency, it seems that he is trying to make money off the market. However, it's soon revealed that Cartman doesn't have a real estate license so he can't make money and his actual reasons are to make his mom quit her job so he can have all of her attention to himself.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Cartman finally gets his mother to quit so that she can continue to take care of him. However, with no way to pay the house rent, they end up losing it and are forced to move into a cramped hot dog stand.
  • Bookends: The episode begins and ends with Cartman having condiments all over his face (Nutella at the beginning and ketchup at the end).
  • Broken Pedestal: Cartman's actions in the episode end up severely and possibly irrevocably damaging his relationship with his mother.
  • Call-Back:
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    • The Coney Island Hot Dog stand previously made a minor cameo in the intro for the unaired version of the show's pilot many years earlier, although it looked different and not as detailed back then.
    • Eric tries selling the Blacks' old house, noting they had just moved to a farm in the last episode.
  • Call-Forward: Liane saying that her reasons for getting a new job being so that they don't end up homeless is one towards South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid where Cartman becomes a hobo in the future. Whether or not this connects to that outcome is yet to be seen, though it is evidenced here that, in spite of his capability for elaborate and profitable schemes, Cartman's petty selfishness overrides any logic to maintain a basic livelihood for himself.
  • Cassandra Truth: Cartman ignores all of Liane's warnings that she needs to take a job to keep a roof over their heads. It takes them moving into a hot dog stand for Cartman to realize she wasn't bluffing and his scheme has just ended up screwing himself.
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  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Cartman and Liane settle their fight while being shot at by the city council.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Coney Island Hot Dog stand that is being advertised at South Park Realtors is later used as the place where Liane and Cartman ultimately move after losing their house.
  • Continuity Nod: One of the rooms shown by Cartman is Clyde's bathroom, calling back to when Clyde accidentally got his mother killed in "Reverse Cowgirl".
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": Happens to all of the South Park realtors as they take new pictures of themselves with an exaggerated leaning backward pose.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Even if his sales tactics would have fallen flat on its face detailed in Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, Cartman still showcases impressive skills as an advertiser, with appropriate music, shot composition, and graphic design while all the South Park Realtors can do is lean further back and directly rip off the commercial with a lot of the exact same shots and music. If Cartman was willing to help his mom with sales, rather than sabotage her, he would not only help get more money, but she could get rich enough to spend time with him.
  • Death Glare: At the end of the episode, Liane is giving this to Cartman, noting her displeasure with him causing them to lose their house.
  • Didn't Think This Through: By refusing to listen to his mother and continuing to sabotage her career, Cartman never thinks about the fact that they'll lose their house as a result of being unable to afford the rent until it is too late and they are forced to move into a cramped hot dog stand.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Downplayed, but by the end, after Eric's selfish antics lose them their home, Liane makes her feelings clear with a very cold Death Glare. Cartman for once is quite meek, seemingly realizing he's meeting the end of his mother's patience.
  • Downer Ending: With no way to pay the house rent, Cartman and Liane lose their home and move to an old hot dog stand as their new home. What's worse, their relationship is badly damaged, if not outright broken, as Eric's the reason they're there in the first place.
  • Evil Is Petty: Cartman makes his mom's life a living hell (even more so than before) just so that she'll quit her job and take care of him again.
  • Fatal Flaw: Cartman's narcissistic need for attention drives him to ruin both himself and his mom.
  • Fat Slob: Cartman, of course. He makes his debut in the episode playing with his iPad while using his hands to eat chocolate Nutella right out of the jar. Naturally, he is filthy and uses the excuse his mom wasn't home to make him a snack, but it seems like something he'd do regardless.
  • Foreshadowing: The real-estate agents present the Coney Island Hot Dog stand as one of their homes up for sale. It ends up being where Cartman and Liane move into when they lose their house.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Justified. Turns out Liane doesn't actually own the Cartmans' house, she just rents it from the actual owner. Furthermore, now the greater demand for real estate in the area is causing their rent to increase to match the market rate so she needs to get a new job to pay it.
  • Futureshadowing: Cartman and Liane losing their house and moving into a small and filthy hot dog stand alludes to the future at the end of South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid, where Cartman will end up homeless, a fate that Liane was telling Cartman about if he continued to sabotage her.
  • Horrible Housing: The hot dog stand where Cartman and Liane end up moving is dirty and barely has any room for all the items they brought from their old home.
  • Internal Deconstruction: The episode serves as this for Liane's coddling of Cartman. For the most part, Liane's indulgence of Cartman hasn't had massive consequences, aside from the fleeting moments where Liane puts her foot down. This time, his need for her attention and coddling leads him to sabotage her career prospects. Not only does this end with both of them in the (literal) poor house, it is clear that Liane is losing patience being damage control for her son.
  • It's All About Me: Cartman was already a massive Attention Whore and Narcissist thanks to Liane spoiling him rotten, but this attitude reaches its zenith in this episode; he only cares that Liane won't be around to take care of him due to her new job, going to as far as to say that HE is her job and refusing to listen when she says she needs it so they don't lose their house.
  • I Warned You: Liane keeps warning Cartman that if he continues to sabotage her career, she'll be fired and they'll lose the house. Sure enough, after Liane quits her job by Cartman's prodding, they lose their house and are forced to move into a hot dog stand. All Liane can do is glare at her son as it dawns to him that he Didn't Think This Through.
  • Laborious Laziness: IN SPADES. Cartman is willing to go to the trouble of starting a rival real estate business (that mainly failed because Cartman's too young to own a real estate licence and there's a lot more paperwork involved than he realizes, rather than because he couldn't make it as a real estate agent if he tried) to get his mother out of her job...so she can take care of him 24/7.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Cartman and Liane are forced to live in an old hot dog stand after he makes her quit the real estate agency. When Cartman tries to deflect the tension away from himself, he is sprayed by a condiment dispenser, shutting him up.
    • Throughout the series, Cartman has mocked Kenny for being poor and living in a crappy home, only for Cartman himself to end up living in a crappier home and is now arguably considered to be poorer than Kenny, especially since his mother is now unemployed.
    • Then there's his fate in South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid where Cartman becomes homeless, and his actions here brings him one step closer to that future. The fact that he's all alone in the future heavily implies that this caused his relationship with Liane to disintegrate. This is evidenced when she refuses to talk to Cartman in their new "home", showing he may no longer get the attention he so craves from her.
    • In a sense, Liane herself. Her endless coddling of Cartman and her sabotage of his own growth towards independence because of her desperation for friendship and company caused him to become so codependent on her in the first place.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Cartman has this reaction in the end when he realizes that by forcing his mother to quit her job, they lose their house and are forced to live in a hot dog stand.
  • New Job Episode: Because of the increase in housing prices, Liane gets a job as a real estate agent so she can afford to pay the rent.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Cartman and Liane lose their home for good, and given that Liane proceeds to give Cartman the Silent Treatment at the end, it's implied that their relationship is now irrevocably damaged by what he's done.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: While Cartman successfully forces Liane to quit her job as a real estate agent, he ultimately ends up being forced to move to a crappier home in a hot dog stand and ruins his relationship with his mother.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Butters is quick to think Cartman's issue with his mother getting a job is she won't have time for him. This is right, but not for the reasons Butters thinks. Rather than feeling lonely without his mother, Cartman is more concerned with not having her around to dote on him all the time and avoid needing to care for himself.
  • Shout-Out: The city people flocking in droves and their behavior is a clear one towards the seagulls from Finding Nemo.
  • Silent Treatment: At the end of the episode, at the hot dog stand, Liane gives Cartman the silent treatment, resenting him for forcing her into quitting her job and losing their nicer and bigger home.
  • Stupid Evil: Had Cartman not tried to sabotage his mom's career, they would not have lost their house and his relationship with her wouldn't be so estranged as it was in the end. This is after Liane repeatedly tried explaining that fact to him.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The rising number of people moving to Colorado has caused real estate prices in South Park to increase. Thus, Liane needs a new job to be able to afford the rent.
    • During the climax, Liane explains to Eric that while he may have high bids on properties, they don't match the market value and won't get through escrow. We don't see this happen, but it's an accurate description of why Cartman's ideas aren't feasible.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Butters is completely right when he claims Cartman is worried that, now his mother is working, she won't be at home to look after him. Cartman just lies and becomes a real estate agent under the pretense of Liane being an idiot and that anyone can do it. In reality, he's planning to screw her over so that she'll quit and go back to taking care of him.
  • Take That!:
    • Selling real estate is depicted as needing zero skills, just an appealing, friendly profile picture. Also, the agents just lie to customers when they are unsure or know something the customer wants isn't available in order to make a sale.
    • The city folk are mocked for their overtly liberal stances and speak almost exclusively in one word questions i.e. "Wi-fi?" "Pilates?", almost making them sound like that one SNL sketch. They are also stealth insulted by Tuong Lu Kim's accent, calling them and their culture "shitty" (note how he pronounces "city" correctly to refer to South Park but uses "shitty" when he refers to the city folk).
  • Tempting Fate: After sabotaging Liane leaves them stuck in a hot dog shack, Cartman, seemingly noticing Liane isn't happy with him, meekly insists the place is fine and they have all the resources they need, before getting squirted by a condiment dispenser. He promptly gives up and joins Liane in moping.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Despite the circumstances, Cartman tries to downplay the fact he and his mother lost their house and now live in a hot dog stand. He, at last, finally realizes how bad things are when he's sprayed in the face with mustard and ketchup, joining his mother to mope on their couch.
    Cartman: Weak... I live in a hot dog.
  • Tranquil Fury: Liane behaves this way toward her son once they end up in the hot dog stand. She gives her son the Silent Treatment and looks away from him with very piercing quiet.
  • The Unreveal: Despite being cheap enough for Liane to afford, we never find out just how much the abandoned hot dog shack actually cost.
  • Villain Protagonist: Cartman is the protagonist here. He drives the plot by sabotaging his mother's career, while the other three main characters are absent from this episode.
  • Wham Episode: Cartman's selfish dependence on his mother sabotages her new career and forces them out of their house and into an abandoned hot dog shack. Given the show's adherence to seasonal or longer continuity, they are likely there for the foreseeable future. In addition, it's implied that Liane has now lost a lot of her positive feelings for Cartman for what he's done, likely setting the path to Cartman being alone in the future.
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