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Recap / South Park S 3 E 1 Rainforest Schmainforest

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Airdate: April 7, 1999

As punishment for disrupting class, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny are sentenced to join a travelling kids' choir called "Getting Gay with Kids," headed by a Granola Girl choir teacher named Miss Stevens (voiced by Jennifer Aniston).


"Rainforest Schmainforest" contains the following examples:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Throughout the episode, Kelly said Kenny's name wrong numerous times, calling him Johnny, Benny, Larry, and Lenny. It is implied she has trouble understanding Kenny's muffled speech.
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  • An Aesop: People who try to be environmentalists should actually visit the areas they're trying to protect instead of just blindly joining environmental groups. It may seem like a Family-Unfriendly Aesop because a lot of TV shows before South Park have always championed environmentalism and rainforest conservation, but see Real Life Writes the Plot below to find out why the writers chose to take the episode into a different direction.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The choir bus route. The map has it going southwest, crossing the Mexican border around Mexicali and then running down the Baja California peninsula. From there, it crosses the Gulf of California, drives through mainland Mexico, goes across the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatán Peninsula, and zigzags the rest of the way to San José. Going across the Gulf of California can be forgiven since there are ferries from La Paz, but there is no way a bus would be able to drive into the Gulf of Mexico. On top of that, even the most direct route from Colorado to Costa Rica would take at least week to drive.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: The demolition team, thanks to Cartman.
  • Big "NO!": Stan when his mother forces him on the choir bus.
  • Blatant Lies: Craig flips off Mr. Mackey, then denies it when he's called on it.
  • Break the Haughty: Miss Stevens starts off the episode as a pompous Granola Girl. She changes her mind about the environment after she and the kids get to experience what the rainforest is really like.
  • Character Development: Inverted: when Miss Stevens meets Cartman and says that she knows that he doesn't care about other cultures, she vows to change his mind. Through the course of the story, it's Miss Stevens who changes her attitude about the rainforest.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Miss Stevens after the humanoid tribe captures her and preps her to be sacrificed to a giant.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The snake devours the tour guide whole, kills him and shits him out dead.
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  • Green Aesop: Subverted. It is argued that the rain forest is not a pleasant place.
    Stan: All we ever heard growing up was "save the rainforest. The rainforest is fragile".
    Kyle: Yeah, fragile my ass!
  • Idiot Plot: invoked Taking a group of American children deep into unspoilt rainforest full of predators, poisonous lifeforms and territorial natives couldn't possibly go wrong, could it?
  • It's All About Me: Miss Stevens changes her opinion on the environment purely because of how harsh it was to an outsider like her, ignoring the fact that the rainforest is home to countless organisms that can't thrive anywhere else.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Everyone is forced to concede that Cartman was right about the rain forest being a terrible place.
  • Lack of Empathy: Kelly calls out Stan and Kyle's usual apathy to Kenny dying, not even trying to prevent it.
    Kelly: Well don't just stand there! Help him!
    Stan: *confused* Help? Him?
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Stan and Kyle say their catchphrase, Kelly asks "who's they?" Ironically, the catchphrase, "Oh my God, they killed Kenny"/"You bastards" is always a 4th wall break as it was revealed the line is aimed at Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as technically THEY killed Kenny.
  • Naïve Animal Lover: A Costa Rican tour guide reassures a frightened Stan that coral snakes are more scared of humans than we are of them - just before the snake attacks him, swallows him whole, and poops him out in a matter of seconds.
    Mrs. Stevens: "Jesus Christ, is he dead?!"
  • Nature Is Not Nice: The kids and their teacher find this out the hard way.
  • Off-Model: During the "Getting Gay With Kids" choir, Heidi Turner's hair color changes from black to her modern dull brown hair.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Miss Stevens attempts to keep her pro-activist attitude in spite all of the hell she and the choir class go through while lost in the rainforest, even though it's clear she's becoming more and more distressed and showing signs of snapping, such as when Cartman leaves the group. After the Yanagapa tribe attempts to present her to their giant, she loses it, and begins screaming "fuck the rainforest!" over and over.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Invoked. Trey Parker noted in the audio commentary that this episode was created after he visited the rainforest and Costa Rica as part of a "Save the Rainforest" event and absolutely hated it. Cartman's opinion that the country "smells like ass" comes directly from Parker. Shockingly, the person who talked Parker into going was Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • Reality Ensues: Instead of being a pleasant tropical paradise filled with pretty flowers, the rain-forest is actually a horrible place filled with dangerous animals, toxic plants, terrible weather conditions, savage tribes, and anti-government terrorists.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Ms. Stevens gets one from the Marxist militia leader, who rants about meddlesome Americans carelessly consuming a lot of the world's resources even while exhorting local people like his militia to save the rain forest.
    • The new lyrics to the choir's song are this to the audience, telling them that they don't know anything about the rainforest and they only fight for causes like environmentalism because it makes them look good.
  • Running Gag:
    • Kelly repeatedly failing to call Kenny by his proper name due to his being The Unintelligible.
    • Cartman smacking things in the rainforest with a stick to assert his authority until the snake that kills the tour guide gets pissed off at him and chases him away.
    • Craig's own long-running gag of flipping people off starts in this episode.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Cartman eventually does this and winds up at a logging camp, where he tells the workers that he's lost and needs food... and gets it!
  • Special Guest: Jennifer Aniston as Miss Stevens is one of the rare examples in South Park where a guest star is given a prominent role.
  • Spoof Aesop: The episode inverts and pokes fun of the usual Green Aesops that go hand in hand with rainforests in media, and describes it as a horrible thing that must be destroyed.
    "Each year, the Rainforest is responsible for over three thousand deaths from accidents, attacks or illnesses. There are over seven hundred things in the Rainforest that cause cancer. Join the fight now and help stop the Rainforest before it's too late."
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Subverted. Although Kenny does get struck my lightning, Kelly manages to resuscitate him, much to Kyle and Stan's surprise.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: While on the bus to Costa Rica, Cartman says, "And so, the nightmare begins".
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Kenny got it pretty good for an early season episode. He was the only one of the four boys who actually wanted to go with the choir, scored a girlfriend, and actually survived the episode.
  • Unishment: While Mr. Mackey forcing the boys to join the choir was intended to be a punishment for them, Kenny is actually overjoyed because it gives him the opportunity to interact with Kelly.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Act One ended with Kyle realizing that Cartman may be right about Jewish people not having any rhythm, setting up for a possible subplot in Act Two. However, this is never mentioned again and Kyle is still dancing woefully out of sync with everyone else at the end. Supplemental materialsnote  reveal Kyle was meant to come to terms with his problems (and berate Kenny at the same time) during their time spent in the rainforest. Obviously, the scene itself was taken out for the final cut, thereby leaving a mild Plot Hole.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: This episode reveals that Stan is afraid of snakes.
  • Word Schmord: It's right there in the episode title.

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