The final episode of the 17th season of South Park, entitled "The Hobbit," tried to feature a positive message about body image and superficiality, but it will be remembered for the return of Kanye West. Fake Kanye West, of course.
When Wendy tries to convince Butters that his celebrity crush, Kim Kardashian, would be nothing but a short, hairy hobbit without the help of Photoshop, West shows up to South Park Elementary to dispel the rumors that his fiancée is, in fact, a hobbit. He also tries to squash the rumors that he’s Aquaman, which is hard to do when he’s dressed exactly like DC’s nautical hero.
Unfortunately for Kanye, all of the evidence he comes across points towards Kim’s hobbit heritage. She lives underground. She smokes a pipe. She hunts dragons. The evidence is all there. This leads to Kanye traveling the globe to dispel the hobbit rumors, even going so far as to interrupt Pope Francis while he's receiving his Time "Person of the Year" award. (Get it? He's interrupting someone! Hilarious.)
Kanye may be the reason why this episode will have everyone talking, but he’s hardly focus. The plot really fixates around Wendy’s issues with a fellow cheerleader named Lisa, who becomes the object of everyone’s affection after the boys see a Photoshopped photo of her. This leads the entire cheer team to pump out digitized pictures of themselves, leaving Wendy left to moralize about the dangers of our superficial society. (She doesn't talk about the patriarchy, which is where the show demonstrates it's real interests.)
There's a message buried somewhere about the way celebrities provide us with unrealistic standards of beauty, but much of this gets lost in a Kanye sub-plot that seems shoehorned in for the sole purpose of getting people talking on social media. You can imagine the South Park team hoping that Kanye will take to Twitter and call them out. It feels a little desparate.
Though much of the humor in the episode doesn’t quite land, the music video Kanye records for a song called “My Girl Ain’t No Hobbit” is an easy highlight. But the running gag of Kanye continuously calling Kim to make sure she’s not a hobbit is tedious.
The two plots finally converge towards the end when Kanye pulls up a chair next to Wendy while she’s trying to sleep and reads a fairy tale about a little hobbit who achieves her dreams of superstardom through Photoshop. Got it.