Last night, South Park aimed its takedown laser at “serious people” on Yelp, and it was pretty glorious. I use Yelp sometimes to find places nearby, but I always take the reviews with a grain (or a pile) of salt. A friend of mine runs a pizza place that is well reviewed by real critics and Yelpers alike, but also has a two-star review that cites only the lighting as being subpar. The f-ing lighting. I’ve seen poor reviews because there was a noisy child at the establishment. Go on Yelp right now and find any restaurant with more than a dozen reviews and you’re likely to find at least one that’s absurd.
Upon discovering this new “authority,” Cartman, of course, demands free dessert and other ridiculous things under threat of a one-star review. Gerald Broflovsky becomes convinced that he is a food-critic poet to the gods. An excerpt from Gerald’s 50-page Applebee’s review:
“…and yet there is more. For in crisp time when autumn begins to fade, the chef brines chicken in habanero, and even adds habanero powder to the crust. But the heat is restrained! You experience the fruity delicious flavor without any spicy pain. I don’t need any more pain…hell, does anyone?”
You know you’ve read reviews like this. This was hilarious, as we all know some “elite” Yelpers who take their Yelping way too seriously. Faced with a town-wide war, South Park’s restaurants settle on secretly tampering with terrible Yelpers’ food. The episode’s main point: Exposing the false power that some Yelpers believe they have is something we can all cheer for.
I could recount more of the characters’ antics, but while we’re talking about the main point, why don’t I just call out the actual guy who gave one star to a place with four stars and 1,500 reviews because they wouldn’t seat him after they closed. Or the person who gave one star to a 4.5-star restaurant with 1,600 reviews, claiming that the owner must have written all the good reviews — all 1,600 of them — because their food was expensive. There’s also the person who one-starred one of the most popular bars in NYC (4 stars and 1,000+ reviews) because they had the audacity to employ a bouncer on a Wednesday night. If you were unaware, even some of the shittiest bars have guys checking IDs outside on weeknights. This is a standard thing and, if you hadn’t heard, also the law.
Once more, the South Park creators point out human beings’ terrible behavior with refreshing clarity: “If you do this, you are basically Cartman, and now is the time to stop.” And while I clearly find the antics of those Yelpers personally hilarious, people whose livelihoods can be affected by some entitled douche aren’t laughing. Unless, of course, they’re watching last night’s very satisfying takedown.