|Episode no.||Season 21|
|Original airdate||October 11, 2017|
|List of all South Park episodes|
Plot details follow.
The Coon and Friends have reassembled, and hold auditions for another new member following Iron Maiden's retirement, and Mint-Berry Crunch's sudden disappearance. The episode begins with Jimmy Valmer auditioning as Fastpass, and is ultimately inducted into their team. Later in the episode, it is shown to the audience that the Coon and Friends are planning to launch a superhero franchise starting with an original Netflix series for their "Coon and Friends" alter egos. However, they are slandered with fake news spread online through Facebook that damages their reputations.
During a phone call, Netflix tells Cartman they cannot greenlight their new series until they address the stories about them on Facebook. Butters, assuming the role of his villainous alter ego, Professor Chaos, is behind the scheme to spread lies, and refuses to stop even when the boys ask him face to face. He even goes as far as to start an entire company dedicated to using Facebook to spread fake news about people. The adults of South Park read the fake stories and believe that the site is problematic for sharing them. They hold a meeting and decide to invite it's chairman Mark Zuckerberg to town so he can provide insight on the matter. During his speech, he does not address peoples' concerns and instead annoys them by pretending to deflect their attempts to "block" him.
Zuckerberg continues to irritate the townspeople by invading their homes, riding in their vehicles, as well as eating their food. They complain to the police about his behavior, but Sergeant Yates insists that they cannot interfere with Zuckerberg's actions when he never breaks the law. Meanwhile, the boys learn that Butters has paid Zuckerberg to protect him and that they cannot remove the fake stories about them from Facebook on their own. Cartman then plans to trick Zuckerberg into betraying Butters. He and the other boys attack him in front of the other townspeople, who cheer them on after Zuckerberg's invasions.
Cartman complains to them that Zuckerberg was trying to stop the children from promoting justice for black people, handicapped people, and Jewish people. Zuckerberg insists otherwise, but Cartman tells him "Facebook says it's true" and reveals to him that the entire fight had been recorded live on Facebook by Super Craig. He panics and shuts down the site to prevent the video from being spread further, ending Butters' scheme for spreading fake news. When Stephen finds out about his scheme, he drags him to Moscow to punish both Butters and Vladimir Putin, for giving him the idea in the first place, and grounds both of them. The boys are now able to proceed with their series plan, but then split up over a dispute over differences in franchise plans.
AV Club gave "Franchise Prequel" a "C+" rating saying: "This resolution suffers from the same kind of specificity and extremeness as Zuckerberg’s characterization. This is Cartman we’re talking about. When it comes to defamatory fake news about Zuckerberg, couldn’t he have come up with something less generic? Something more pointed and cringe-inducing? Something more South Park?"
IGN gave "Franchise Prequel" a "8.0" rating saying: "While not the strongest episode of the season so far, "Franchise Prequel" serves as an enjoyable lead-in to The Fractured But Whole while also lampooning recent Facebook controversies. This episode could have done a little more with its Mark Zuckerberg parody. However, the return of Professor Chaos, the scathing critique of fake news and the adults who read it and the terrific ending more than made up for any problems."
- "Franchise Prequel (Season 21, Episode 04)". southparkstudios.com.
- "AV Club: South Park's "Franchise Prequel" is a decent video game commercial—and that's about it". AV Club.com.
- "South Park: "Franchise Prequel" Review". IGN.com.