Feelin' Down in South Park - Macleans.ca

Feelin’ Down in South Park


I can’t say I really loved last night’s South Park episode, the last of the spring-summer season, but it was certainly one of the most interesting shows they’ve done in a while. Partly because it was so downbeat, leaving people arguing over whether it was a parody of sappy dramas. Much like the “Kenny Dies” episode, where the joke was that the running gag of Kenny dying was suddenly being treated very seriously, and they actually left him dead for much of the next season. It remains to be seen whether the ending of this episode will carry on over into the next batch of episodes in quite the same way, before everything goes back to status quo again. South Park usually shakes things up for a while – not only with Kenny, but Mr. Garrison – and then finds a way to reset it all eventually.

The other thing that made the episode resonate with a lot of fans of the show is that it dealt with themes that are close to a lot of people’s hearts. The episode took on the issue of facile cynicism, and how miserable it can be for the person who thinks he sees the flaws in everything. It also took on the idea that it’s not all cynicism, that sometimes things really are bad and that the cynical person (Stan in this case) really sees something wrong. It used Randy Marsh once again as the example of a person determined to keep up with every new trend and never get old and cynical, only to wind up looking like an idiot. And finally, it was about how things that used to work may really be not as good as they used to be, if they’ve been done too often.

That last scene already is creating arguments about whether this is leading up to the end of the show (probably not) and whether this is Trey Parker’s statement about being out of ideas. The last bunch of episodes have not been very good, the show has been on for over 200 episodes, and its cultural relevance is not what it was. (It seemed last season that most of the plots were based on Parker and Stone’s viewing of cable reality TV shows.) I’d be inclined to doubt that Parker and Stone really think they’re out of ideas, and the episode could just as easily be read as a take-that to people who criticize them for being out of ideas: it’s not the show, it’s just that it’s been on too long and we’ve gotten jaded.

I didn’t laugh a whole lot at the episode because of the repetitiveness of the poop jokes, which have never really been the funniest things in South Park. (Remember, the point of the Terrance & Phillip bits was to be a caricature of what people thought South Park was like: badly-drawn characters doing nothing but bodily-function humour. This episode pretty much was that for much of its length.) But it did have something interesting to say, and maybe that’s the key to a revitalized South Park: a more personal, middle-aged angsty point of view to replace the sources of story material that seem played-out. Sort of like how Peanuts spent its last few years making most of the kids act like elderly people.

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Feelin’ Down in South Park

  1. The last batch haven’t been that good????  The one a few weeks ago about college athletics was one of the best and most concise they have EVER done.  It was dead-on and hilarious.  Same with the nascar episode from last fall.  The funnt bot episode this season was hilarious too.

    Don’t confuse getting tired of a show with a show starting to suck; it’s not fair to the show.  People said the same thing about King of the Hill, that it was starting to die.  It never started dying, and was as good as it ever was when it ended.

    Sure South Park has a few clunkers, some each season that aren’t that great.  Like the royal wedding one this season.  But it is still very worthwhile.  I think the irony of last nights episode is the same as the discussion here: The show isn’t getting old, it’s audience is getting old.

    That being said, the very serious song and ending to last night’s episode was a major pube and not needed at all.

  2.     I thought it was silly and ironic, and I will never have the sight of a dogs ass spewing diarrhea out of my mind. I think the episodes have gotten much funnier over the years and I can not wait to see what else they bring to the table. I love south park 4L
      Unfortunately the Simpsons don’t really give me that effect anymore. It makes me feel like crying when I think about these things. They have lost their Simpsons charm =/

  3. Do you not see the irony? You’re saying South Park isn’t as good as it used to be; that they’re out of ideas; and that they really haven’t been making anything good anymore. That’s the exact point of the episode: people change and everyone is different. For some fans, South Park is best when it approaches really simple topics like cartoon parodies; for others it’s best when it points out the idiocy of the world we live in. Personally I think they’ve missed a few episodes, but overall the shows only gotten stronger. The episode a season or two ago about the Japanese and the dolphins was one of the best they’ve ever made. It was political, it was idiotic, it was hilarious. To me, that’s when South Park is best: when they approach the idiocy of politics and society. This episode was another great episode to me. Pointing out the idiocy of every generation thinking they have the best music and culture than the previous generation, and vice-versa. They nailed it. The ending was well done too, to me at least, I enjoyed it. But obviously to other’s they don’t like South Park when they try to be poignant and emotional. That’s okay. Everyone is different and likes shows, music, and culture for different reasons.

    • I see the likelihood that they’re trying to say that it’s not the show that’s declined, it’s just that we’ve become more jaded because it’s been on so long. That’s a point other shows have made, and I didn’t really agree with it either.

  4. I dearly hope that whatever has caused Comedy Network to no longer have the rights to show episodes on their website anymore gets cleared up. I’m feeling very out-of-the-loop since the new season started, and South Park is one of the only shows I find to be worth following religiously.