Trey Parker and Matt Stone probably haven't been that open in the last ten years...
This is not an episode, this is a message!
If you consider this and watch it again, it turns out very clearly. The makers of this show made a big statement: "Hey, guess what, we just came to terms with the fact that for some time now we've been cheating on our fans (and on ourselves) - we evolved something that was great into something sh**ty!" - I believe this is one of the greatest moves cartoon-show-creators have ever made. These 20 minutes are packed with metaphors and statements that are so unusual for South Park - already 5 minutes into the episode I knew something was wrong, odd, different... But in the end I smiled and was so thankful for this revelation.
Over the years I was seriously wondering where South Park was going - the topics got repetitive - the average episode quality dramatically sunk starting with season 8 - humor was largely based on aggressive American slapstick rather than the original black (british) sarcastic humor - it became almost entirely dependent on current issues in the world - the exaggerated topics left the makers no "air" to slow down again - it mostly revolved around conspiracy, stereotypes, trends or stupid celebrities - the "points to prove" became either increasingly absurd or too theatrical - the sequential dramaturgy of each episode became almost identical after season 10 - I could go on...
Until season 4 South Park is absolutely timeless, fresh, cheeky, honest and original. Until season 7 it became more sadistic, sociopolitical and versatile. Season 7 itself confirmed the routine that was starting to take action. Up from season 8 you can clearly observe certain "side topics" Matt & Trey may have experienced during their childhood - but the main concerns have already been used. So the only way to get the show going now was to weave the setting together with things happening at that time in the real world. So it became like a "Saturday Night Let's review the past 7 days in a comedic comment"-show that almost cried out to be forgotten when its successor aired. In fact I can hardly quote any statement made from now on... It kinda became sh**ty... Season 9 finally confirmed the new destination: mainstream!
Like Randy said - I've been unhappy for a long time - So have I been. I think this isn't about growing old within the heads of Matt & Trey, it's more about the self-pressure of topping themselves after each episode in a paradigm that they didn't want to have created in the first place. That's why this episode is so "asymmetrical" for a routine South Park one.
Damned, I should get to and end with this. In conclusion: I interpret this as a cry for help. They're stuck in something they obviously can't get out of anymore. Are they growing old? No, they are getting wise. Someone once said "You realized you've become mature after you stopped educating your parents (-> audience)" - perhaps the tranquilizing remedy for this.....is cynicism. I seriously can't wait what's going to be next, and even if it was the end of the whole show, I would be satisfied. Thanks Matt & Trey for this confession!
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