A Brief Rumination on South Park

I have no desire to ever review ‘South Park.’ And I don’t mean that in some uppity Parents Television Council kind of way, but instead because I consider the show to be unreviewable by me for reasons I don’t fully understand. I watch the show every week and have almost every year since it started. My very first piece of published writing was an editorial on why people should watch the show the week after the season premiere. It’s cuh-razy because the little kids say the swears! Actually scratch that. I got a poem published as the prelude to a book when I was 8. Suck it, struggling writers; I think my parents congratulated me with a trip to Golden Corral.

Still, as I watched the conclusion of the excellent, “The Coon and Friends” trilogy, I started thinking about the show and what I liked about it. I might be one of the world’s most immature 29 year-olds, but I also know I won’t laugh at any old thing set in front of me. In other words, when I went to that Golden Corral buffet, I didn’t just take one of everything, I left the carrots on the hot plate. Once I started thinking, I realized that what I like about ‘South Park’ is that I can fool myself into thinking that it’s matured with me.

Have you ever gone back and watched early episodes? It’s kind of painful. The animation is a lot worse and the cussing really is half of the jokes. Everything worked because, before then, it had never been done. Back then, saying things like, “oh my god, they killed Kenny,” or, “respect my authori-TAH” was earth-shattering. Oddly enough, this is where my admiration for Trey Parker and Matt Stone comes into play. They saw the limitations of what they were doing and kept an eye on making movies and longer story arcs. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was really well put-together and filled with great, catchy songs. They had already done the wheels-off Orgazmo and fired off BASEketball while the show was in its infancy. Each movie was a strong leap from the one before it, but nobody would have put any money on them perfecting high-concept silliness.

With the dawn of the new millennium, Parker and Stone began thinking bigger for the show. We saw multi-part episodes, Mr. Hanky, Towelie and the wonderful comeuppance of Scott Tenorman. At the same time, they became more self aware with episodes like, “Simpsons Already Did It,” and, “Trapped in the Closet.” Then, Trey and Matt unleashed, Team America: World Police in 2004 and made me happy and ronery all at the same time. I consider this a milestone because since then, many of my favorite episodes seemed to have perfected that balance of ‘South Park’ silliness and a more complex story. “Cartoon Wars I and II” was a fantastic explanation of what is funny and pleasing to audiences, and, in addition to explaining where ‘Family Guy’ got its ideas, it also winkingly admitted that people like shows that “don’t get all preachy and up [their] own ass with messages.”

Since this episode, most of my favorites have taken the epic story-telling approach. If you haven’t seen the following episodes enjoy laughing at distasteful comedy, you really need to use the internet machine to find them:

“With Apologies to Jesse Jackson”
“D-Yikes!”
“Night of the Living Homeless”
“Imagination Land I, II and III”
“Major Boobage”
“Canada on Strike”
“About Last Night…”
“Fishsticks”
“Margaritaville”
“The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs”
“You Have 0 Friends”
“Crippled Summer”

Why am I just listing episodes? Do I have a point? What is a horse shoe? Are there any horse socks? I think Trey and Matt have grown bored with making simple episodes. The fall season opener was some throwaway crap about NASCAR that I couldn’t remember five things about if you held a gun to my head. It was no bueno. But, if you give them three episodes of space, they make a superhero story that is equal parts ridiculous and sublime. Is this the future of the show? Does this mean they are winding this down for bigger things? Comedy Central will probably pay them for as long as they want the money, but I figured I would at least kind of slap these ramblings up and see what everyone else thought. Until next time… MintberrrrryCRUNCH!!!

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