I haven’t been a regular “South Park” viewer in a long time, but I happened to catch last night’s mid-season finale – which many people on Twitter said felt like a series finale – and I have some quick thoughts on it and the state of the show coming up just as soon as I save those britches…
So, yes, if I didn’t know there would be another 7 episodes of this 15th season, I would very much wonder if “You’re Getting Old” was Trey and Matt’s way of saying goodbye. Both the Stan and Randy Marsh storylines were all about getting older, getting sick of the same-old, same-old, with a lot of commentary on how repetitive “South Park” itself is.
Of course, it’s been 15 years, which is a long time for a show that made a name for itself being shocking and subversive. Of course it’s going to repeat itself. But you could get the sense watching it that Trey and Matt – who have had some success in the movies, and now have a runaway Broadway hit in “Book of Mormon” – have gotten tired of the whole thing.
Because of the way “South Park” episodes are written on the fly in the days leading up to each airing, it’s entirely possible that the guys were just in a dark place this week, and that when they regroup for the back half of season 15, they’ll feel re-energized. It’s even possible that the idea of such a serious close to the episode – with the Marshes splitting up, Stan being rejected by his friends and Kyle and Cartman finally seeming to enjoy each other’s company – was actually a sign that they’re already feeling excited about the show, and that they want to see if they can really shake things up instead of hitting the weekly reset button that Randy and Sharon were complaining about. Or it could be that we’ll return in a few months with the Marshes back together, Kyle and Cartman hating each other, everyone acting like this never happened, and the show moving onto a new celebrity target.
But what was interesting about Stan’s existential crisis, and how he struggled to like anything, is that the show’s philosophy has often largely been about how other people care too much about things, and that many of our big problems and scandals would go away if everyone could just relax and feel less passionate. Yet here, Stan’s lack of passion – and the Marsh parents’ – was clearly shown to be a bad thing for them. And that could be the biggest signal of all that the guys are feeling like they’re close to the end, or, again, it could signal a move into a different, maybe more mature era of the show.
Then again, given how the episode chose to depict Stan’s view of the world, maybe “mature” isn’t the right word – nor the kind of tone that “South Park” fans, even 15 years in, would want.
What did everybody else think? Did “You’re Getting Old” feel like a signpost towards the end of the series? And, if it winds up going away in the next year or so, are you ready to say goodbye?