Critical Fanmail II: South Park

Dear Trey Parker,

Two laughs in a 22-minute episode. That’s embarrassing for a show that once was the greatest animated sitcom on the face of the planet. And they weren’t even belly laughs like the ones I used to have back when the show just started. Or even back in the days of “I’m not just sure, I’m HIV positive”. Let’s be honest, ‘South Park’ has been in a downward spiral for a while. The most recent season I own on DVD is the fourteenth – hit and miss, but with a few true gems – and I have no intention of acquiring any of the more recent ones. My days of eagerly awaiting a new ‘South Park’ episode are over.

Deep down inside, I would like to say that you couldn’t have lost it. My initial reaction was that you just don’t care anymore. But anyone who has seen the documentary ‘6 Days To Air’ know how much of an effort everyone involved with the show is still making. Even your most recent episode ‘Stunning And Brave’ sees you trying to ridicule current affairs with an attempt to highlight the absurdity of what we have come to consider normal. That’s always been the power of the show, but the satire doesn’t seem to work anymore: the jokes just aren’t funny.

Starting with season 15, the show seems to have lost its edge. The season still contained two good (‘Crack Baby Athletic Association’, ‘City Sushi’) and one brilliant episode (‘Last Of The Meheecans’), but it’s been feeling like I’m watching a mediocre cover band do ‘South Park’; the elements that make the show good are in place, but it misses a certain spark of brilliance. The same goes for season 16, where only one episode (‘Cartman Finds Love’) comes even remotely close to classic ‘South Park’. The two seasons that followed were a waste of time.

What really worries me is that there’s no end to the slump in sight. I gave you the benefit of the doubt multiple times, but I’m about to give up. When the show threatened to stagnate in the past, you and your crew found a way to inject a new impulse into the show by – for example – increasing Butters’ role or not killing Kenny off at the end of every episode anymore. Naturally, I hope you still have one of those tricks up your sleeve, but I think you would have pulled that one out already if you had.

Unfortunately, ‘South Park’ has been relegated to a status where I would leave it on if I come across it on television, but the days that I would plan my schedule around new episodes of the show are in the past. Maybe you should consider pulling the plug altogether. But I’d rather have you proving me wrong.


Kevy Metal

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