Tuned In

The Morning After: The Fast Food and the Furious

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Quick spoilers for last night’s return of South Park below:

Some last-minute deadlines prevent me from giving the longer writeup I was hoping to “Ass Burgers,” which resolved the sort-of-cliffhanger from the midseason finale. I found a lot to like in the episode, like the topical spoof of vaccine paranoia. (Even the semi-insensitive representation of Asperger’s became a semi-decent parody of The Matrix, once it turned out that the obnoxious “patients” were actually faking the condition.)

My main issue what that the episode did resolve the sort-of-cliffhanger, at least so definitively. The experience of a kid going through a phase in which life just seems definitively rotten is a common one, but one that TV shows rarely deal with well (I’m thinking Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks as a possible exception). I hope that South Park is not dropping it, but I thought it worked especially well tied to Stan’s parents’ split, and I think the series might have done more had it committed to Stan’s home situation as a longer arc.

I can see stepping back from the endless shit-spraying jokes, which were going to get old quick. But reuniting the Marshes so quickly was a shame; I thought the show could have gotten a lot of character mileage out of the breakup and Stan’s having to live with it. On the other hand, the sober—and yet, totally not sober—ending suggested that Parker and Stone are not done with Bummer Stan and his attempt to fake happiness. Which conversely, makes me happy, or at least hopeful.

But I’m especially curious about your reactions to the reunion. When the midseason finale aired, a lot of viewers took the split as a sign that Trey and Matt were done with South Park. That’s clearly not the case—they’ve since signed on for more—so do you take the message that sometimes when you get old, you have to “stick with what you know” as a message that they’ve changed their minds and resigned themselves? Or did they never plan to end their marriage with the series to begin with?