South Park: Growing Up is Hard To Do

Note: If you haven't seen last night's South Park, I strongly encourage you to watch it before reading this. You can watch it online and for free right here. Also, I say "shit" a few times in this article. Sorry for your virgin ears. Or eyes. Or whatever.

In light of South Park's midseason finale "You're Getting Old," I have a confession to make. I struggle with "Being a Cynical Asshole Syndrome" every day. In fact, I've struggled with it for some time now. It might have started around the same time that Radiohead's "Kid A" came out; I'm not sure. All I know is that at some point, my rosy glasses faded to gray and I began seeing the world a bit differently: as a downward spiral that lead straight into a giant steaming pile of mainstream garbage and pop-culture crap, all of it thrust upon sheep by huge corporations trying to make a buck at the expense of individuality and choices.

Yeah, kinda bleak. But it isn't the "everything is shit" thought process that's the most crippling. It's the effect that thought process can have on others, and the huge changes that can come about as a result. That's exactly what happened to Stan last night in what was one of South Park's most moving, poignant episodes to date. And like all of South Park's best episodes, it said a whole lot more beyond what what was happening on screen.

Show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone often speak through the mouths of their characters, most notably Stan and Kyle, and what they said last night was that things aren't okay. As Stan (voiced by Parker) saw his world literally dissolving into shit before his eyes, we got the sense that Matt and Trey's discontent with pop culture is at an all-time high. That's to be expected, as many of South Park's episodes tackle whatever mainstream sensation is currently trending.

But when Randy and Sharon admitted that they're unhappy in their marriage, it was Matt and Trey saying they're tired—tired of doing the same shit every week, then hitting the reset button and doing it all over again. And who can blame them? The guys are now halfway through their fifteenth season, and they aren't the type to pass on the heavy burden of creating a TV show to someone else. In short, it appears that South Park is wearing on them, and the end is in sight.

And what a way to get things off their chest. "You're Getting Old" was beautiful in its sadness, and the final montage was as moving as that emotionally destroying sequence in Pixar's Up. I thought things would end on a crass joke, but the final scene—with Stan lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling—just cut to black. The message was clear: Trey and Matt aren't joking around. In the past, even the "heavier" episodes of South Park have maintained some semblance of "everything is going to be okay," and were usually rounded out with a juvenile fart joke, but this one just. faded. to. black. I get it—growing up is hard. Think about that childhood friend from elementary school who you were once so tight with, but drifted apart from in middle school. What happened? What changed? Do they ever still think of you? I'll admit it, I felt a tear well up (but it never escaped my eye, so it doesn't count as crying!). Hours after watching the ending, it's still resonating with me, and it's even more jarring as things sink in.

The episode still contained plenty of funny moments, most notably: 1. Randy pretending to like Tween Wave music, 2. all those fake movie trailers covered in shit, and 3. the old men saving britches, which served as the episode's requisite "ridiculous" storyline (and was acknowledged as such during Sharon and Randy's breakup). Also, the show nailed "L.A. Noire"—it really doesn't matter what choices you make. Sigh.

But what made this episode so great was Matt and Trey's honesty in their admission that they're going through the motions. It takes balls to come out and say that, and the way they did it made it easy to sympathize with them. We aren't supposed to feel sorry for them, we aren't supposed to feel sad for the show, and we aren't supposed to make any concerted effort to make things better. Things are what they are, people move on, people grow up and change. I haven't been the greatest fan of the show in recent seasons through no fault of theirs, and it's nice to hear they don't think they've been the best showrunners. If they want to end their show this season, they can. It's probably best for both of us. We've had a good run together.

Okay, now I'm crying.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Jul 23, 2011
Plenty of funny moments throughout the years, if it were to end many would surely miss it. I agree, if your heart's not in it, don't do it. But you never know, they may surprise us and keep on going.
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Jun 17, 2011
no it isn't check out daily show interview with matt and trey
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Jun 16, 2011
Personally, I thought the 14th season of SP was one of its best, but the first, I think, 3 or 4 episodes of this one was a huge letdown, it really picked up with the last couple though, and I've been a huge fan ever since the first season, when I was like 9. I'm sad that it might end, but I accept it. Hopefully the other 7 episodes will be awesome and the series can end on a high note.
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Jun 15, 2011
A great cartoon show. But there is more comics to come. Visit http://www.comicbooksworld.com/
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Jun 14, 2011
Tim, your problem isn't that you're a "cynical a$$hole." I's that you're a pretentious douchebag. "Oh noes! Things get popular, and then people like them! The horror!" What are you, twelve?
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Jun 13, 2011
The ending was a HUGE letdown,but that was a great episode though
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Jun 13, 2011
I've grown up watching south park since I was 17 and as much as I love it and would miss it, all good things must come to an end. It wouldn't be right to keep the show going if the creators hearts aren't in it anymore. I believe that 'your getting old' isn't the last epsiode because they are contracted to 7 more shows. Really would like them to go out witha bang though possibly a movie.
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Jun 13, 2011
I've grown up watching south park since I was 17 and as much as I love it and would miss it, all good things must come to an end. It wouldn't be right to keep the show going if the creators hearts aren't in it anymore. I believe that 'your getting old' isn't the last epsiode because they are contracted to 7 more shows. Really would like them to go out witha bang though possibly a movie.
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Jun 13, 2011
I hope the show doesn't end, I've grown up watching his show! It's a classic!
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Jun 12, 2011
is there going to be more than 7 episodes for this season? and when is going to be aired?
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Jun 12, 2011
Guys, this episode isn't the end of the show, the writer of this article is only saying the end might be near, unless Trey and Matt find some new reason to go on. I for one would be okay with South Park ending. Looking back on season 1 the show has become very formulaic, simply making fun of whatever is the hype of the week. It's still funny sometimes, but the show has been around for a long time and I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to end it soon. Maybe go out with a massive finale episode (or a movie) that brings back a lot of the memorable characters and events. Like Awesome-O 4000, the aliens, Starvin' Marvin, Kanye West and what not.
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Jun 12, 2011
@zeddyp: I agree with you that I wouldn't put it past them that they are messing with us but I don't think so. Trey and Matt are experiencing creative burnout and South Park has come to an end.
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Jun 12, 2011
South Park is the best cartoon on televeision. And one of the smartest shows ever. Love it and I would surely miss it!
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Jun 12, 2011
@Buildam2005: Thanks! I totally forgot about the weird breaks in seasons. And while I do believe it's probably time to wrap it up, I'll still be watching every episode they throw at us. What can I say? I'm a fan. I have to chase the dragon.
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Jun 11, 2011
Lol this isnt the end of the show....do people not realize Trey and Matt LOVE f'ing with people....I know majority of you havnt been fans long enough to know what im talking about in this instance but...for those of you that do....do you not recall the april fools joke for "Cartmans mom is still a dirty whore"?.....they threw up a terrance and phillip episode JUST to mess with people and piss everyone off....this episode YES is a way for them telling us they are getting tired and the end of the show probably is soon to come....but it is NOT the last episode...they just want you to think it is
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Jun 11, 2011
I don't think I could live in a world without South Park
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Jun 11, 2011
we've all read way too much into this episode....or maybe im just in denial.
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Jun 11, 2011
@Daniel: That would be an AWFUL way to end the series. While I like the basic idea of them saying f**k it and ending early no matter what their material loss would be, that would be a HUGE slap in the face for the fans. I have been a fan of SP and everything pertaining to Matt and Trey since the beginning (Cannibal: The Musical, Orgazmo, BASEketball, SP movie, TA, BoM etc) and while I don\'t want the end of the show to be some random sentimental pandering episode for the fans, that would be a tragic way to end the season.
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Jun 10, 2011
Nice too know i wasn't the only one who was touched, but well to me it had been a dear friend. I grew up and thought fart jokes wasn't that funny, but it became nostolgia, from the time i had my confirmation. So that it is about to end with 15th season makes me feel kind of old, and feels as strange as i fox said that The Simpsons has been cancelled. But it's always good to end a show before it gets a borden, instead of a pleasure.
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Jun 10, 2011
bottom line the episode was sh*t the world sux sometimes and escapism into cheesy movies and music is ok, suck it up andy kaufman its not about what entertains you, its about the fans
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Jun 10, 2011
Simpsons take note. Stop trying to hang on to something that should have ended 10 years ago. I haven't been this messed up by an animated comedy show since Futurama's The Late Philip J Fry
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Jun 10, 2011
when will the simpsons wake up and pull the plug? I have'nt found that show funny for quite a while now.
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Jun 10, 2011
Even if South Park is ending, I respect Trey and Matt's decision. They can do bigger and better things in the future. At least I still have Futurama and American Dad to be happy about. South Park has had a good run!
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Jun 10, 2011
Thank you for writing this! I have been passively searching for someone to acknowledge what went down on the last brutal episode of South Park. I really felt like this was the end, too. Of course this is no way to go out but it certainly made it clear that even South Park has an end date. When the episode opened with Stan's birthday it immediately set the tone. Here was Stan, who has been the same age for, like, fourteen years, having a birthday. What? And then that final montage! I was waiting for the end joke, that moment when everything would become normal again. It made the shot with the duck brilliant. I was like, hey, it's a duck, not sh*t, so everything is going to be fine after all. Not. At. All. It was just painfully honest, poignant and moving. From Stan's parents divorce to Kyle and Cartman playing video games, looking at each other with what easily was one of the most friendliest looks they ever shared. It really felt like the end.
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Jun 10, 2011
i thought i was the only one thinking that, and a tear did fill my eye. but now when you have cleared everything up, iam crying you bastard! i agree south park hasn't been the best show around lately, with weird brake's and long waits and okej storys. but the show have always been the joke that you have thought about in more brilliant way! tackling the best things out there! it has been one of the best runs ever! thank you Matt & Trey!!
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Jun 10, 2011
That last scene really did hit "home" for me. It was a crashing realization that Matt and Trey were actually being serious and it wasn't just involving the story of this current episode. Things were changing at the core of the show and the episodes theme seems to indicate that perhaps the writers don't find any joy in doing the show anymore. I've been a huge fan of South Park for years and I, for one, will be sad to see it go. It was always a refreshing dose of common sense and comedy that brought me back down to earth.
Good luck, Matt and Trey. Hopefully you have just a little more heart left for the show to end it with a bang come the last half of this season in October.
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Jun 10, 2011
I forget where I read it, but they've been wanting to move on to other projects for a while but Comedy Central keeps renewing the show, so they keep doing it.

Wouldn't it be sorta cool if they just said F the contracts we quit and that ENDING ended up as the series finale.
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Jun 10, 2011
This season hasn't been the greatest by any means, but I don't think there's any threat of it being stopped unless the creators get sick of it. The kids have been the same age for 15 years, more or less, they're not about to 'grow up' and the show stop. Anyway, this episode was a major disappointment. I felt like the creators were trying to hit me over the head with Cartman's wiffle bat to get their message across. The only 'clever' thing about the episode is that if you rip it they can fall back on saying, "Then clearly you relate to it (Stan's critical nature and 'the sh%t)." But that's old-school device.
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Jun 10, 2011
seen better, i believe the show is going downhill
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Jun 10, 2011
ok episode, but quality has dropped significantly, quite disappointing.
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Jun 10, 2011
Its ok
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Jun 10, 2011
I wonder If the fact that Matt Stone just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago mirrors Stans 10th birthday and him realizing everything is turning into sh*t... I'd have to agree, not just with South Park, but with everything the media world in general has to offer.
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Jun 10, 2011
\"I have a confession to make. I struggle with \"Being a Cynical **** Syndrome\" every day.\"
Is it considered a confession when everybody on TV.com already knows this?

On-topic: Really touching episode, but I guess the show has had its run. I just wonder what Matt Stone and Trey Parker will do when they\'re finished with South Park, retire?
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Jun 10, 2011
Seth McFarlane needs to take note of this episode and apply it to family guy. But yeah, this could be the last season of South Park, and if it is at least they're letting us know a head of time.
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Jun 10, 2011
meh the show i stopped watching years ago as it just got too rediculous to bother anymore much like family guy. not sad to see it go as sometimes they just need to stop milking a cow and beating a dead horse. csi all 3 of them are likely next and law n order lost half of them this year.
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Jun 10, 2011
I think it's too soon to say well the show's been lagging it's time to pack it up . This season as been a little subpar but it's only half way through. Last season was hilarious. If Matt and Trey do want to call it quits no one will blame them though, they've had a good run and it's sad to see them go.
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Jun 10, 2011
I'll be very sad to see this show go and I sincerely hope it continues, but I will not be surprised if it ends in the foreseeable future...
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Jun 10, 2011
I still firmly believe that there is no good version of "Landslide." Not the Dixie Chicks, not the Smashing Pumpkins, and certainly not Stevie Nicks. But I listened to it for the sake of the scene.
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Jun 10, 2011
@zonachelle: fear not (or do, if this doesn't make you happy)--this was just the mid-season finale. At the very least, there will be about a half-dozen episodes starting in October to round out season 15. After that, of course, is a big question mark.
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Jun 10, 2011
Wow, that an episode of South Park... It's the first episode that actually made me sad and almost shed a tear. I'll be so sad to see it go - it's one of my favorite shows. :(
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Jun 10, 2011
Remember that episode several seasons ago where they were a news team and they kept talking about having no good ideas left and possibly being "cancelled"? Do you feel it might be the end like that? I just want to make sure how much stock to put into this editorial (since I rarely do and often disagree with most of TV.coms opeds).

I will say though the show has been on the air for a bit of time now, and while it would not behoove trey and matt to leave such a well paying gig if they have more steam in the engine (despite finally having a few critically and box office successful films after doing stinkers (box office wise anyway, I still loved them) like Orgasmo or BASEketball), I suppose the implication would make more sense now than earlier....however, if it's just a "feeling" and there's really little to no legitimacy behind it...well...don't scare us so much with thoughts like that dude.
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Jun 10, 2011
@ smashking777: That song was "Landslide", by Stevie Nicks. The Dixie Chicks do a pretty good version, too.
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Jun 10, 2011
Jesus, this is pathetic. CANNOT believe I'm sitting here crying over a South Park episode. Totally not my fault. It's that f'ing song. Who doesn't cry when that song comes on?!?! Kinda glad to see I wasn't the only one, though. And yeah, ok, the writing's been on the wall for awhile. It's time to pack it in. Maybe throw us another South Park movie in a few years, when you get inspired again? That would be cool. It'll be sucky not to have a new South Park season to look forward to...almost as bad as when we lost Calvin and Hobbes. But 15 seasons is pretty epic. It's time. You guys totally rocked it, though. Thanks!
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Jun 10, 2011
They are comic icons, whatever happens they still will be a force to reckon with!
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Jun 10, 2011
it was pretty sad ending and the song was pretty sad as hell too does anyone know what that song was ?
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Jun 10, 2011
A different episode!
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Jun 09, 2011
They need to create less of a burden on themselves. I'm sure they have plenty of talented writers on staff, but if you look at the writing and directing credits it's all Trey Parker since Season 12. Let other people write, put your stamp of approval on it / punch it up, and then do the voice acting and keep collecting the checks while still having a quality show on the air.
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Jun 09, 2011
This episode was brilliant, and part of that does have to do with how despondent the ending was. I was, as I'm sure most people were, expecting some quick and easy reset at the very end, but was pleasantly--though depressingly--surprised when the episode ended on its serious, poignant note. Even though the message is that Trey and Matt are tired, they clearly still know how to make pretty damn good television.
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Jun 09, 2011
i think that was first sad episode of south park ever, and still it was pretty funny
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Jun 09, 2011
This was brilliant, sad, funny, and gross all at once. Welcome to South Park... but I agree with Tim, the show has been lagging, and now we know they feel it too. What a downer ending though! This ranks second all time in sad cartoon endings only to the Futurama where the dog waits forever.... Man, growing up sucks!!
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