In recent years watching South Park has been more of a duty than a pleasure, where often I would find myself watching South Park out of loyalty rather than because it was a quality show, it was getting to a stage where I began to ask myself if it was really worth it anymore because it had become a chore.
Season 17 was almost an absolute abomination of a season and when I was watching it I couldn’t help but think of the many ways in which I was going to slaughter the show, however the season ended strongly with the Black Friday trilogy and was followed up with the even stronger The Stick of Truth video game (which was truly excellent). Needless to say my faith in South Park was beginning to be reborn and season 18 helped it along the way.
Was season 18 perfect? Was it to the level of South Park when the show was outstanding? The answer to both is no, but it was much better. Too often in my opinion South Park tries to be super current, making episodes out of things which happened days before which nobody will probably remember in a few months and generally aren’t deserving of a dedicated full episode, this still happened in season 18 but an over arcing season storyline was introduced for the first time in what feels like forever.
I have read other people talk about South Park doing season long storylines and clock backs as if this was the first time it had ever happened, which is wrong because there were seasons where Cartman kept trying to make $10 million dollars, Kenny being replaced by Butters and Tweek as well as well as when Kenny was trapped in Cartman’s body (I’m sure if I thought longer I could come up with more). The major difference is that South Park recently has had little to no continuity and season long arcs, which may I also add, coincides with the show being kind of shit…it doesn’t take a genius to work out what that says.
By no means was this season perfect, I think it started strongly and plodded along quite nicely with some good standalone episodes but the ending was really poor. The final two episodes were pretty poor, and it isn’t just cause I’m a grandpa but rather that they didn’t really know how to finish the season. That’s the weird thing about this season, there was a lot of great and clever continuity but when it came to the final episodes they didn’t know what to do and it all turned into a great big mess. They tried to reference pretty much every single episode in the final that it turned into a massive clusterfuck, which ended up being nothing and gave us no satisfying ending to any of the story arcs or any of the new ideas introduced. The biggest fault in the finale was that the excellent Randy is Lorde story never received the payoff which it rightfully deserved.
Speaking of Randy and Lorde, how great was that storyline? This for me was classic South Park. It was totally ridiculous and initially seemed like a throwaway joke but somehow it was morphed into something bigger and more special. The weird thing about South Park is that as the show has progressed Randy has become a more central character, and if it wasn’t already certain, this season cemented it, Randy is South Park’s funniest character. Randy has essentially taken the large space left by Chef and has run with it. Is it that as an older viewer I now relate more with Randy than Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Butters and Kenny? After all I was only seven when the show started and now I’m twenty four, have my, as well as Trey Parker’s (the writer), feelings about connection and representation moved? I don’t really know the answer to that but what I do know is that if you watch an old South Park episode and compare it to the newer ones you see that the way the kids are represented has changed.
I could sit and yap on about things that bother me about South Park now and why it would be better if it did a, b and c, but I genuinely do think that this season was a vast improvement on the last five. South Park isn’t back to where it was 10+ years ago but if the future is looking to build off of the foundations and structure set by this season, then I think things are looking up. South Park is better when there seems to be a season long plan, where episodes haven’t just been planned up days before on some passing fad and this season on the main gave us exactly that. For the first time in years I am actually looking forward to the next season of South Park, rather than dreading another season of pitiful mediocrity which is slowly dragging one of my all-time favourite shows good name through the mud.
I reviewed season 17 of South Park last year and I think it is actually a very interesting read when you now compare it to season 18.
So what did you think of South Park season 18? Did you like the return to continuity or did you think that the show was fine the way it was? Am I too harsh on the show in general? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and don’t forget that you can find more of this lovely content by joining the bm23reviews Facebook and Twitter pages or checking out bm23tvreviews.com, because why the fuck not?