Ed. note: Well, Matt wrote this before these dudes went on “The Daily Show” to say they’re not ending “South Park,” but we think it’s still a nice read.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s poignant yet scatological machination, “South Park,” was something I simply couldn’t do without in my film school days. Aside from being gut-bursting hilarious, the episodes espoused exactly what I was thinking at the time. No envy, just the exuberance that, “Well, if I can’t say it to the world, at least they will!”
With all that reverie behind me, I can’t help but give in to the resounding internet speculation that last week’s “South Park” episode, the half-season finale, might have been a clandestine series finale.
Any fan of the show knows that a few years back, the boys enjoyed a $75 million payday contractually obligating them to stay on at Comedy Central for what would today be one more half-season. They’ve since signed another contract and this past March spoke in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter about their intention to stay with Comedy Central until 2013.
The problem, of course, being that we all know what happened with Dave Chappelle and his famously walking away from a similar $50 million deal. We’re also talking about the world’s most successful living contrarians, Trey and Matt. They kinda do whatever the hell they want.
Compounded with these realities is the underlying message of the last episode, “You’re Getting Old,” in which the primary characters state directly that they’re getting bored with the same ol’ routine, making indirect reference to the show itself.
Throughout the episode (which I feel is hands-down the best since those college days), there’s a devastatingly apocalyptic motif about cynicism and despair. Stan turns 10, suddenly seeing the world is literally shit and — spoiler alert! — his parents divorce at the end, selling the family house.
The episode ends with mortal enemies Cartman and Kyle becoming friends, fade up “Landslide” — “Well, I’ve been afraid of changing…” — and then it’s an uncharacteristic fade to black with an eerily caustic end credits sequence absent the show’s signature theme music.
Indeed, as the producers themselves say in the description of the episode on their SouthParkStudios.com website, “the very fabric of South Park begins to unravel.”
So, especially now that they have more money than God and are riding a high crest of success in a whole other field, will Trey and Matt grant their customary finger to the consequences and walk? “But time makes you bolder/Children get older/I’m getting older too.”
Lest we forget that equally self-reflective episode, “Quest for Ratings,” in which the characters realize they can’t create a TV program to compete with a trite reality show of cuddly animals, in the end deciding to “bail.” Seven seasons later, Trey and Matt have yet to leave.
Perhaps we can therefore rest easy knowing that the end of 2011 is still a long way away, and that 2013 is even further down the road.
Particularly with this telling quote from Trey in that March Hollywood Reporter: “‘South Park‘ is way bigger than either of us… And it’s this curse, and when we are doing it, I hate it. I’m pissed off and I’m tired, and every single Tuesday I say, ‘This is the worst show we’ve ever done!’ It’s brutal. But it’s something I am a part of that’s bigger than I am. That’s what most important.”