It’s incredible to think that South Park a show about four odd little boys from a wacky little town in Colorado would still be on the air after twenty years. Although South Park isn’t the show it once was it showed in the last couple of seasons that it can still pull out numerous good episodes whilst also having its finger firmly on the pulse.
There will be spoilers for season 20 of South Park in this review.
The last couple of seasons of South Park have been generally pretty solid, there were some struggles of bring able to bring their season long story arcs to a conclusion but you could see what they were trying to do and due to the seasons being stronger overall than those which had preceded, it was forgiveable because they were trying to do something different. Season 20 however managed to take all the bad parts of the previous two seasons and somehow make them so much worse.
South Park prides itself on being the most current animated shows on television. The manner in which the show is produced is more in line with something like Saturday Night Live than a traditional TV show. This sort of thing can have its benefits when episodes of South Park can be scarily current at how much they have their finger on the pulse, but this season very much showed the dark side of how South Park is made.
Despite denying that they had based the entire season around Trump losing the election it was clearly the case. After Trump won the election the season went to absolute shit, they had no idea what they were now doing with their season long arcs and what we ended up getting was a mish mash of absolute shit.
It’s a shame because the early episodes were actually really quite good, from Gerald being a massive troll, to Cartman’s social justice warrior, to weiners out, Member berries and the early Mr. Garrison stuff, the problem wasn’t that they didn’t have good ideas, the problem is that they didn’t know what to do with them after they introduced them into the season.
So often less is more and that’s not what happened here, they gave too much and got burned for it. They hedged their bets so much that they ended up fucking the season and that is terrible writing from Parker and Stone. The irony of the whole thing is that one of the story arcs was Member berries but they didn’t fucking member to conclude any of their story arcs. This season of South Park is the equivalent of masturbating for a good hour only to get bored and decide you can’t be arsed finishing.
You only have to look at the name of the final episode of the season to know what Parker and Stone thought of it, “The End of Serialization as We Know It”. It tells you that they know they fucked up, they know that they created too much work for themselves got caught with their pants down and then didn’t know how to pivot away from the mistakes which they made.
It’s really hard to take positives out of this season, the first four episodes showed promise but pretty much everything after that was shit. There are basic things like the fact that it felt that Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny were nothing but bit part players in what is supposed to be their show. Cartman who is their figure point had probably his shittest season ever, getting stuck in a story arc which neutered everything that make him great and then never delivering a pay-off. These sorts of things are totally unforgivable.
The sad thing is that serialisation if done properly can be excellent, the problem is that they went nuclear with it. The older seasons always had some sort of season long arc which would spring up in some episodes, the last two season went back to that sort of thing but were a little on the nose with it, this season was shovel to the face. The problem with shovel to the face is that it makes the re-watchability of this season terrible because you aren’t going to be able to understand what’s happening if you watch a random episode (not that you’d want to for this season).
There’s not much else you can say about season 20 of South Park, it was a disaster. Too many story arcs which went nowhere, poor writing, poor planning, poor use of characters, an over obsession with bashing Trump and we ended up with what was a really poor season. It’s a shame but it would be really interesting to see where they were wanting to go with the season if Clinton had won the election, I just can’t understand why they would so thoroughly put all their eggs into one basket.
So what did you think of season 20 of South Park? Are you struggling to member what the point of the story arcs were? Are you wondering why Cartman managed to lose his testicles? Or are you just wondering how America managed to elect Mr. Garrison? Well leave a comment and share those thoughts!