South Park recently started it’s eighteenth season here in the UK (although the second episode has already been aired in the US), with the season premiere “Go Fund Yourself” having hit British airwaves on Wednesday night. The first episode often gives an impression on whether or not a new season, or even the whole show is worth watching. In the case of South Park, we’re doomed from the very beginning, because “Go Fund Yourself” turned out to be a shockingly lame episode, but it’s more than just bad. It somehow manages to be symbolic of everything wrong with the newer South Park episodes.
The first problem is that the episode opens up with a buffet of gross-out sentences like “boner balls”, and it does so without any shred of context whatsoever. For God’s sake, some of these sound like names for rejected grindcore bands. It only makes sense at the scene where the boys are told that all those “names” have been taken by other start-up companies. What are the boys trying to do? They’re trying to start a company that solely exists so that they can do nothing. Then, Cartman comes along with the suggestion to name that company “Washington Redskins”, due to the trademark having been pulled.
Let it be known that this is without a doubt the worst possible plot for a South Park episode so far. I honestly think that episodes like “Tonsil Trouble”, “Going Native”, and “I Should Never Have Gone Ziplining” had better plots, and those episodes were terrible, so it was incredibly hard for me to say anything positive about them. What’s worse is the way this episode chooses to deal with its poor choice of subject matter. Given that the last episode (season 17’s “The Hobbit”) dealt with subject matter that was older than the episode, starting the next season with two subjects that aren’t exactly new doesn’t seem very spectacular.
The writers seem to treat Kickstater as a way for people to get money for doing nothing, complete with a dumb news reporter interviewing a stereotypical teenager, who gives some of the most artificial, caricatured lines of dialogue in the show’s history. I can’t help but think that this time, the writers weren’t even trying. All they know how to do in this episode is repeat old jokes (like Cartman’s terrible rant about the NFL and the Catholic Church being the same thing), and thrust the point down your throat.
The multitude of NFL jokes present here just don’t work, not just because I have no idea what they’re talking about, but because they were simply written lazily. The joke about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell being a robot was just ill-conceived, primarily because you have to know all about the NFL to get it. For me, the biggest problem with the plot of this episode is how much the main characters abuse the phrase “fuck you”. Seriously, they say it so much, and without any good context, that it makes swearing seem routine. Until I saw that episode, I didn’t think anyone could make the f-word sound so sterile. Not only does this episode seem like a contractual obligation, but it’s also as though the writers are officially declaring that they no longer care that South Park is stale and tired.
From this first impression, I have the feeling that the season 18 might just be the worst season in the entire run of South Park, mainly because it’s now so obvious that the show has gotten old. The writing style has really changed since 2007, and in my opinion, South Park has aged terribly. It might just be time for the creators of South Park to step back and pass the torch to a new generation, instead of just selling out and waiting to “bro down”.
Then again, I still have nine more episodes to wait for. The second episode, “Gluten Free Ebola”, has yet to be aired in the UK, but I don’t have a lot of high expectations. If anything, I think the eighteenth season is going to get worse from here.