It appears that South Park just can’t stay dead. Yesterday, it was confirmed that Comedy Central is going to extend the show’s run through to 2019, by which point the show will have reached season 23. This means that South Park will continue its evolution into what I call “South Krap” for another four years, never mind that we’re already at the point where South Park has more bad or forgettable episodes than good ones, which is what inevitably happens when a TV show goes on for too long. In a way, this is consistent with the way all TV shows work. They attract you during the early years, and then continue making episodes until everyone gets bored in the end. In this case, however, South Park survives because it’s now essentially a brand name that refers to a larger merchandising franchise, complete with a new video game heading for the eighth-generation consoles.
Merchandising aside, the reason for South Park’s continued production being a bad idea is that, in order to stay afloat, the writers are basically going to resort to the same old clichés over and over again. That means more outdated jokes about racism, more tepid pop culture references that are barely even relevant, and more haphazardly assembled episode plots that beggar logic, and it’ll just keep going until Comedy Central finally pulls the plug on it.
Perhaps the real problem, however, is what might become of the characters. The characters have already suffered enough at the hands of dubious writing. Kyle has become nothing but a moralist belly-acher, Cartman has become an overly hot-tempered ultra-right bigot (with shades of misogyny highlighted in “The Cissy”), Stan has become an incapable protagonist, and Kenny has simply become a background character, all while the adults have simply gotten stupider, and the children are more like teenagers than actual children. It’s because the writers have lost touch with their original vision for the show, which blended naive youthful innocence with sharp social satire (and loads of swearing). In the newest episodes to come, the characters could be reduced to the level of gibbering nitwits, or worse.
As bad the last season was, I’m highly certain that the next four are going to be infinitely worse, possibly to the point that, if you watched them, it’d make you grieve for humanity, and even more so for the writers as they continue their pointless quest for ratings. If they’re right, South Park will continue until Comedy Central decides it’s time to cancel it, and if The Simpsons is a good enough example, then the show will only descend further and further into self-parody.