The Reboot Effect: South Park

Did you like Sketchy Details on Facebook yet? The 50th person to like the page gets any item they want, up to $20 in value, from the Etsy store. Exclusive content and easier commenting at the click of this link. Don't you just love it when topics of interest start to work together? First Neurotically Yours hit the reset button. Now South Park has done it.

South Park splits its seasons in half. The first half of season 15 ended on a cliffhanger. Stan Marsh developed a condition where everything literally looked like crap and he was miserable. His parents were getting a divorce and the family moved into new houses. His friends gave up on him and he was stuck with an unexpectedly depressing life.

The second half of Season 15 premiered last night on a wave of promotion asking whether or not everything changes. The episode played off the idea of continuity. Stan winds up in the guidance counselor's office asking why thinks can't go back to the way they were. Then the story starts to spin. Stan is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, only to be informed that Asperger's is a front for an underground army fighting for social awareness. They, too, share Stan's special blend of cynicism and fight for the truth to come out. It spirals into absurdity from there.

South Park actually returns to its standard format of insane over the top comedy by insisting on the continuity. The adventure caused by Asperger's and school vaccination puts the characters into the standard "I learned something today" that always resets the action in the town.

In this case, the reset is more severe. Stan's parents get back together, Cartman and Kyle stop being friends, and Stan is dragged back into the old life that he was finally willing to give up. Everything we were being groomed to accept as a new direction for the show is wiped away.

It's as twisted as any other episode of South Park. Refusing to meet expectations of a significant change in format is perhaps the most loyal decision the show has made in years. This was season one South Park mayhem with the more mature approach of recent years. The show has, essentially, gone back to year one by forcing us to consider how the show would change all summer long; it won't.

Thoughts?

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