South Park returned for its mid season 15 premiere, picking up where the show left off, with the malaise of “You’re Getting Old” having deepened heavily. Stan’s morose conviction that the world has become filled with, ah, excrement is only increased when he faces a fall filled with Terra Nova and Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men, both of which were mercilessly ridiculed. Oh, and he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
Yes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone managed to satirize the HPV vaccination controversy (their subtext: people who don’t think their children should be vaccinated are idiots) while turning the episode on a classic Cartman misunderstanding. After the school discusses the HPV virus, the subject of Asperger’s arises, a term that Cartman heard as “ass burgers.” Thinking he had an easy way to get out of school, he made some hamburgers, stuffed them down his pants, and complained to the school nurse of pain in his rear end.
In the logic of South Park, the hamburgers that spent time in Cartman’s underwear attained an added, flavorful je ne sais quoi that immediately became a sensation. Cartman opened up a bustling burger stand that sent chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King into an angry frenzy.
Stan, meanwhile, sank into a depression that the guidance counselor believed was Asperger’s brought on by a school-administered flu shot. Placed in a ward housing other such diagnosed patients, Stan discovered that, once these “patients” are left alone, they became the fully functioning Secret Society of Cynics, bristlingly aware that “the world has turned to s—.”
It was a fine coda to June’s episode – you know, the one that some interpreted as a sign that Parker and Stone were disenchanted with their South Park creation, now that they are “mature” Book of Mormon Tony Award winners. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is, if you believe in truth, as the Society of Cynics might say.
I also highly recommend you watch Six Days to Air: The Making of South Park, a terrific special airing on Comedy Central this Sunday at 10 p.m. The documentary follows Parker and Stone from the opening of Mormon to the creation of the amazing “HUMANCENTiPAD” episode. To see the duo and their devoted, bleary-eyed team of producers, writers (including SNL’s Bill Hader), and animators churn out the vulgar glory that is a good (or even mediocre) episode of South Park is fascinating to behold.