The reality of President Donald Trump was not something a good chunk of this country was prepared for. This goes double for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who had created an episode for South Park’s past season pegged to the victory of Hillary Clinton. When that didn’t happen, Parker and Stone scrambled to rewrite the episode, resulting in “Oh, jeez,” an episode we found lacking in satirical bite. The episodes that followed were similarly uninspired. “What happens when it becomes evident that, as satirists, they aren’t quite as keyed in to the political landscape as they thought?” we wrote in our review of the season finale.
It seems that the state of country, both socially and politically, was proving itself comedically untenable for South Park. The finale even seemed to acknowledge as much when one character states that we’re now living in “a new, post-funny era of satire.”
Parker echoed that sentiment in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. Although the chat mainly centers around his role in Despicable Me 3, the interview inevitably inquires as to the future of Parker’s long-running series.
“South Park” turns 20 this year. Has it gotten harder over those years to do satirical comedy, especially now that everyone on the Internet can make their own jokes off the latest news within seconds?
Yeah, and it’s also just gotten boring. We weren’t ever really that show. We would do an entire season and there would be one moment that played off something that had just happened and people would go, “ ‘South Park’ is the show that does that.” And that’s just not true. We’re not.
We did start to become that, though, especially the last season. We fell into the same trap that “Saturday Night Live” fell into, where it was like, “Dude, we’re just becoming CNN now. We’re becoming: ‘Tune in to see what we’re going to say about Trump.’ ” Matt and I hated it but we got stuck in it somehow.
He says the future of the show will focus less on satirizing current events and more on “Cartman dressing up like a robot and [screwing] with Butters.” With what sounds like exasperation, Parker says, “We probably could put up billboards—‘Look what we’re going to do to Trump next week!’—and get crazy ratings. But I just don’t care.”
Parker doesn’t explicitly say it, but it sure sounds like this next season of South Park could be its last. Noting that he and Stone have “felt the culture changing,” Parker says a “witch hunt is coming” for the show, one he feels will be the end of it.