Fans of recent South Park are familiar with Member Berries, the show’s seductive, sinister metaphor for the irresistible power of nostalgia and “the good old days.” The berries start out harmless and fun—“’member Chewbacca?”—but inevitably end up talking about the more awful things people still get nostalgic for. But while the show spent a lot of time on the berries in its most recent season—before kind of dropping them in the Trump-sabotaged season finale—there’s a simple (joke) reason the super fruit might not pop up in season 21: Steven Spielberg.
“Now that Spielberg is doing Ready Player One—which is like the most Member Berry thing ever invented — we can’t out-Member Berry that,” Trey Parker joked in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “All the Member Berries left our show to go be on that.” The show’s creators took the swipe at Spielberg—whose upcoming adaptation of Ernest Kline’s novel does, indeed, seem like an attempt to mainline every single pop culture reference from the 1980s and ’90s into America’s veins, all at once—while talking about the show’s own plans to take a step backward, forgoing two seasons of increased serialization.
“Last season we really tried to do a serialized thing, and it was just really hard,” Matt Stone said, echoing sentiments he and Parker have expressed in the past. “In some ways it was cool and in some ways it trapped us. The way we do that show is not compatible with full serialization.” They’re not necessarily sparing themselves the Member Berries comparisons either; a recent trailer for the upcoming season featured the fruit prominently alongside the new “back to basics” message.