Best Friends Forever (South Park)

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"Best Friends Forever"
South Park episode
KennyInHospital.jpg
Cartman trying to get Kenny to react.
Episode no. Season 9
Episode 4
Directed by Trey Parker
Written by Trey Parker
Production code 904
Original air date March 30, 2005
Episode chronology
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"Wing"
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"The Losing Edge"
South Park (season 9)
List of South Park episodes

"Best Friends Forever" is the fourth episode of the ninth season of the American animated television series South Park. It was written and directed by co-creator Trey Parker and first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 30, 2005.

The episode is based on the Terri Schiavo case and won a 2005 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. It aired mere hours before Schiavo died and received positive reviews from critics for its portrayal of the media frenzy that surrounded the Schiavo case.

Plot[edit]

Kenny is the first person in South Park to have a new PSP video game system and simply cannot put it down. Kenny quickly works his way up to level 60 of the game Heaven vs. Hell, but soon after is run over by an ice-cream truck (whose driver is playing with his own PSP as he makes it to level four) and dies.

After ascending to Heaven, Kenny learns that God had created the PSP to search for what the angels call "our Keanu Reeves" — the person who can command his legions against Satan's forces of Hell in a manner like that of the video game. Kenny agrees to take the challenge, but he is revived just after hearing this. Because he had been dead for so long, he cannot talk or communicate and has suffered permanent brain damage. He is kept alive through the use of a feeding tube. The reading of Kenny's will, in which Cartman is given the PSP, and Stan and Kyle are given everything else, is interrupted by the announcement that Kenny is still alive. The lawyer mentions a passage about Kenny's wishes in the event of him being in a vegetative state, but the last page of the will is missing, making it impossible to tell what his wishes were.

As Satan's army begins to close in, the angels need Kenny dead so that they can win the battle of the Apocalypse. Meanwhile, Cartman, claiming his status as Kenny's "best friend forever" to the Colorado Supreme Court with the first half of the BFF medallion, gets an order to take out the feeding tube, and he removes the tube after tracking down and finding Kenny's other BFF medallion half so he can get the PSP upon Kenny's death (it's implied that Cartman himself put the other medallion around Kenny's neck). Stan and Kyle, along with Kenny's parents and other protesters, wage a media war to put the feeding tube back in and keep Kenny alive, while Cartman enlists supporters of the rights of "best friends forever" to get Kenny's feeding tube removed. At the same time Satan enlists the help of an adviser, Kevin, to "do what we always do" and use the Republicans in order to get the feeding tube put back in. However, when telling the Republican Congressman what to say, he makes the mistake of hissing into his ear, making him repeat the noise, and his attempt to remedy the situation only makes it worse.

After a long, intensive media campaign, the two sides are arguing in Kenny's hospital suite when Kenny's lawyer announces that the last page of the will has been found, and that Kenny's wishes were that if he were ever in a vegetative state, "please, for the love of God...don't ever show me in that condition on national television." The two sides realize that they have both been disrespectful of Kenny's wishes. Kyle then realizes they should not have made this issue into such a media circus, and concludes that Kenny should be taken off life support, commenting that Cartman was "right, for the wrong reasons", while he and Stan were "wrong, for the right reasons". Everyone in the hospital room agrees with Kyle and quietly leaves, allowing Kenny to die in peace. Kenny returns to Heaven just in time to command the angels to victory using a golden PSP. During the battle, attention is deliberately kept off of the battle, with the Archangel Michael exclaiming the battle "Is even bigger than the final battle in the Lord of the Rings movie!" The battle ends with Satan being shocked by the defeat of his army and killing his adviser, who also turned out to be his current boyfriend. Meanwhile, Kenny is presented with a golden statue of Keanu Reeves as a reward for defeating Satan's army.

Theme[edit]

The episode "Best Friends Forever" revolves around the Terri Schiavo case,[1][2] and originally aired in the midst of the controversy and less than 12 hours before she died.[3][4] The Terri Schiavo case consisted of a seven-year legal effort by Michael Schiavo to have his wife, Terri Schiavo, who was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, disconnected from her life-sustaining feeding tube, an action which would result in her death by dehydration. In 1998 he petitioned to remove her feeding tube under Florida Statutes Section 765.401(3).[5] He was opposed by Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, who argued that Terri was conscious. Michael later transferred his authority over the matter to the court, which determined that Terri would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures.[6][7] In March 2005 President Bush returned to Washington D.C. from a vacation to sign legislation designed to keep Schiavo alive, making the case a major national news story throughout that month. In all, the Schiavo case involved 14 appeals and numerous motions, petitions, and hearings in the Florida courts; five suits in federal district court; Florida legislation struck down by the Supreme Court of Florida; a subpoena by a congressional committee to qualify Schiavo for witness protection; federal legislation (the Palm Sunday Compromise); and four denials of certiorari from the Supreme Court of the United States.[8] The case received increasing amounts of both political and media pressure; eventually, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in Michael's favor on March 18, 2005.[9]

Reception[edit]

This episode won a 2005 Emmy Award in the category of "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming less than one hour)". This is the first time the show has beaten other nominees, such as The Simpsons and other winners. It also becomes the fourth prime time animated cartoon, and the first cable TV series, to win the award, behind The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Futurama.[10]

"Best Friends Forever" generally received positive reviews for its portrayal of the Terri Schiavo case. In her book The Deep End of South Park, Leslie Stratyner applauds the episode for its ability to "tackle such challenging issues as...right to die in 'Best Friends Forever'...its 'devil-may-care' attitude that has brought a fair amount of acclaim".[11] On a different aspect of the controversy, Jonathan Gray commented that the "twist at the end with Kenny's final page of the will...illustrates just how crazy people become about everyday issues. The only thing Kenny didn't want came true as a result of those two sides".[12] Writing for the Chicago Sun Times, Jeff Shannon described the episode thus: "Clearly aware that taking sides in the right-to-life debate would be a divisive, no-win strategy, Parker and Stone aimed their satirical arrows at the one aspect of the Schiavo case that's indisputably offensive: the horrendous media circus that turned a private matter into a shamefully public spectacle." [13] Jefferey Weinstock, in Taking South Park Seriously, praised the episode for its parody of the government and how it "derides the use of government to enforce a narrowly-defined 'right-to-life' moral agenda presented as representative of God's will, a tactic predominantly associated with right-conservatives."[14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jake Trapper and Dan Morris (2006-09-22). "Secrets of 'South Park'". ABC News. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  2. ^ Frazier Moore (2006-12-14). "Loud and lewd but sweet underneath". The Age. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  3. ^ Hancock, Noelle (2006-03-24). "Park Life". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  4. ^ Kate Aurthur (2005-04-02). "'South Park' Echoes the Schiavo Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  5. ^ "§ 765.401 of Florida Statues - Health Care Advance Directives - The proxy.". State of Florida. 2006-11-22. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  6. ^ William R. Levesque (2003-11-08). "Schiavo's wishes recalled in records". St. Petersburg Times Online. Retrieved 2006-01-05. 
  7. ^ Nina Easton (2005-03-23). "Rights groups for disabled join in fight". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-01-10. 
  8. ^ Felos, George J., Esq. (2005-03-24). ""Respondent Michael Schiavo's opposition to application for injunction," Case No.: 04A-825". Blue Dolphin Publishing. Retrieved 2006-01-15.  p. 9
  9. ^ Hook, C. Christopher; Paul S. Mueller, MD (2005-11-01). "The Terri Schiavo Saga: The Making of a Tragedy and Lessons Learned". Volume 80 (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) 80 (11): 1449–1460. doi:10.4065/80.11.1449. ISSN 1942-5546. PMID 16295025. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  10. ^ "South Park Awards". about.com. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  11. ^ Stratyner McFarland, Leslie; James R. Keller (2009). Leslie Stratyner, ed. The Deep End of South Park: Critical Essays on Television's Shocking Cartoon Series. McFarland. pp. 7, 9. ISBN 978-0-7864-4307-9. Retrieved 8-6-09. 
  12. ^ Gray, Jonathan; Ethan Thompson; Ethan Thompson (2009). Satire TV. p. 5. 
  13. ^ Shannon, Jeff (November 13, 2005). "Who's our favorite crippled boy? Timmy!: South Park 's learning-disabled, wheelchair-using fourth-grader is so politically incorrect that disabled people adore him". Chicago-Sun Times. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  14. ^ Weinstock, pg. 156

References[edit]

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