You're Getting Old

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"You're Getting Old"
South Park episode
You're Getting Old Screenshot.png
Stan's cynicism leads him to literally see everything around him as feces.
Episode no. Season 15
Episode 7
Directed by Trey Parker
Written by Trey Parker
Featured music "Landslide"
by Fleetwood Mac
Production code 1507
Original air date June 8, 2011 (2011-06-08)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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South Park (season 15)
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"You're Getting Old" is the seventh episode and mid-season finale of the fifteenth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 216th episode of the series overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on June 8, 2011. In the episode, Stan, after celebrating his tenth birthday, begins to develop a profound sense of cynicism, and his inability to see anything positive in the world around him alienates him from his friends.

The episode was written by series co-creator Trey Parker and is rated TV-MA L in the United States. It was seen by some critics as a metaphor for the frustration experienced by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone stemming from the show's continued production, and an unofficial series finale. However, Parker and Stone denied being unhappy with the show and stated that they still enjoy producing episodes.

Plot[edit]

At Stan's tenth birthday party, his present from Kyle is the latest CD from a "tween wave" band, but Sharon forbids Stan to listen to the CD and promptly takes it away. Randy argues with Sharon over the matter, so he decides to sit down and listen to the CD (which, to the viewer and the adults, is the sound of drum beats and defecation). Randy claims to enjoy the CD, but Sharon does not believe him. As tween wave music becomes popular, Sharon and the other boys' parents forbid them from listening to any of it, and try to play for them The Police's song "Every Breath You Take" as an example of what they consider to be good music. To the boys and the viewer, however, it literally sounds like people defecating on the soundtrack, just as the "tween wave" music is presented as sounding to the adults. That night, Stan secretly listens to the confiscated music but discovers, to his confusion, that it now "sounds like shit".

Stan goes to the doctor, who, after examining him, diagnoses him as a "cynical asshole". From ice cream to movie trailers, Stan can now only see the bad in things, and this negative outlook alienates him from Kyle, Kenny and Cartman, who begin avoiding him. As Stan and Kyle argue over this, Stan literally sees Kyle as a large piece of feces that defecates instead of talking.

Sharon accuses Randy of merely feigning interest in the music in order to hold onto his childhood dreams of being a musician, and deny that he is getting older. Randy, however, ignores her, and starts performing tween wave music at the local bowling alley under the name "Steamy Ray Vaughn", with defecation as part of the act. During a duet with a woman billing herself as "Steamy Nicks", Sharon catches Randy at the bowling alley, resulting in a huge argument. She excoriates him for the various schemes and fads that he has often briefly taken with over the years, such as getting into fights at baseball games, playing World of Warcraft, and becoming a celebrity chef, but Randy reveals that he is unhappy, and has been for a long time. The two agree that while they are both unhappy, they do not feel the same about each other any more. Two old farmers, who previously watched Randy perform, overhear the argument and break into the Marshes' home to steal Randy's underwear, believing that they are acting humanely on its behalf.

As Fleetwood Mac's song "Landslide" plays, Sharon and Randy separate and sell their house, with Stan, Sharon and Shelly moving into a new home. The police arrest the farmers and recover Randy's underwear. A new friendship appears to develop between Kyle and Cartman, who share a smile while playing video games together. Stan, now completely alienated from his friends, shows no signs of his cynicism ending.

Production[edit]

Creators Matt Stone (right) and Trey Parker (left) have reportedly been tied down with production of the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon as well as a short development schedule for South Park.[1]

As contractually obligated, Stone and Parker were given one week to produce the episode, as with every other in the season.[1] Coinciding with production and performance of the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon produced by the South Park creators, there has been speculation over doubt within the writing team on the future of South Park.[2] Shortly after the opening of The Book of Mormon, an "exasperated" Parker commented to The Hollywood Reporter in reference to the upcoming season: "I don't know how we're going to do it. It's a nightmare." At the time, Stone and Parker were contractually obligated to continue production through 2013.[1]

Comedy Central's press release prior to the airing of the episode alluded to its significance, stating: "After Stan celebrates his 10th birthday, he begins to see everything differently... The very fabric of South Park begins to unravel."[3] On the commentary Trey Parker and Matt Stone state that they did not know the episode would spark speculation as to a series finale, and that they enjoyed working on it.

Reception[edit]

In its original American broadcast on June 8, 2011, "You're Getting Old" was watched by 2.295 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.[4]

It's easy to draw a lot of parallels between the Marsh males and what the SP creators themselves are surely going through. When Trey and Matt started this journey, they were young men challenging the world. Now they are middle-aged industry veterans with new interests and new perspectives. Maybe they've just outgrown their own brand of humor, and no longer want to try to appeal to the tastes of their younger audience.

IGN review of "You're Getting Old"[5]

Reaction to "You're Getting Old" was positive. Critics pointed to the self-referencing aim of the episode in growing older and redefining senses of humor as well as cynicism. While Ramsey Isler of IGN found the episode to be largely humorless and monotonous, he interpreted this as intentional on the part of the show's creators, who he believed had grown weary of creating the series. Isler called the final moments of the episode "the most somber material the series has ever produced... providing the emotional soundtrack for a montage of images that just rip the heart out of any South Park fan", giving the episode an 8.5/10.[5] HitFix's review on the episode focused on its personal philosophic themes, stating "But what was interesting about Stan's existential crisis, and how he struggled to like anything, is that the show's philosophy has often largely been about how other people care too much about things... Yet here, Stan's lack of passion – and the Marsh parents' – was clearly shown to be a bad thing for them."[6]

Sean O'Neal commented on the "finality" of the episode, noting that although the creators were still under contract until 2013, "there are already scores of people questioning on IMDB boards and Twitter whether it was, in fact, a surprise series finale." O'Neal saw the use of the Fleetwood Mac song "Landslide" (the only song in the episode that does not feature the sounds of defecation) in the episode's closing moments to have served as "both a parody of a self-serious drama's season finale and an actual, self-serious, dramatic season finale."[7]

On June 15, 2011, Parker and Stone appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where they denied being unhappy with the show and stated that they still enjoy producing episodes. Parker commented that, while the episode did deal with some issues they had with the show, they particularly enjoyed creating "You're Getting Old", and that despite not knowing what upcoming episodes would be about, they would figure it out upon resuming production in August 2011.[8]

In December 2011 Time magazine ranked the episode at #7 in its list of Top 10 TV Episodes of 2011, with James Poniewozik commenting, "With no easy wrap-up to Stan's depression and ending with an entirely unironic montage set to 'Landslide', South Park showed that it too can grow up — if, thankfully, not by much."[9]

References[edit]

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