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This Is The Exact Moment South Park Jumped The Shark

Come on down to "South Park," we'll see if we can't...jump the shark. 

Sure, everyone's favorite group of foul-mouthed fourth graders are on their 26th Season at press time and will be around for at least four more, but that doesn't mean that the quality of those most recent adventures hasn't become...rather spotty over the course of their airing. Sure, there have been highlights sprinkled in around and about along the way; a surprising (and well-played) revelation about Tolkien Black (Adrien Beard) here, an unexpected moving and funny seasons-long subplot involving a secret affair between PC Principal (Trey Parker) and Strong Woman (Jessica Makinson) over there, and a poke in the ribs to a Canadian prince and princess over yonder. 

But this particular moment sits like a signpost at the series' crossroad. After viewers pass it, the chemistry of "South Park" itself changes in an irrevocable way, leaving behind a series that has showed spikes of promise but never really recovered in full. Thus far, it's failed to become the same raunchy-but-pointed program fans have come to love over the decades; it sits trapped in a repetitive morass, drawing focus away from important supporting characters and even the central friendship between the show's core four characters.

Randy Marsh's quest for 'Tegridy has been Tedious

Ever since "South Park" turned Randy Marsh (Trey Parker) from a workaday geologist prone to colorful outbursts into an outré wild man, it has strained to come up with entertaining plotlines that serve this new characterization. To wit: more recent stories involving Randy have seen him spending half his day performing in a wig as teen pop star Lorde or plunging into a contest with U2's Bono over who can produce the most fulsome bowel movement;  he's far from the time when giving advice to his son, Stan (also Parker) made up most of his story movement. With those plotlines in mind, the notion of Randy jumping onto the CBD bandwagon and buying his own marijuana farm seems like a positively tame notion compared to the sight of him nuking his own testes in the microwave in the hope that he'll end up with testicular cancer so that he'll be prescribed medicinal cannabis. 

But ever since Season 21's "Tegridy Farms," which kicked off "South Park" several season-long plot arc surrounding the Marsh family's life in the country, way too much of the show has been swallowed up both by Randy's tedious antics and a series of cyclical and boring plots attached to his weed-selling business. The base incident which incites the Marsh's move into the country — Shelly (April Stewart) sending inappropriate pictures to the school hall monitor so she can vape at her leisure — is uncomfortable by "South Park" standards, but not disastrous; it feels like a drop in the bucket compared to the jaw-dropping acts both kids have committed over the show's lifespan, which includes indirect homicide in Stan's case.

Every Tegridy Farms plot works the same way

Perhaps the biggest problem Tegridy Farms has dragged into "South Park" is this simple irritant; every single episode about the farm resolves itself in the same way. Most of these plots run this way: Randy will realize that the farm is suffering financially, or he's preparing to launch a new strain of weed. He comes into contact with a seemingly powerful authority figure or enemy — whether that may be Mr. Mouse (Trey Parker), Tolkien Black's dad Steve (Adrien Beard), or the revelation that Randy accidentally created the Covid-19 pandemic through intercourse with a pangolin. At the end of the day — even though Randy has mired himself deeper in debt or made a new enemy — he manages to get out his new product. Whether it's a special "Christmas"-related strain of his weed which is made of pure cocaine or a special strain of marijuana inspired by the very pandemic he accidentally created, it will end with a jokey commercial selling 'Tegridy. Rinse and repeat. While this is something of a tweak toward the repetitiveness of sitcom plotlines in general, it is annoying, and isn't nearly as much fun as a plotline centered around Stan and his friends.

The amount of story the farm has actually driven forward is minimal at best; the Marsh family has gotten a little richer, and a rift has developed between Randy and Steve Black, who now owns a farm named Credigree next door. The farm has in aided "South Park" in its shift between episodic and serealized storytelling, a process that began in Season 18, and one that has been historically scattershot for its fanbase. Even with the occasional plot deviation and wild twist it all feels bizarrely ordinary.

Taking Stan out of South Park hasn't benefitted his character

Another terrible facet of the Tegridy Farms plot is that it has mired Sharon (April Stewart), Shelly and Stan Marsh out in the country, an act that hasn't inspired many interesting plotlines for them. Aside from the events of the "South Park: Post-Covid" set of films (which have been stricken from the show's canon thanks to Stan righting what went wrong), the other Marshes have basically been doing the same thing over the past three seasons. Stan and Shelly hate their new home, complain about having to do "weed chores," and express their annoyance or embarrassment over Randy's behavior. Sharon hates Randy's foolishness with their money, his refusal to do basic household chores, and threatens to stop doing his "weed work." In the end, they stay miserably stuck where they were.

Shelly and Stan's minor rebellions have only resulted in temporary chaos. And poor Sharon hasn't had an interesting plotline since her temporary divorce from Randy during Season 15's "You're Getting Old." They all deserve something better.

Even worse, Tegridy sopping up most of the show's plot juice has caused logistical problems elsewhere on the show. With Stan out in the country (but still attending the same school), we've had fewer episodes about all four boys. This has resulted in more episodes centered around their classroom lives or their conflicts with their parents. Kyle Broflovski (Matt Stone) and Kenny McCormick (also Stone) have barely been extent on the program during the show's past three seasons, with plum storylines going to Stan, Eric Cartman (Trey Parker), Tolkien and Butters Stotch (Stone again). Moving Stan back to South Park and away from Tegridy can only help the show reintegrate the boys to one another and the show at large.

Here's what South Park could do to fix their issue with 'Tegridy

Short answer: please get rid of the farm and move Stan back to town proper. Longer answer: the whole Tegridy Farms plotline has become a big one-note joke which stopped being funny a long time ago and has caused a general downgrade in the show's quality at large. Now that the show's decided ManBearPig is real and fostered a connection between him and Randy, why not bring Randy back to his geologist roots and have him dig deeper into ManBearPig's existence, as hinted in the "Streaming Wars" series of movies? Such a plot feels fresher and smarter than anything we've been subjected to during the Tegridy plotline. 

Moving everyone back to South Park proper will also make it easier to center stories around the neighborhood and all four boys instead of having to pick and choose between which of them gets a spotlight for the week. Most of the show's best episodes center around all four of them at once trying to accomplish some project, so when one of them is absent from an outing it's like there's a giant hole in the show's narrative. 

If these problems are fixed, then maybe this will just be a Jakovasaur-shaped blip in the show's long history. It's very rare for a show to jump back over that infamous shark, but it wouldn't be the first miracle "South Park" has pulled off.