South Park Review Take 2: A Reader's Take on "Broadway Bro Down"
Not everyone loved TV Fanatic staff writer Eric Hochberger's review of last night's South Park episode.
Some left unnecessarily cruel and vulgar comments on the write-up, while others replied in a more constructive manner. Take, for instance, reader Matthew Hewson. He actually penned his own review in response. We've posted it below.
If you've been watching for the past few seasons, you may have been wondering (up until a couple of weeks ago, at least) exactly how much more life can be left in a show that's now running into its 15th year. After a return to form with "Bass to Mouth," my hopes were high for the next installment of Trey and Matt's lovechild, and I'm happy to say that they don't disappoint.
"Broadway Bro Down" focuses largely on Stan's father, Randy Marsh, and if past experience is anything to go by, this is usually a strong basis for a hilarious half hour. Even if you weren't a fan of the largely Randy-centric "Creme Freche" and "Over Logging" episodes, you were still be in for a treat here, via a rare show of compassion from Stan's sister, Shelly, and some much-needed closure following the breakup and subsequent makeup of their parents that formed the mid-point of the season.
The episode begins with Randy ripping on one his colleague, Nelson, following the admission that he was forced to spend the evening with his wife at a Broadway show instead of watching the football game. As it turns out, the only reason men have ever endured Broadway musicals is not to please their wife, but rather because of the promise of hour-long post-musical blow jobs, thanks to some subtle and not-so-subtle autosuggestion on the part of the male song writers.
Almost as shocking as this revelation is the fact that Randy has managed to make time for his on and off (more usually off) career as a geologist.
Having treated Sharon to see the musical Wicked some twenty-something times, and having reaped the rewards as many times over, Randy decides that it's time to expand his horizons, and the pair jet off to NYC to see the real Broadway, leaving Stan and Shelly with "The Vegans," a family of meat-detesting, life preserver-wearing stereotypes whose son Larry has been a vegan, by choice, since the day he was born. Shelly's defense of Larry in front of his parents leads to a nice story arc in which the pair fall for one another, showing a far less abrasive side of Shelly than what we typically see.
Back to the A-story, and Randy has decided to take it upon himself to write and produce his own musical, much to the disgust of his peers in the industry, who aren't happy at his show's "lack of subtext." It turns out that Lloyd Webber, Elton John, Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Soundheim are all big-time bros who, when not writing musicals, spend their time hanging out in Hooters knocking back the brewskis. A bro-down between Randy and Schwartz leads to friendship between the writers, and the renaming of Randy's musical from "Spooge-drenched blow job queen" to the slightly more classy (and subtext-laden) "Woman in White."
The show comes to a tidy close with Randy having gatecrashed a performance of Wicked, having learned that his daughter and her boyfriend Larry have gone to see the show that night, and the admission to Sharon that all musicals are just an easy way for men to get great blow jobs from their wives and girlfriends. I won't go into much more detail, but suffice to say that Spider-Man is also involved, presumably a jab at the problems that beset the Broadway musical of the same name.
The whole episode feels like an allegory of Matt and Trey's experience of the Broadway scene when creating their own musical, The Book of Mormon, and the plug at the end of the episode makes no secret of that fact.
I'm absolutely fine with this, as there are many laugh-out-loud moments along the way, and dare I say, this may be the best episode of series 15 to date. I did find the overuse of the word 'Bro' a little annoying after the 215th time, but blowjob is mentioned in equal measures and yet I didn't find it to detract from the story, so go figure. A notable gem from near the end of the episode is when Randy calls a man in the theatre a "F*cking pervert" for having visited Wicked with his young granddaughter, and the musical numbers throughout are as good as any we've come to expect from the show.
Credit must also go out for the great portrayal of Elton John.
Some people may criticize South Park for no longer being on the cutting edge of comedy, for failing to offend at every opportunity in perhaps the same way as episodes past. I am not one of those people, and for the moment, am enjoying the direction that Matt and Trey are taking the show. For me, an episode should be about good comedy and laugh-out-loud moments in greater measure than an intent to cause offense, not that the latter would go amiss every once in a while!
For me, a solid 4.5 stars out of five for episode 11.