South Park season 1 episode 6 review

Our look back at South Park's first season arrives at Death...


Stan’s grandfather has reached the end of his tether; he’s so old he no longer feels the point of living and wants to die. He constantly attempts to get Stan to kill him, whether by hanging, or helping him stick a fork in a plug socket.

Stan is, naturally, reluctant to bump off his grandfather, and seeks advice from his friends and the adults of South Park, none of whom are too forthcoming with help on the issue.

When his grandfather demonstrates to him exactly what it’s like to be old (by leading him into a dark room and blasting Enya on the stereo until he begs for mercy), Stan agrees to help end his grandfather’s life – and that’s when the Grim Reaper himself shows up in South Park.

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At the same time, the boys have become fond of a new TV show, Terrence and Philip, which features two Canadians doing little else but farting on each other in a variety of ways. Outraged by this show polluting the minds of her children, Kyle’s mother goes on a rampage, protesting to have the show banned. Her cause progresses to such extremes in the end that people begin catapulting themselves to their deaths in order to see the show boycotted.

Things wrap up when it turns out Death was after Kenny all along, and a ghostly apparition appears to warn Stan’s grandfather that trying to get his grandson to kill him may not be the wisest choice.

Kyle’s mother succeeds in having Terrence and Philip taken off the air, only for it to be replaced by re-runs of She’s the Sheriff, which turns out to be full of just as much profanity.

This is an episode that deals with quite a tricky subject – that of euthanasia, and the moral implications of such an act. More on-point is the way Parker and Stone portray society’s reluctance to face difficult issues such as this. Almost every character in the show, when confronted with the question of whether euthanasia is right or wrong, replies with, “I’m not touching that one with a twenty foot pole.”

Only at the end do we get some insight as to what the writers’ personal feelings on the subject may be, and even then, they’re intelligent enough to give us two points of view, even if they do contradict.

Kylie believes that, if an elderly person is suffering and wants to die, it should be their right to leave this world with dignity. On the other hand, the ghost of Stan’s great grandfather appears to warn his son, “You’re so obsessed with ending your life, you’re not thinking what it may be doing to (Stan’s).” Further evidence that this show is about more than just toilet humour.  

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Favourite bit here has to be the genius idea dreamt up by Parker and Stone that being old and miserable is like being forced to listen to the “cheesy but soothing” tones of Enya.  

Read our review of episode 5 here.