'South Park' skewers Broadway: Too late or right on the money?

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Image Credit: Comedy Central

Before their brilliantly un-PC musical Book of Mormon opened on Broadway and transformed them into Tony winners, co-authors Trey Parker and Matt Stone paid a visit to The Late Show with David Letterman. While there, Letterman joked to the duo about their show, “I think I just heard Eugene O’Neill turn over in his grave.” (Funnily enough, that sound bite has been used as a selling point in ads for the sold-out-until-the-end-of-time show.)

Of course, if their deliriously offensive musical didn’t make O’Neill do that yet, last night’s South Park probably did. The Broadway-themed episode — titled “Broadway Bro-Down,” which was co-written by Parker and Stone’s Book of Mormon collaborator Robert Lopez — suggested that not only do the toe-tapping shows we all know and love have subtext that makes women, er, perform for their dates, but that said shows are written by a bunch of high-fiving, beer-guzzling chauvinists. Those chauvinists being Broadway legends like Stephen Sondheim, Elton John, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Of course, it’s not that obviously ridiculous notion that might have some fans singing an unhappy tune. (Though, admittedly, we may never listen to Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, and South Pacific the same way ever again.) It’s that the episode may have simply felt outdated. Sure, the show basically served as a reminder to go see Book of Mormon (or at least, try your hardest to snag a ticket), but the episode took a big potshot at the consistently lampooned Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. At one point during “Broadway Bro-Down,” Randy dresses up as Spider-Man to save his daughter Shelly from making it to the end of Wicked. Before heading into the theater, Randy declares, “It’s time to put an end to Broadway, once and for all!” Watch the VERY NSFW moment below:

So was the moment a hilarious send-up of the disastrous early run of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, or did it feel like a bit of a low — forgive me — blow, to make fun of a show that Book of Mormon has all but mopped the floor with in reviews, ticket sales, and Tonys? But, speaking of Broadway face-offs, outdated or not (the show also finally got around to making fun of Vegans in the episode), the whole thing was worth watching for a bro-ed out scuffle between Sondheim and Randy. Again, VERY, VERY NSFW, but hilarious, none the less. Watch:

I’m a firm believer that South Park doesn’t always have to be topical to work. In fact, some of my favorite episodes of the show have been when they don’t skewer what’s current (for instance, “Casa Bonita” or “Stanley’s Cup”). But the line got a little blurred here. The episode could have just been a one-off about Broadway and worked just fine, but by bringing Spider-Man — a show that’s been out of the spotlight for a while now — into the mix, it felt somewhat outdated.

What did you think of the episode, PopWatchers? Did the episode feel a little outdated or was it too funny for you to even care? Should Parker and Stone even have a beef with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark? (I mean, Phil Collins didn’t even write it!) Or does that show deserved to be mocked for as long as it runs? (Hey, Cats is still a go-to punchline!) Share in the comments section below, bro.

Read more:
Trey Parker and Matt Stone say they will definitely make a ‘Book of Mormon’ movie — EXCLUSIVE
Church of Scientology allegedly ran background checks on friends of ‘South Park’ creators
‘South Park': 21 ‘They Did WHAT?!’ Episodes

Comments (35 total) Add your comment
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  • Sarah

    IT WAS AMAZING. Being the theater maniac that I am, it was fabulous seeing references one after the other. I did not stop smiling during the entire episode.

    • District 12

      I agree, the whole episode kept me smiling especially when they traveled to New York.

    • Melissa

      I’m with you guys, I watched online and had to pause five minutes in to stop myself from kicking the laptop screen I was exploding with so much laughter. I also wrote a SP fanfic called South Side Story, so I was loving it the whole way through.

  • LOL

    Spider Man felt a little too late. The rest was pretty damn funny.

    • pastafarian

      But how do you do a broadway show *without* making fun of spiderman? Heck, wanna talk about late? What about Cats?

  • parkr

    Does any know if Sondheim did have issues with “Book of Mormon” (but then had a “bro-off” and now they are cool with each other)?

    • Annie Hall

      Don’t know about Book of Mormon – but he LOVED the South Park movie

  • Heather

    GAH I wish I had known about it — when will it be on again?

    • Monty

      you can see it on southparkstudios(dot)com right now. new episodes air for a week, then are off for 3 weeks before being permanently on the website.

  • sternum

    its funny because watching this last night, i didnt even realize it was new i thought it was from a couple months ago or something, because it felt a bit dated.

  • Jay

    I’ve already got my Broadway tickets for me and my girl….. subtext, baby! :-p

  • Bobby’s Robot

    I guess their own Broadway show is a sacred cow unsuitable for lampooning.

    • arch42

      If they did that, they would have to appear on the show…as themselves. It wouldn’t be as funny.

    • Dom

      Uh…they did lampoon their own show, bra. Randy decides to put on a musical and his musical is crass and irreverent AND get’s noticed by Broadway big-hitters. That show represents Book of Mormon, bro.

  • Andrew

    Spider-Man hasn’t lost out on Tonys yet, because it hasn’t been nominated. It wasn’t open by the cutoff for this year’s awards.

    • JDextemper

      True, true, but let’s be honest: come next spring, how many Tonys is it likely to get? Set Design, maybe Costumes, Lighting, Sound, and that’s about it (that it stands a shot of winning; I really doubt it’ll be in the running for much else)

  • The Truth

    Its not dated at all. Broadway could be made fun of anytime and be relavent. They poked fun at all the big hits so why not a poke at the worst PR disaster in recent theater memory.

    I think the funniest part of the episode was the subplot about the Vegan family. And there is the genious of Southpark, they poked fun at Broadway as the main plot and that is getting all the attention. They snuck in a bash on veganism and not a peep.

  • Cartman’s Mom

    LOVED IT!! Do you think it was inappropriate that I watched it with my 16 year old son? He’s the one that got me hooked on SP! Last night I kept saying to him I shouldn’t be watching this with you – but we both kept laughing….

  • winston

    they were clearly up to date on their tim tebow/denver broncos references.

    RESPEC’ BRO!!!

  • donna

    Yes, I was watching with my 17 yo son, and also felt awkward. That said, I hope I don’t burst into laughter next spring, when we head to NYC to see Book of Mormon, Chicago and Wicked!

    • Not A Critic

      That’s pretty nasty…what you do with your son should be kept to yourself. The world doesn’t need to know of your humming plans.

  • Not A Critic

    South Park is only allowed to write shows on current topics? Really? No respek, “bro.”

  • Sarah

    ‘West Side Story, bro! ‘Sweeney Todd’, bro!………’Merrily We Roll Along’, bro!” haha purely spectacular

  • edd

    Seems a bit over-the-top to spend the whole review on it. I loved it, classic South Park. From the first scene, when it was obvious this was going to be about Randy, to then suddenly cutting to a fat kid on a diving board with Cartman behind him, just felt a good set-up to the whole episode, and it delivered. Loved that Randy’s line suddenly turned the episode into one long ad for the Mormans was great, as was the whole skewering. Loved it.

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