Soggy Cereal

Has America’s funniest satire sunk lower than Jerry Seinfeld?

Jason Yungbluth
6 min readJun 10, 2024

Weeks ago, after the rest of the world had already torn apart Jerry Seinfeld’s by all accounts torturous Netflix film Unfrosted, I sat down on my couch in the most slunk posture I could affect to see if Unfrosted truly lived down to its reputation. It did.

More recently, I sat down on my couch with a slightly more erect and alert posture to enjoy “The End of Obesity”, the latest special edition of South Park (the long-running and famously sharp-witted animated program), and was stunned to discover that what I was watching could have been Unfrosted’s multiverse twin, both in its theme and its level of laziness.

Unfrosted (written, directed and starring Jerry Seinfeld), could best be described as the very incarnation of the movie’s own worst gag, in which Chef Boyardee and the Nazi-coded inventor of Sea-Monkeys collaborate to create the first Pop-Tart, the result being a tiny monster that is just a ravioli stuffed with squirming brine shrimp. The entire movie is this formula made flesh: Slam several dated pop culture references together and hope that the result is humor. After seeing Unfrosted, you’ll never again believe that Jerry Seinfeld once headlined the most popular comedy program of the 90s.

But while Jerry Seinfeld is now regarded as a cultural cold sore, his mask of performative cynicism having slipped to reveal a bona fide, status-obsessed grouch, South Park, which also debuted in the 90s, has stayed meme-able even as recently as last year when it’s “Joining the Panderverse” episode made “Put a chick in it! Make it lame and gay!” a battle cry for an America burnt out on Walt Disney’s omnipresent franchises.

But even the “Panderverse” episode showcased the liver spots of South Park’s decline. The portrayal of the sociopathic Eric Carman as Disney’s Kathleen Kennedy, demanding that all Disney movies feature queer girl bosses, was that episode’s only good joke… one which it quickly ran into the ground. And that episode was the exception; most South Park installments of the past two years are as unquotable as an episode of Brickleberry.

A one-to-one comparison between Unfrosted and “The End of Obesity will seem outrageous to many South Park diehards, but it is time someone peed on Matt and Trey’s parade on behalf of the masses that keep going on down to South Park only to find themselves emitting pity chuckles for this former giant of satire.

That’ll teach you to lower our expectations, Trey.

“The End of Obesity” lampoons Ozempic, a weight loss drug that is apparently all the rage among the wealthy. I say “apparently” because… had you ever heard of this medical miracle? Perhaps I am out of touch, but to me this episode repeated one of later South Park’s most conspicuous sins: being unrelatable. Many recent South Parks like “Japanese Toilet” (about expensive Japanese toilets), “Dikinbaus Hot Dogs” (about the squeezing of the Middle Class) and “Streaming Wars” (about, well, the television streaming wars, with an extended detour razzing corporate slideshows for some reason), all seem centered on the irritations of the well-off. Where South Park was once the program that depicted smug elites farting into wine glasses, Trey Parker and Matt Stone now seem to be bottling their own vintage.

But even when South Park doesn’t feel like it is newly sympathetic to people taking it in the pocketbook over the price of fennel at Whole Foods, other recent episodes like “Cupid Ye”, “Pajama Day” and “Credigree Weed St. Patrick’s Day Special” feel like half-baked pitches that should have been left on their index cards.

I’m not saying that Jerry Seinfeld and the creator’s of South Park share the same disregard for their audience. Seinfeld’s contempt for his fellow man is known to be inversely proportional to his love for pieces of puffed corn floating in milk. But a certain aloofness has crept into South Park over its past few seasons (if you can call them that — South Park’s output has drastically diminished since 2020), and the hungry young men of 6 Days to Air are now well fed and seem to be crossing their arms at the effort it takes to craft truly funny material. Unfrosted may play out like the first draft of “MAD Magazine visits Kellog’s!” circa 1964, you can at least see that Jerry Seinfeld is giving it his all. His terrible, terrible all.

No one can tell another person what funny “is”, but a lot of the humor in “The End of Obesity” feels like a sneeze that stopped half way. For example, a running gag about Randy Marsh shooting up Ozempic as though it were a rave drug, not an appetite suppressant, sets up what an earlier era of South Park would have turned into a blistering parody of Trainspotting or Permanent Midnight. But I had to watch the cartoon twice to even get that the joke was meant to be that Randy was in a downward spiral. (I thought he was actually trying to diet.) Another bit, about the singer “Lizzo” being prescribed as a substitute for Ozempic, is pretty funny… but Parker returns to the premise again and again without ever really tying a bow on it. To be honest, it feels like Trey Parker has forgotten how to be mean.

Besides being similarly boring, Unfrosted and “The End of Obesity” both feature mafia boardroom scenes where corporate villains plot to keep kids hooked on sugary cereals. In South Park’s case the bad guys are the actual cereal mascots (Side note — How is it that neither Seinfeld nor Parker can write good material for Tony the Tiger?), and this leads to a violent and over-indulgent Fury Road chase scene to pad out the episode. That sequence also echoes a January 6th-style riot in the climax of Unfrosted which is executed by people dressed as cereal mascots. Neither of these sequences earned more than a chuckle from me, but I dare say that Unfrosted tried harder to spin gold from its premise.

To watch Jerry Seinfeld faceplant so tragically is almost worth the damage to your retinas that Unfrosted surely inflicts, but people like me turn to programs like South Park to wash garbage like Unfrosted off our skin, not to leave us wondering if Matt and Trey are exchanging cereal banter with Seinfeld at catered barbecues.

However, there is one other thing that made “The End of Obesity” suck just a little harder than Unfrosted, and it is this: As any fan of South Park knows, Eric Cartman’s favorite insult against his friend Kyle has forever and always been that Kyle is Jewish. But in this episode, Cartman switches-up his approach and attacks Kyle for being a red-haired ginger, whose now unnamed religion is a joke.

Let that sink in for a moment. South Park’s brand, the brand that has seared the asses of every one of their critics, is that they are fearless. South Park has mocked cerebral palsy, transsexualism, Scientology, a dwarf’s waddle, their own voice actors… absolutely anyone they wanted to mock, and dared their detractors to try and deploy their heckler’s veto against the laughter of South Park’s audience. In South Park’s most famous moment, they even went to the mat against their bosses at Comedy Central and insisted that they be allowed to show a cartoon image of the Prophet Mohammed after riots and terrorism had resulted from other such depictions. Comedy Central did not yield, but South Park was ready to roll those dice.

So… what has changed? Why is South Park suddenly unwilling to poke ironic fun at Jews when, over the past thirty-odd years, the number of times that Cartman has called Kyle a “dirty Jew rat” could be strung together into a 72-hour super cut? Did Matt and Trey witness one too many university presidents having their fingernails pulled out by Elise Stefanik? Have we finally met the interest group capable of crushing Matt and Trey’s heroic spirit, the very spine of South Park?

Because that, my friends, would be pretty lame and gay.

Previously: Political Climate Change

Jason Yungbluth writes comic books, including one called Weapon Brown.



Jason Yungbluth

Creator of Weapon Brown, Deep Fried and Clarissa. And AIDS.