You're Getting Old
At Stan's tenth birthday party, his present from Kyle is the latest CD from a "tween wave" band, but Sharon Marsh forbids Stan to listen to the CD and promptly takes it away, enraging him. After Randy argues with Sharon over the matter, he decides to sit down and listen to the CD (which, to the viewer and the adults, is the sound of drum beats and defecation). Randy claims to enjoy the CD, but Sharon does not believe him. As tween wave music becomes popular, Sharon and the other boys' parents forbid them from listening to any of it, and try to play for them The Police's song "Every Breath You Take" as an example of what they consider to be good music. To the boys and the viewer, however, it literally sounds like people defecating on the soundtrack, just as the "tween wave" music is presented as sounding to the adults. That night, Stan secretly listens to the confiscated music but discovers, to his confusion, that it now too "sounds like shit".
Stan goes to the doctor, who, after examining him, diagnoses him as a "cynical asshole". From ice cream to movie trailers, Stan can now only see the bad in things, and this negative outlook alienates him from Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman, who begin avoiding him. When Stan catches them secretly going to the movies without him after lying about having the flu, he comes along, only for his attitude to ruin the trailers and Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman leave the theater. Cartman then coldly informs Stan that they do not want to hang out with him anymore and leaves with Kenny. As Stan and Kyle argue over this, Stan literally sees Kyle as a large piece of feces that defecates instead of talking, indicating that he sees them as "shit".
Sharon accuses Randy of merely feigning interest in modern music in order to hold onto his childhood dreams of being a musician, and deny that he is getting older. Randy, however, ignores her, and starts performing tween wave music at the local bowling alley under the name "Steamy Ray Vaughn", with flatulence as part of the act. During a duet with a woman billing herself as "Steamy Nicks", Sharon catches Randy at the bowling alley, resulting in an argument. She excoriates him for the various schemes and fads that he has often briefly taken with over the years, such as getting into fights at baseball games, playing World of Warcraft, and becoming a celebrity chef, but Randy reveals that he is unhappy, and has been for a long time. The two agree that while they are both unhappy, they do not feel the same about each other any more. Two old farmers, who previously watched Randy perform, overhear the argument and break into the Marshes' home to steal Randy's underwear, believing that they are acting humanely on its behalf.
As Fleetwood Mac's song "Landslide" plays, Sharon and Randy separate and sell their house, with Stan, Sharon and older sibling Shelly moving into a new home. The police arrest the farmers and recover Randy's underwear. A new friendship appears to develop between Kyle and Cartman, who share a smile while playing video games together (a bonding activity Stan and Kyle once shared). Stan, now completely alienated from his friends, shows no signs of his cynicism ending.
Behind The Scenes
The conclusion was inspired by modern television dramas, which are often serialized and are less likely to have the standard "happy ending." The episode created significant media attention, and was interpreted by some critics as a metaphor for the frustration experienced by creators Parker and Stone stemming from the show's continued production; other critics, and several viewers, speculated on whether the episode was meant as a series finale.
Pop Culture References
During the scene of Kyle playing at the bowling alley, while the two "Britches" guys are talking a Visitor can be seen to the right near the lockers.