I have decided to start to review more things than just films, for there are things I wish to say about the TV shows I like and dislike as well. And what better way to start off my new category here at the blog, than with one of the most spot-on, intelligent, defiant, and ingenious satire programs in the recorded history of television – South Park?
South Park has to be some kind of miracle. How can it be that I found not only such a brilliantly dark and hilarious show, but also that a program of such mean-spirited and utterly vicious satirical humour has not once offended me? How is it that I constantly find myself nodding and/or laughing hysterically whenever South Park relentlessly bashes a trend, religion or celebrity? The more I watch it, the more sure I become that South Park was created specifically for me. And over the years it has, amazingly, only gotten wittier!
Trey Parker and Matt Stone began the South Park phenomenon with two crudely animated and truly vulgar Christmas-themed short films in 1995 (less smart humour back then, for sure). What it all eventually evolved into was a show set, obviously, in the fictional town of South Park. We follow, primarily, the odd and often downright surreal adventures of four elementary school students – the intelligent Stan Marsh, his sarcastic Jewish best friend Kyle Broflovski, the delightfully evil and morbidly obese Eric Cartman (who hates minorities, Jews first) and the constantly dying Kenny McCormick, whose tendency to die once an episode has worn off over the years.
Some episodes, though, are centered around other South Park residents, such as the insanely wimpy Butters, the kids’ mean-spirited gay teacher Mr. Garrison, Stan’s lovably stupid father Randy, a chef named Chef (the late Isaac Hayes), Satan and Jesus Christ themselves, Canadian comedy duo Terrence & Phillip (whose intentionally immature poop humour perfectly mock what kids and Epic Movie-fans laugh at today), ill-tempered Chinese restaurant owner Toung Lu-Kim, and of course, the annoying towel himself, Towelie. There are also other kids, family members, townspeople and school staff but let’s not be here too long.
A lot of the comedy in South Park comes from violence and toilet humour, yes, but unlike modern “comedians” like, say, Adam Sandler or PewDiePie, Parker and Stone always have clever and sometimes bizarre ways of utilizing this kind of humour. Although what truly makes South Park shine is the absolutely merciless satire. Oh God, the satire!
Not only are Parker and Stone’s jokes always up to date with what’s trending and what’s current news, but the exaggerated way in which they mercilessly poke fun at the stupidity of practically everyone is simply admirable. They have made fun of countless politicians, stupid trends, stupid teens, celebrities like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Tom Cruise and The Jonas Brothers, almost all religions, gamers, anime, the police plus their uselessness, crappy TV shows like Jersey Shore, bad films like High School Musical, the war on terrorism and just about everything that has at some point been what everyone talks about. And every time they do, they show very little remorse towards the people they’re attacking and/or the people their jokes might offend, and I simply LOVE that!
Another thing that’s typical when the show pokes fun at how stupid many people are, is that they also mock how seriously people tend to take certain things. For instance, one of my all-time favourite episodes, Make Love Not Warcraft, holds up a mirror to gamers and jokes about how seriously they take the world of gaming, especially if the game happens to be called World of Warcraft. After all I’ve said about gaming on the blog, you’d probably think that my favourite episode is the one where gamers are being made fun of on a level that could only ever be found on South Park, right? Not quite.
When talking about a show, one is almost obligated to mention one’s favourite episode. Mine would easily have to be The Coon Saga three-parter from Season 14. The plot: Cartman brings back his superhero alter-ego The Coon from Season 13 and assembles a team of other kids dressed as their own silly superheroes, but their crime-fighting is constantly being interrupted by Captain Hindsight, a hero with the much respected power to tell firefighters and cops what they should have done to save everyone. That’s not the best part, though. Cartman is thrown out of his own hero club but when an oil company accidentally drills a hole into another dimension, releasing Cthulhu, Cartman simply allies with the monster, My Neighbour Totoro-style. Still not the best part. We get a scene where, when allegedly “fighting crime”, Cartman makes Cthulhu pick up Justin Bieber during a concert and squish him like a bug. Guess what? Still not the best part.
No, the best part is a serious and actually kinda scary moment when (SPOILERS) Kenny (as Mysterion) monologues about his superpower which is – are you ready? – his inability to die. Yes, Kenny is actually aware that he constantly dies but is cursed with the fact that no one remembers any of his gruesome deaths. He always returns in his bed, alive, with his same old clothes, no one ever remembering that he’s been gone. Exploring a sad mythology of what was originally just a silly running gag? Awesome! (END SPOILERS!) So yeah, that’s by far the best episode! Runners up: Make Love, Not Warcraft, The Jeffersons and the 200th episode special, which was basically just one giant homage to all the famous people South Park has offended over the years. Such nostalgia.
South Park is undoubtedly my all-time favourite show. I love how stupid/evil/weird all the characters are, I adore the surreal and twisted storylines, I love how the simplistic animation is still basically the same, I adore the music/songs, and of course, I admire how a show can be so offensive and so remorseless towards almost everyone without ever making me feel like the victim. It is divine. It is just absolutely divine.
And don’t get me started on when the show becomes genuinely sad or heartwarming. Even when being serious, these offensive, cynical satirists are just golden!