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South Park is one of the most misunderstood, and also the most
intelligent shows on television.
South Park is a satirical look on most anything from Western society - politics, the media, today's youth, celebrities, violence in our society, and much much more. However, instead of presenting these issues as they are, they alternately project them through the exploits of four young boys in South Park, Colorado.
Unfortunately, many people take the show solely at face value, refusing to see the intelligence in it - South Park is admittedly filled with racist and sexist jokes, along with other offensive material. The problem lies within the fact that most people don't seem to understand the concept of satire and self parody.
I admit that I, myself, was one of these people - for years I refused to watch that "garbage," until finally a friend forced me to actually watch a whole episode, and I realized that the show was actually making a point.
So, if you haven't done so, go - watch an episode. You'll feel smarter when you're done.
I don't know why this show is getting such negative reviews. A lot of people (adults mainly) keep assuming South Park is nothing more than wall to wall curse words and gross out jokes. Far from it. Sure, they swear and there is an occasional gross out jokes, but the show is also filled with quality and classic humor. The plots are genius. So what if it's offensive. Big deal! For some reason, people assume that cartoons are just for little babies, and some people appear to have difficulty accepting the fact that times have changed and animation is not just for kids anymore. Face it, we are living in an age of shows like South Park. Can't deal with it? Then that's just too bad.
Network: Comedy Central; Genre: Animated Comedy, Satire, Parody;
Content Rating: TV-MA (for dark comic content and graphic language,
sexual content, violence & animated gore); Available: DVD;
Classification: Modern Classic (Star range expanded: 1 - 5);
Season Reviewed: 10+ seasons
Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflowfski, Eric Cartman and (sometimes) the ill-fated Kenny McCormick are 8-year-old boys growing up amid an adult world in the backward, frozen-over mountain town of South Park, Colorado. Their adventures, that make up creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's animated comedy "South Park", include fending off everything from supernatural demons to the biggest names in the Hollywood intelligentsia. "South Park" is several things. It's rude, crude, shocking, smart, decidedly adult, completely original, and it is indulgent in the whims and imaginations of it's creators. It's also the very best political, pop culture and current event satire on television.
The show started as something of a fad - the new vulgar, don't-let-the-kids-watch show on the block. But as real world events changed, "Park" evolved along with them. Standing as the kings on top of a soap box they constructed out of swearing kids, talking poo, homosexual hand puppets and hermaphroditic parents; Parker and Stone where blessed with the freedom of a hit series, hip status and a network that gave them the freedom to do whatever they want. As the show aged, they matured in their storytelling abilities and the show went from shock value fad to a barbed satire of American culture.
"Park" is brought to life with oddly beautiful, vibrantly colored 2-dimensional cut-and-paste animation. The episodes are masterfully constructed. The writing a witty showcase of Parker and Stone's love for pop culture parody, graphic violence, pornography and a bold willingness to take on the hot button issues of the week. It is a free-for-all virtuoso where nothing and nobody is safe, every establishment media position gets flipped on it's head and every politically correct sacred cow gets eviscerated. Now that's comedy - if you can stomach a barrage of extreme scatological humor with your social satire. The vomit jokes and fat jokes on "Park" aren't there for the sake of it, but have substance behind them. And nobody does them better.
Eric Cartman, Mr. Garrison and more recently Randy Marsh (stepping up as a reliably hilarious scene-stealer) are classic characters, but Parker and Stone have gone further and developed an entire town of colorful caricatures. They aren't made to be as endearing as those in "The Simpsons", but aren't supposed to be. The characters aren't just vacuous idiots, and the laughs of the show come from a very socially conscious place.
Straight men Stan and Kyle are the show's most underdeveloped. They serve mostly as a mouthpiece for Parker and Stone's conservative libertarian philosophy, often literally giving a speech to a crowd in the show's finale. There is not a single other place on TV where you can see environmentalists, the anti-smoking lobby, illegal immigrants, trial lawyers, news media hysteria, elitist Hollywood liberals, abortion, sex ed in schools and every celebrity from Mel Gibson to Paris Hilton all get ripped to shreds. The show pulls it off because it has a unique ability to deconstruct and reconstruct current events better than anyone else (notably Comedy Central's overrated "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"), giving them a hilarious or supernatural explanation without moralizing getting in the way of the laughs. They take their own messages to such loony extremes it's impossible to take seriously.The cherry on top is the seemingly endless quality of the original songs provided by the creator's cover band, DVDA.
With a skeleton crew that writes, directs, animates, voices and scores the show, this is independent television in it's purest form. This means it often labors on Parker and Stone's geeky indulgences - episodes center around a full-length "Star Wars" parody, the class gerbil making it's way up a human bowel or Timmy, a handicapped student who can only say his name. Occasionally, their shock value execution creates a gagging reaction that obscures an otherwise brilliant point ("Fat Camp"). But I'd rather have a show that challenges me than one shackled to clichés and network mandates. When "South Park" goes for the shocking ending, you better believe it actually will shock.
Still, "South Park" is almost impossible to recommend in a casual sense. The show is truly an acquired taste, but one I have to come to support whole-heartedly through the years despite (and because) I have absolutely no idea what to expect when sitting down for a new episode. How rare is that? Where so many other shows cower in the corner, begging for our approval "South Park" is constantly taking risks and re-inventing itself. We've got terrific stunt episodes, episodes built around one joke or building to a single knock-out punch line. They use the smash-cut ending better than anyone ("There Goes the Neighborhood"). Sometimes the experiments are to it's own detriment and the episode is a 22 minute bore, but even then it's almost unheard of to find a show in it's 10th season that is still water cooler television.
"South Park" grabs us by the collar, shakes us around and dares even it's biggest fans to come back next week for more. The show is a monument of creative freedom with a wicked imagination, a true (and hilariously funny) sense of comic timing, and an insightful, socially conscious ear that smartly reflects a point of view starving for attention in mainstream television. It is a hugely entertaining, fiercely visceral, fire-breathing, red-blooded American satire made by, for (and most appreciated by) the most jaded and discriminating TV viewers. We just don't have shows like this on TV today. Anywhere.
* * * * * / 5
Both cartoons and sci-fi have long been the only place where
thought-provoking social commentary can take place, unmolested by
censorship, and both are all too frequently dismissed because of their
least important characteristics. South Park is an intelligent, humorous
and thought-provoking show that is often ignored or decried by people
who judge it only by the very things it deliberately throws in their
face, such as profanity, simple animation, and graphic violence,
because the creators know that people like this are easily offended by
these things, and will always miss the point. The simplicity of the
animation, for example, has been criticised by people who miss the
point that it's deliberately meant to be simple, in the face of those
high-budget major studio cartoons that are more concerned with using
cgi and selling toys than having anything to say. Nope, this isn't a
show for those who don't appreciate irony. The episodes tackle a wide
range of issues, from 9/11 to violence on television to celebrity
obsession to religion, through the use of comedy, which is usually the
best way to handle such matters.
The main characters are four children who are basically mouthpieces for their creator's opinions, expressing views that would sound arrogant coming from adults. Stan represents the liberal viewpoint, as does his friend Kyle, who as a practising Jew, allows opportunity for religious comment. Is the show anti-religious? No, but fundamentalists like to think it is. It has the essential message of 'believe what you like, but leave me alone'. And of course there's Eric Cartman, the ignorant foul-mouthed selfish redneck, and funny as hell. Sometimes I think he's there to remind us not to take anyone like him seriously. That and to provide a lot of the show's humour. Easily my favourite character. Other characters on the show usually represent majority/opposing views as the plot requires.
Like any long-running show, some episodes are better than others, not all have something to say, and not all are funny. But creators Stone and Parker 'retool' the show periodically with new characters, and try to keep up with current events, and I enjoyed the latest series (8th) for these very reasons. I've watched since the beginning, but they're making an effort not to let South Park go stale.
No doubt South Park will continue to be derided by those who think the most important social problem today is swearing, yet have probably never sat down to watch an episode. And beside them will be the offended parent brigade who still haven't learned that not all cartoons are for children. But the rest of us will still be here to enjoy it, hopefully exchanging righteous indignation for a few laughs and maybe a thought or two about the world we live in. If you've never seen South Park, don't listen to the hype. Watch it and decide for yourself. Hopefully you'll be glad you did.
I remember when these four little boys were nothing but private greeting
card art. Now look at them!
In all seriousness, I love this show. This is the funniest adult cartoon there is, and thank GOODNESS Comedy Central took this series and allowed the creators to do "almost" anything. If there was an alternate universe for "Peanuts", you've hit it in "South Park".
There are very few (if none) episodes I didn't like. We all have our favorites, and my number one is still "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe". I laughed until I cried on that one. The next one that is very close to that is last years (2002) Christmas Special when Jesus was "packing" to rescue Santa out of Iraq after he was shot down. This was one of those episodes where I DARE you not to laugh and enjoy it.
The supporting cast about South Park is also stellular. The lives (and minds) that intertwine with Stan, Cartman, Kenny and Kyle are just hilarious. Chef, Mr. Garrison. Kyles Mom and Dad, Cartman's Mother, Butters, Timmy!, Sherrif Bar Brady, Principal Victoria, Wendy, BeBe, and..Big Gay Al..etc....etc..you name it, they are just too much.
Wonderful and ground-breaking (even though the animation isn't state of the art) nothing is out of bounds for these guys...South Park is an instant classic and a great time to be had by all.
Matt and Trey need to be commended for this series. It takes shots at
EVERYTHING, and it does it in really questionable taste. But that's why I
love it. Because, beneath the crude language and vulgar humor, South Park
contains one of most biting satires in existence. This show is hilarious,
constantly taking current events, such as Stem Cell Research, or fads, like
the infamous Poke'mon craze, and spinning their own view on them. Thank
you, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Thank you.
BOTTOM LINE: One show I try to never miss on Wednesdays. This series gives me something to look for.
This is the show about the four foul mouthed little kids in Colorado. Well,
three now, with different kids rotating in and out to fill the spot that
Matt Stone and Trey Parker are comedic geniuses. I think that people who simply brush this off as uninspired pandering to foul mouthed kids like the ones in this show aren't looking deep enough. There is actually a lot of intelligent social commentary here - it's just masked under anything they could possibly offend someone with.
South Park is a great cartoon, even with it's occasional pitfalls every season. It combines satire, music and comedy to create a terrific masterpiece of an animated show. Trey Parker and Matt Stone bring the weekly antics of a inbred mountain town in a way that has never been done before and it is drop dead funny. Sometimes it seems like the seasons get better, sometimes they seem to get worse for some. But episodes like "Chinpokomon", "The Passion of the Jew", "Tolerance Camp", and "Clubhouse" are classics. And most episodes get funnier every single time I see it and thanks to Comedy Central giving Parker and Stone full control for language, nothing is out of bounds.
This show is great! The first series was very good, but then it dropped
a little in Series 2 and 3, however the introduction of Butters, Timmy and
Ms. Choksondik has made the series much much better. A great improvement
been made to series 4 and series 5 is even better.
The Simpsons maybe everyones favorite family, but this show is improving and quite frankly the Simpson's plots are getting worse.
South Park already has a movie (quite successful and a good laugh) and it hasn't finished it, unlike the apparent rumors that The Simpsons will be finished when the movie is being made.
How the kids respond to Kenny's death now has been improved, so you don't put up with "Oh my god, they killed Kenny" every week.
To finish, great show hope it goes on.
I read in complete disbelief the comments that called the show racist, homophobic, anti-religious and even one that said it promoted animal cruelty. LOL! There isn't a single race, religion, political group, sexuality, gender, nationality, celebrity etc etc that it doesn't make fun of. The show even pops fun at itself in some episodes, signalling to the world that they themselves are open to ridicule. If you think the show has a nasty message about a certain group then your just not getting it and i'm glad you have ceased watching and have moved on to more brain numbing programmes that don't cause you to think (might I recommend 'Friends').
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