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Wikipedia

South Park

This article is about the television series. For other uses, see South Park (disambiguation).

South Park is an American animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and developed by Brian Graden for Comedy Central. The series revolves around four boys—Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick—and their exploits in and around the titular Colorado town. South Park became infamous for its profanity and dark, surreal humor that satirizes a wide range of topics toward an adult audience.

South Park
The main characters, left to right: Cartman, Stan, Kenny (top), and Kyle.
GenreAnimated sitcom
Created by
Developed byBrian Graden
Voices of
Theme music composerLes Claypool
Composers
  • Adam Berry
  • Scott Nickoley
  • Jamie Dunlap
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons23
No. of episodes309(list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
CinematographyKenny Gioseffi (S3)
Running time22 minutes
Production companies
  • Celluloid Studios (1997)
  • Braniff Productions (1997–2006)
  • Parker-Stone Productions (2006–2007)
  • South Park Studios (2007–present)
  • Comedy Partners
DistributorViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
Release
Original networkComedy Central
Picture formatNTSC (1997–2008)
HDTV 1080i (2009–present)
Audio formatDolby Surround 2.0 (Seasons 1–11)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (Seasons 12–present)
Original releaseAugust 13, 1997 (1997-08-13)
present (present)
Chronology
Preceded byThe Spirit of Christmas
External links
Official website

Parker and Stone developed South Park from two animated short films both titled The Spirit of Christmas. The second short became one of the first Internet viral videos, ultimately leading to South Park's production. The pilot episode was produced using cutout animation, leading to all subsequent episodes being produced with computer animation that emulated the cutout technique. South Park features a very large ensemble cast of recurring characters.

Since its debut on August 13, 1997, 309 episodes of South Park have been broadcast. It debuted with great success, consistently earning the highest ratings of any basic cable program. Subsequent ratings have varied, but it remains one of Comedy Central's highest-rated programs. Two television specials, "The Pandemic Special" and "South ParQ Vaccination Special", respectively premiered in September 2020 and March 2021. In August 2021, Parker and Stone announced a deal with ViacomCBS which slates the show through season 30 in 2027 for Comedy Central, and the production of a series of films made exclusively for Paramount+ with two premiering later in 2021.

South Park has received numerous accolades, including five Primetime Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and numerous inclusions in various publications' lists of greatest television shows. A film based on the series, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, was released in June 1999 to commercial and critical success, garnering an Academy Award nomination. In 2013, TV Guide ranked South Park the tenth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time.

Contents

Setting and characters

The show follows the exploits of four boys, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick. The boys live in the fictional small town of South Park, located within the real-life South Park basin in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. The town is also home to an assortment of frequent characters such as students, families, elementary school staff, and other various residents, who tend to regard South Park as a bland, quiet place to live. Prominent settings on the show include the local elementary school, bus stop, various neighborhoods and the surrounding snowy landscape, actual Colorado landmarks, and the shops and businesses along the town's main street, all of which are based on the appearance of similar locations in Fairplay, Colorado. As one of the few long-running TV shows set in the Mountain West region that takes place outside the urban core of Denver, South Park frequently features the unique culture of the region, including cattle ranchers, Old West theme parks, snowy climates, mountaineering, Mormons, real-life Colorado locations such as Casa Bonita and Cave of the Winds, and many other regionally specific characteristics not frequently seen on national TV shows.

South Park current title image since Season 17 which features the four main characters and most of the recurring, supporting characters in the background

Stan is portrayed as the everyman of the group, as the show's website describes him as an "average, American 4th grader". Kyle is the lone Jew among the group, and his portrayal in this role is often dealt with satirically. Stan is modeled after Parker, while Kyle is modeled after Stone. They are best friends, and their friendship, symbolically intended to reflect Parker and Stone's friendship, is a common topic throughout the series. Eric Cartman (usually nicknamed by his surname only) is loud, obnoxious, and amoral, often portrayed as an antagonist. His anti-Semitic attitude has resulted in a progressive rivalry with Kyle, although the deeper reason is the strong clash between Kyle's strong morality and Cartman's complete lack of such. Kenny, who comes from a poor family, wears his parka hood so tightly that it covers most of his face and muffles his speech. During the show's first five seasons, Kenny died in nearly every episode before returning in the next with little-to-no definitive explanation given. He was written out of the show's sixth season in 2002, re-appearing in the season finale. Since then, Kenny's death has been seldom used by the show's creators. During the show's first 58 episodes, the boys were in the third grade. In the season four episode "4th Grade" (2000), they entered the fourth grade, and have remained there ever since.

Plots are often set in motion by events, ranging from the fairly typical to the supernatural and extraordinary, which frequently happen in the town. The boys often act as the voice of reason when these events cause panic or incongruous behavior among the adult populace, who are customarily depicted as irrational, gullible, and prone to vociferation. The boys are also frequently confused by the contradictory and hypocritical behavior of their parents and other adults, and often perceive them as having distorted views on morality and society.

Themes and style

Each episode opens with a tongue-in-cheek all persons fictitious disclaimer: "All characters and events in this show—even those based on real people—are entirely fictional. All celebrity voices are impersonated.....poorly. The following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone."

South Park was the first weekly program to be rated TV-MA, and is generally intended for adult audiences. The boys and most other child characters use strong profanity, with only the most taboo words being bleeped during a typical broadcast. Parker and Stone perceive this as the manner in which real-life small boys speak when they are alone.

South Park commonly makes use of carnivalesque and absurdist techniques, numerous running gags, violence, sexual content, offhand pop-cultural references, and satirical portrayal of celebrities.

Early episodes tended to be shock value-oriented and featured more slapstick-style humor. While social satire had been used on the show occasionally earlier on, it became more prevalent as the series progressed, with the show retaining some of its focus on the boys' fondness of scatological humor in an attempt to remind adult viewers "what it was like to be eight years old." Parker and Stone also began further developing other characters by giving them larger roles in certain storylines, and began writing plots as parables based on religion, politics, and numerous other topics. This provided the opportunity for the show to spoof both extreme sides of contentious issues, while lampooning both liberal and conservative points of view. Parker and Stone describe themselves as "equal opportunity offenders", whose main purpose is to "be funny" and "make people laugh", while stating that no particular topic or group of people be exempt from mockery and satire.

Parker and Stone insist that the show is still more about "kids being kids" and "what it's like to be in [elementary school] in America", stating that the introduction of a more satirical element to the series was the result of the two adding more of a "moral center" to the show so that it would rely less on simply being crude and shocking in an attempt to maintain an audience. While profane, Parker notes that there is still an "underlying sweetness" aspect to the child characters, and Time described the boys as "sometimes cruel but with a core of innocence." Usually, the boys or other characters pondered over what transpired during an episode and conveyed the important lesson taken from it with a short monologue. During earlier seasons, this speech commonly began with a variation of the phrase "You know, I've learned something today...".

South Park creators Trey Parker (left) and Matt Stone continue to do most of the writing, directing and voice acting on the show

Parker and Stone met in film class at the University of Colorado in 1992 and discovered a shared love of Monty Python, which they often cite as one of their primary inspirations. They created an animated short entitled The Spirit of Christmas. The film was created by animating construction paper cutouts with stop motion, and features prototypes of the main characters of South Park, including a character resembling Cartman but named "Kenny", an unnamed character resembling what is today Kenny, and two near-identical unnamed characters who resemble Stan and Kyle. Fox Broadcasting Company executive and mutual friend Brian Graden commissioned Parker and Stone to create a second short film as a video Christmas card. Created in 1995, the second The Spirit of Christmas short resembled the style of the later series more closely. To differentiate between the two homonymous shorts, the first short is often referred to as Jesus vs. Frosty, and the second short as Jesus vs. Santa. Graden sent copies of the video to several of his friends, and from there it was copied and distributed, including on the internet, where it became one of the first viral videos.

As Jesus vs. Santa became more popular, Parker and Stone began talks of developing the short into a television series about four children residing in the fictional Colorado town of South Park. Fox eagerly agreed to meet with the duo about the show's premise, having pride itself with edgier products such as Cops, The Simpsons, and The X-Files. However, during the meeting at the Fox office in Century City, disagreements between the two creators and the network began to arise, mainly over the latter's refusal to air a show that included a supporting talking stool character named Mr. Hankey. Some executives at 20th Century Fox Television (which was to produce the series) agreed with its then-sister network's stance on Mr. Hankey and repeatedly requested Parker and Stone to remove the character in order for the show to proceed. Refusing to their demands, the duo cut ties with Fox and its sister companies all together and began shipping the series somewhere else.

The two then entered negotiations with both MTV and Comedy Central. Parker preferred the show be produced by Comedy Central, fearing that MTV would turn it into a kids show. When Comedy Central executive Doug Herzog watched the short, he commissioned for it to be developed into a series. Parker and Stone assembled a small staff and spent three months creating the pilot episode "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe". South Park was in danger of being canceled before it even aired when the show fared poorly with test audiences, particularly with women. However, the shorts were still gaining more popularity over the Internet, and Comedy Central ordered a run of six episodes. South Park debuted with "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" on August 13, 1997.

Except for the pilot episode, which was produced using cutout animation, all episodes of South Park are created with the use of software, primarily Autodesk Maya. As opposed to the pilot, which took three months to complete, and other animated sitcoms, which are traditionally hand-drawn by companies in South Korea in a process that takes roughly eight to nine months, individual episodes of South Park take significantly less time to produce. Using computers as an animation method, the show's production staff were able to generate an episode in about three weeks during the first seasons. Now, with a staff of about 70 people, episodes are typically completed in one week, with some in as little as three to four days. Nearly the entire production of an episode is accomplished within one set of offices, which were originally at a complex in Westwood, Los Angeles, California and are now part of South Park Studios in Culver City, California. Parker and Stone have been the show's executive producers throughout its entire history. Debbie Liebling, who was Senior Vice President of original programming and development for Comedy Central, also served as an executive producer during the show's first five seasons, coordinating the show's production efforts between South Park Studios and Comedy Central's headquarters in New York City. During its early stages, finished episodes of South Park were hastily recorded to D-2 to be sent to Comedy Central for airing in just a few days' time.

Writing

The Border Patrol raid during the Elián González affair is referenced in "Quintuplets 2000", which aired within the same week the event occurred.

Scripts are not written before a season begins. Production of an episode begins on a Thursday, with the show's writing consultants brainstorming with Parker and Stone. Former staff writers include Pam Brady, who has since written scripts for the films Hot Rod, Hamlet 2 and Team America: World Police (with Parker and Stone), and Nancy Pimental, who served as co-host of Win Ben Stein's Money and wrote the film The Sweetest Thing after her tenure with the show during its first three seasons. Television producer and writer Norman Lear, an alleged idol of both Parker and Stone, served as a guest writing consultant for the season seven (2003) episodes "Cancelled" and "I'm a Little Bit Country". During the 12th and 13th seasons, Saturday Night Live actor and writer Bill Hader served as a creative consultant and co-producer.

After exchanging ideas, Parker will write a script, and from there the entire team of animators, editors, technicians, and sound engineers will each typically work 100–120 hours in the ensuing week. Since the show's fourth season (2000), Parker has assumed most of the show's directorial duties, while Stone relinquished his share of the directing to focus on handling the coordination and business aspects of the production. On Wednesday, a completed episode is sent to Comedy Central's headquarters via satellite uplink, sometimes just a few hours before its air time of 10 PM Eastern Time.

Parker and Stone state that subjecting themselves to a one-week deadline creates more spontaneity amongst themselves in the creative process, which they feel results in a funnier show. The schedule also allows South Park to both stay more topical and respond more quickly to specific current events than other satiric animated shows. One of the earliest examples of this was in the season four (2000) episode "Quintuplets 2000", which references the United States Border Patrol's raid of a house during the Elián González affair, an event which occurred only four days before the episode originally aired. The season nine (2005) episode "Best Friends Forever" references the Terri Schiavo case, and originally aired in the midst of the controversy and less than 12 hours before she died. A scene in the season seven (2003) finale "It's Christmas in Canada" references the discovery of dictator Saddam Hussein in a "spider hole" and his subsequent capture, which happened a mere three days prior to the episode airing. The season 12 (2008) episode "About Last Night..." revolves around Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election, and aired less than 24 hours after Obama was declared the winner, using segments of dialogue from Obama's real victory speech.

On October 16, 2013, the show failed to meet their production deadline for the first time ever, after a power outage on October 15 at the production studio prevented the episode, season 17's "Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers", from being finished in time. The episode was rescheduled to air a week later on October 23, 2013. On August 6, 2021, South Park was renewed all the way up to season 30 and 14 additional movies, enough to carry the show to at least 2027.

Animation

The various stages of production (from top to bottom): the storyboard sketch, the CorelDRAW props with stock character models, and a frame from the fully rendered episode, "Super Fun Time"

The show's style of animation is inspired by the paper cut-out cartoons made by Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Parker and Stone have been lifelong fans. Construction paper and traditional stop motion cutout animation techniques were used in the original animated shorts and in the pilot episode. Subsequent episodes have been produced by computer animation, providing a similar look to the originals while requiring a fraction of the time to produce. Before computer artists begin animating an episode, a series of animatics drawn in Toon Boom are provided by the show's storyboard artists.

The characters and objects are composed of simple geometrical shapes and primary and secondary colors. Most child characters are the same size and shape, and are distinguished by their clothing, hair and skin colors, and headwear. Characters are mostly presented two-dimensionally and from only one angle. Their movements are animated in an intentionally jerky fashion, as they are purposely not offered the same free range of motion associated with hand-drawn characters. Occasionally, some non-fictional characters are depicted with photographic cutouts of their actual head and face in lieu of a face reminiscent of the show's traditional style. Canadians on the show are often portrayed in an even more minimalist fashion; they have simple beady eyes, and the top halves of their heads simply flap up and down when the characters speak.

When the show began using computers, the cardboard cutouts were scanned and re-drawn with CorelDRAW, then imported into PowerAnimator, which was used with SGI workstations to animate the characters. The workstations were linked to a 54-processor render farm that could render 10 to 15 shots an hour. Beginning with season five, the animators began using Maya instead of PowerAnimator. The studio now runs a 120-processor render farm that can produce 30 or more shots an hour.

PowerAnimator and Maya are high-end programs mainly used for 3D computer graphics, while co-producer and former animation director Eric Stough notes that PowerAnimator was initially chosen because its features helped animators retain the show's "homemade" look. PowerAnimator was also used for making some of the show's visual effects, which are now created using Motion, a newer graphics program created by Apple, Inc. for their Mac OS X operating system. The show's visual quality has improved in recent seasons, though several other techniques are used to intentionally preserve the cheap cutout animation look.

A few episodes feature sections of live-action footage, while others have incorporated other styles of animation. Portions of the season eight (2004) premiere "Good Times with Weapons" are done in anime style, while the season 10 episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" is done partly in machinima. The season 12 episode "Major Boobage", a homage to the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal, implements scenes accomplished with rotoscoping.

Voice cast

Parker and Stone voice most of the male South Park characters. Mary Kay Bergman voiced the majority of the female characters until her death in November 1999. Mona Marshall and Eliza Schneider succeeded Bergman, with Schneider leaving the show after its seventh season (2003). She was replaced by April Stewart, who, along with Marshall, continues to voice most of the female characters. Bergman was originally listed in the credits under the alias Shannen Cassidy to protect her reputation as the voice of several Disney and other kid-friendly characters. Stewart was originally credited under the name Gracie Lazar, while Schneider was sometimes credited under her rock opera performance pseudonym Blue Girl.

Other voice actors and members of South Park's production staff have voiced minor characters for various episodes, while a few staff members voice recurring characters; supervising producer Jennifer Howell voices student Bebe Stevens, co-producer and storyboard artist Adrien Beard voices Token Black, who was the school's only African-American student until the introduction of Nichole in "Cartman Finds Love", writing consultant Vernon Chatman voices an anthropomorphic towel named Towelie, and production supervisor John Hansen voices Mr. Slave, the former gay lover of Mr. Garrison. Throughout the show's run, the voices for toddler and kindergarten characters have been provided by various small children of the show's production staff.

When voicing child characters, the voice actors speak within their normal vocal range while adding a childlike inflection. The recorded audio is then edited with Pro Tools, and the pitch is altered to make the voice sound more like that of a fourth grader.

Isaac Hayes voiced the character of Chef, an African-American, soul-singing cafeteria worker who was one of the few adults the boys consistently trusted. Hayes agreed to voice the character after being among Parker and Stone's ideal candidates, which also included Lou Rawls and Barry White. Hayes, who lived and hosted a radio show in New York during his tenure with South Park, recorded his dialogue on a digital audio tape while a director gave directions over the phone, after which the tape would be shipped to the show's production studio in California. After Hayes left the show in early 2006, the character of Chef was killed off in the season 10 (2006) premiere "The Return of Chef".

Guest stars

Celebrities who are depicted on the show are usually impersonated, though some celebrities do their own voices for the show. Celebrities who have voiced themselves include Michael Buffer, Brent Musburger, Jay Leno, Robert Smith, and the bands Radiohead and Korn. Comedy team Cheech & Chong voiced characters representing their likenesses for the season four (2000) episode "Cherokee Hair Tampons", which was the duo's first collaborative effort in 20 years. Malcolm McDowell appears in live-action sequences as the narrator of the season four episode "Pip".

Jennifer Aniston, Richard Belzer, Natasha Henstridge, Norman Lear, and Peter Serafinowicz have guest starred as other speaking characters. During South Park's earliest seasons, several high-profile celebrities inquired about guest-starring on the show. As a joke, Parker and Stone responded by offering low-profile, non-speaking roles, most of which were accepted; George Clooney provided the barks for Stan's dog Sparky in the season one (1997) episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride", Leno provided the meows for Cartman's cat in the season one finale "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut", and Henry Winkler voiced the various growls and grunts of a kid-eating monster in the season two (1998) episode "City on the Edge of Forever". Jerry Seinfeld offered to lend his voice for the Thanksgiving episode "Starvin' Marvin", but declined to appear when he was only offered a role as "Turkey #2".

Music

Chef would often sing in a style reminiscent of that of his voice actor, Isaac Hayes

Parker says that the varying uses of music is of utmost importance to South Park. Several characters often play or sing songs in order to change or influence a group's behavior, or to educate, motivate, or indoctrinate others. The show also frequently features scenes in which its characters have disapproving reactions to the performances of certain popular musicians.

Adam Berry, the show's original score composer, used sound synthesis to simulate a small orchestra, and frequently alluded to existing famous pieces of music. Berry also used signature acoustic guitar and mandolin cues as leitmotifs for the show's establishing shots. After Berry left in 2001, Jamie Dunlap and Scott Nickoley of the Los Angeles-based Mad City Production Studios provided the show's original music for the next seven seasons. Since 2008, Dunlap has been credited as the show's sole score composer. Dunlap's contributions to the show are one of the few that are not achieved at the show's own production offices. Dunlap reads a script, creates a score using digital audio software, and then e-mails the audio file to South Park Studios, where it is edited to fit with the completed episode.

In addition to singing in an effort to explain something to the children, Chef would also sing about things relevant to what had transpired in the plot. These songs were original compositions written by Parker, and they were performed by Hayes in the same sexually suggestive R&B style he had used during his own music career. The band DVDA, which consists of Parker and Stone, along with show staff members Bruce Howell and D.A. Young, performed the music for these compositions and, until the character's death on the show, were listed as "Chef's Band" in the closing credits.

Rick James, Elton John, Meat Loaf, Joe Strummer, Ozzy Osbourne, Primus, Rancid, and Ween all guest starred and briefly performed in the season two (1998) episode "Chef Aid". Korn debuted their single "Falling Away from Me" as guest stars on the season three (1999) episode "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery".

Main theme

The show's theme song was a musical score performed by the band Primus, with the lyrics alternately sung by the band's lead singer, Les Claypool, and the show's four central characters during the opening title sequence. Kenny's muffled lines are altered after every few seasons. His lines are usually sexually explicit in nature, such as his original lines, "I like girls with big fat titties, I like girls with deep vaginas".

The end credits music, which is an instrumental, slower tempo version of the opening theme song.

The original unaired opening composition was originally slower and had a length of 40 seconds. It was deemed too long for the opening sequence. So Parker and Stone sped it up for the show's opening, having Claypool re-record his vocals. The instrumental version of the original composition is often played during the show's closing credits.

The opening song played in the first four seasons (and the end credits in all seasons) has a folk rock instrumentation with bass guitar, trumpets and rhythmic drums. Its beat is fast in the opening and leisurely in the closing credits. It is in the minor key and it features a tritone or a diminished fifth, creating a melodic dissonance, which captures the show's surrealistic nature. In the latter parts of season 4 and season 5, the opening tune has an electro funk arrangement with pop qualities. Seasons 6–9 have a sprightly bluegrass instrumentation with a usage of banjo and is set in the major key. For the later seasons, the arrangement is electro rock with a breakbeat influence, which feature electric guitars backed up by synthesized, groovy drumbeats.

The opening theme song has been remixed three times during the course of the series, including a remix performed by Paul Robb. In 2006, the theme music was remixed with the song "Whamola" by Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, from the album Purple Onion.

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
113August 13, 1997 (1997-08-13)February 25, 1998 (1998-02-25)
218April 1, 1998 (1998-04-01)January 20, 1999 (1999-01-20)
317April 7, 1999 (1999-04-07)January 12, 2000 (2000-01-12)
417April 5, 2000 (2000-04-05)December 20, 2000 (2000-12-20)
514June 20, 2001 (2001-06-20)December 12, 2001 (2001-12-12)
617March 6, 2002 (2002-03-06)December 11, 2002 (2002-12-11)
715March 19, 2003 (2003-03-19)December 17, 2003 (2003-12-17)
814March 17, 2004 (2004-03-17)December 15, 2004 (2004-12-15)
914March 9, 2005 (2005-03-09)December 7, 2005 (2005-12-07)
1014March 22, 2006 (2006-03-22)November 15, 2006 (2006-11-15)
1114March 7, 2007 (2007-03-07)November 14, 2007 (2007-11-14)
1214March 12, 2008 (2008-03-12)November 19, 2008 (2008-11-19)
1314March 11, 2009 (2009-03-11)November 18, 2009 (2009-11-18)
1414March 17, 2010 (2010-03-17)November 17, 2010 (2010-11-17)
1514April 27, 2011 (2011-04-27)November 16, 2011 (2011-11-16)
1614March 14, 2012 (2012-03-14)November 7, 2012 (2012-11-07)
1710September 25, 2013 (2013-09-25)December 11, 2013 (2013-12-11)
1810September 24, 2014 (2014-09-24)December 10, 2014 (2014-12-10)
1910September 16, 2015 (2015-09-16)December 9, 2015 (2015-12-09)
2010September 14, 2016 (2016-09-14)December 7, 2016 (2016-12-07)
2110September 13, 2017 (2017-09-13)December 6, 2017 (2017-12-06)
2210September 26, 2018 (2018-09-26)December 12, 2018 (2018-12-12)
2310September 25, 2019 (2019-09-25)December 11, 2019 (2019-12-11)
Specials2September 30, 2020 (2020-09-30)March 10, 2021 (2021-03-10)

International

Internationally, South Park is broadcast in India, New Zealand, and several countries throughout Europe and Latin America on channels that are subsidiaries of Comedy Central and ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks, both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS. In distribution deals with Comedy Central, other independent networks also broadcast the series in other international markets. In Australia, the show is broadcast on The Comedy Channel, Comedy Central and free-to-air channel SBS Viceland (before 2009), while new episodes aired on SBS. The program also airs free-to-air in Australia on 10 Shake, a sister network to Comedy Central through ViacomCBS. The series is broadcast uncensored in Canada in English on The Comedy Network and, later, Much. South Park also airs in Irish on TG4 in Ireland, STV in Scotland, Comedy Central and MTV in the UK (previously on Sky One, Channel 4 and Viva, with 5Star recently picking up where Viva left off), B92 in Serbia, and on Game One and NRJ 12 in France. In September 2020, SBS, which aired South Park in Australia since 1997, removed South Park from its television line-up, though reruns could air on SBS Viceland.

Syndication

Broadcast syndication rights to South Park were acquired by Debmar-Mercury and Tribune Entertainment in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Episodes further edited for content began running in syndication on September 19, 2005, and are aired in the United States with the TV-14 rating. 20th Television replaced Tribune as co-distributor in early 2008. The series is currently aired in syndication in 90 percent of the television markets across the U.S. and Canada, where it generates an estimated US$25 million a year in advertising revenue. In 2019, CBS Television Distribution (the syndication arm of ViacomCBS, the parent company of Comedy Central), took over the full distribution rights following the acquisition of 21st Century Fox (parent of 20th Television) by The Walt Disney Company (who had employed Debmar-Mercury founder Mort Marcus as the head of their syndication division), distributing the show in syndication and ViacomCBS airings.

Home media

Complete seasons of South Park have been regularly released on their entirety on DVD since 2002, with season twenty-three being the most recently released. Several other themed DVD compilations have been released by Rhino Entertainment and Comedy Central, while the three-episode Imaginationland story arc was reissued straight-to-DVD as a full-length feature in 2008. Blu-ray releases started in 2008 with the release of season twelve. Subsequent seasons have been released in this format alongside the longer-running DVD releases. The first eleven seasons were released on Blu-ray for the first time in December 2017.

Streaming

In March 2008, Comedy Central made every episode of South Park available for free full-length on-demand legal streaming on the official South Park Studios website. From March 2008 until December 2013 new episodes were added to the site the day following their debut, and an uncensored version was posted the following day. The episode stayed up for the remainder of the week, then taken down, and added to the site three weeks later.

Within a week, the site served more than a million streams of full episodes, and the number grew to 55 million by October 2008. Legal issues prevent the U.S. content from being accessible outside the U.S., so local servers have been set up in other countries. In September 2009, a South Park Studios website with streaming episodes was launched in the UK and Ireland. In Canada, episodes were available for streaming from The Comedy Network's website, though due to digital rights restrictions, they are no longer available.

In July 2014 it was announced that Hulu had signed a three-year deal purchasing exclusive online streaming rights to the South Park for a reported $80 million. Following the announcement every episode remained available for free on the South Park Studios website, using the Hulu player. As of September 2014, following the premiere of the eighteenth season, only 30 select episodes are featured for free viewing at a time on a rationing basis on the website, with new episodes being available for an entire month starting the day following their original airings. The entire series is available for viewing on Hulu.

In April 2010, the season five episode "Super Best Friends" and the season fourteen episodes "200" and "201" were removed from the site; additionally, these episodes no longer air in reruns and are only available exclusively on DVD and Blu-ray. These episodes remain unavailable following the 2014 purchase by Hulu.

As of July 1, 2015, all episodes of South Park are available for streaming in Canada on the service CraveTV, which first consisted of seasons 1–18. Subsequent seasons were released the following July.

In early October 2019, industry rumors suggested that the streaming rights for South Park were being offered to various services, creating an intense bidding war that was estimated to be as high asUS$500 million. HBO and South Park Digital Studios announced that HBO had secured a multi-year deal for the exclusive streaming rights for South Park on their HBO Max service starting June 24, 2020. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Variety reported the deal fell betweenUS$500 million andUS$550 million.

Re-rendered episodes

From its debut in 1997 to the season twelve finale in 2008 the series had been produced in standard definition. In 2009, the series switched to being produced in high definition 1080p with the beginning of the thirteenth season. Since this, all seasons originally produced in standard definition have been remastered by South Park Studios, being fully re-rendered in high definition. The re-rendered versions were also released on Blu-ray. Several of the re-rendered episodes from the earlier seasons have their original uncensored audio tracks; they had previously been released in censored form.

The fifth-season episode "Super Best Friends", which was pulled from syndication and online streams following the controversy surrounding episode "201", was not released alongside the rest of the season when it was released in HD on iTunes in 2011. The episode was later re-rendered and made available for the Blu-ray release of the season that was released on December 5, 2017. The episode is presented in its original presentation, without Muhammad's image being obscured as in later episodes of the series.

Ratings

When South Park debuted, it was a huge ratings success for Comedy Central and is seen as being largely responsible for the success of the channel, with Herzog crediting it for putting the network "on the map".

The show's first episode, "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", earned a Nielsen rating of 1.3 (980,000 viewers), at the time considered high for a cable program. The show instantly generated buzz among television viewers, and mass viewing parties began assembling on college campuses. By the time the eighth episode, "Starvin' Marvin", aired — three months after the show debuted — ratings and viewership had tripled, and South Park was already the most successful show in Comedy Central's history. When the tenth episode "Damien" aired the following February, viewership increased another 33 percent. The episode earned a 6.4 rating, which at the time was over 10 times the average rating earned by a cable show aired in prime time. The ratings peaked with the second episode of season two, "Cartman's Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut", which aired on April 22, 1998. The episode earned an 8.2 rating (6.2 million viewers) and, at the time, set a record as the highest-rated non-sports show in basic cable history. During the spring of 1998, eight of the ten highest-rated shows on basic cable were South Park episodes.

The success of South Park prompted more cable companies to carry Comedy Central and led it to its becoming one of the fastest-growing cable channels. The number of households that had Comedy Central jumped from 9.1 million in 1997 to 50 million in June 1998. When the show debuted, the most Comedy Central had earned for a 30-second commercial was US$7,500. Within a year, advertisers were paying an average of US$40,000 for 30 seconds of advertising time during airings of South Park in its second season, while some paid as much as US$80,000.

By the third season (1999), the series' ratings began to decrease. The third-season premiere episode drew 3.4 million viewers, a dramatic drop from the 5.5 million of the previous season's premiere. Stone and Parker attributed this drop in the show's ratings to the media hype that surrounded the show in the previous year, adding that the third season ratings reflected the show's "true" fan base. The show's ratings dropped further in its fourth season (2000), with episodes averaging just above 1.5 million viewers. The ratings eventually increased, and seasons five through nine consistently averaged about 3 million viewers per episode. Though its viewership is lower than it was at the height of its popularity in its earliest seasons, South Park remains one of the highest-rated series on Comedy Central. The season 14 (2010) premiere gained 3.7 million viewers, the show's highest-rated season premiere since 1998. In 2016, a New York Times study of the 50 TV shows with the most Facebook Likes found that "perhaps unsurprisingly, South Park ... is most popular in Colorado". More recent seasons have seen substantially lower ratings, with the 2019 season averaging 0.82 million viewers an episode.

Recognitions and awards

In 2004, Channel 4 voted South Park the third-greatest cartoon of all time. In 2007, Time magazine included the show on its list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time", proclaiming it as "America's best source of rapid-fire satire for [the past] decade". The same year, Rolling Stone declared it to be the funniest show on television since its debut 10 years prior. In 2008, South Park was named the 12th-greatest TV show of the past 25 years by Entertainment Weekly, while AOL declared it as having the "most astute" characters of any show in history when naming it the 16th-best television comedy series of all time. In 2011, South Park was voted number one in the 25 Greatest Animated TV Series poll by Entertainment Weekly. The character of Cartman ranked 10th on TV Guide's 2002 list of the "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters", 198th on VH1's "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons", 19th on Bravo's "100 Greatest TV Characters" television special in 2004, and second on MSNBC's 2005 list of TV's scariest characters behind Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. In 2006, Comedy Central received a Peabody Award for South Park's "stringent social commentary" and "undeniably fearless lampooning of all that is self-important and hypocritical in American life". In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked South Park at number 63 among the "101 Best-Written Shows Ever". Also in 2013, TV Guide listed the show at number 10 among the "60 Greatest Cartoons of All Time". In 2019, the series was ranked 42nd on The Guardian newspaper's list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century.

South Park won the CableACE Award for Best Animated Series in 1997, the last year the awards were given out. In 1998, South Park was nominated for the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Primetime or Late Night Television Program. It was also nominated for the 1998 GLAAD Award for Outstanding TV – Individual Episode for "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride".

South Park has been nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program sixteen times (1998, 2000, 2002, 2004–2011, and 2013–2017). The show has won the award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour) four times, for the 2005 episode "Best Friends Forever", the 2006 episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft", the 2009 episode "Margaritaville", and the 2012 episode "Raising the Bar". The "Imaginationland" trilogy of episodes won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More) in 2008.

Criticism

The show's frequent depiction of taboo subject matter, general toilet humor, accessibility to younger viewers, disregard for conservative sensibilities, negative depiction of liberal causes, and portrayal of religion for comic effect have generated controversy and debate over the course of its run.

As the series became popular, students in two schools were barred from wearing South Park-related T-shirts, and the headmaster of a UK public school asked parents not to let their children watch the programme after eight- and nine-year-old children voted the South Park character Cartman as their favorite personality in a 1999 poll. Parker and Stone assert that the show is not meant to be viewed by young children, and the show is certified with TV ratings that indicate its intention for mature audiences.

Parents Television Council founder L. Brent Bozell III and Action for Children's Television founder Peggy Charren have both condemned the show, with the latter claiming it is "dangerous to the democracy". Several other activist groups have protested the show's parodies of Christianity and portrayal of Jesus Christ. Stone has stated that parents who disapprove of South Park for its portrayal of how kids behave are upset because they "have an idyllic vision of what kids are like", adding "[kids] don't have any kind of social tact or etiquette, they're just complete little raging bastards".

Controversies

The show further lampooned the controversy surrounding its use of profanity, as well as the media attention surrounding the network show Chicago Hope's singular use of the word shit, with the season five premiere "It Hits the Fan", in which the word shit is said 162 times without being bleeped for censorship purposes, while also appearing uncensored in written form. In the days following the show's original airing, 5,000 disapproving e-mails were sent to Comedy Central. Despite its 43 uncensored uses of the racial slur nigger, the season 11 episode "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" generated relatively little controversy, as most in the black community and the NAACP praised the episode for its context and its comedic way of conveying other races' perceptions of how black people feel when hearing the word.

Specific controversies regarding the show have included an April Fools' Day prank played on its viewers in 1998, its depiction of the Virgin Mary in the season nine (2005) finale "Bloody Mary" that angered several Catholics, its depiction of Steve Irwin with a stingray barb stuck in his chest in the episode "Hell on Earth 2006", which originally aired less than two months after Irwin was killed in the same fashion, Comedy Central's censorship of the depiction of Muhammad in the season 10 episode "Cartoon Wars Part II" in the wake of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and consistent mockery of the concept of climate change by using climate change denialist talking points.

The season nine (2005) episode "Trapped in the Closet" denounces Scientology as nothing more than "a big fat global scam", while freely divulging church information that Scientology normally only reveals to members who make significant monetary contributions to the church. The episode also ambiguously parodies the rumors involving the sexual orientation of Scientologist Tom Cruise, who allegedly demanded any further reruns of the episode be canceled. Isaac Hayes, a Scientologist, later quit South Park because of his objection to the episode.

The season fourteen episodes "200" and "201" were mired in controversy for satirizing issues surrounding the depiction of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. The website for the organization Revolution Muslim, a New York-based radical Muslim organization, posted an entry that included a warning to creators Parker and Stone that they risk violent retribution for their depictions of Muhammad. It said that they "will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show". The posting provided the addresses to Comedy Central in New York and the production company in Los Angeles. The author of the post, Zachary Adam Chesser (whose alias is Abu Talhah al-Amrikee), said it was meant to serve as a warning to Parker and Stone, not a threat, and that providing the addresses was meant to give people the opportunity to protest.

Despite Chesser's claims that the website entry was a warning, several media outlets and observers interpreted it as a threat. Support for the episode has come in the form of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, a movement started on Facebook that encourages people to draw Muhammad on May 20. The "200" episode, which also depicted the Buddha snorting cocaine, prompted the government of Sri Lanka to ban the series outright.

Due to many taboo topics in China, such as Dalai Lama, Winnie the Pooh, summary execution, cannabis culture, and organ harvesting being involved in the season 23 (2019) episode "Band in China", South Park was entirely banned in China after the episode's broadcast. The series' Baidu Baike article, Baidu Tieba forum, Douban page, Zhihu page and Bilibili videos have been deleted or inaccessible to the public, all related keywords and topics have been prohibited from being searched and discussed on China-based search engines and social media sites including Baidu, QQ, Sina Weibo and on WeChat public platforms. Parker and Stone issued a sarcastic apology in response.

Cultural

Commentary made in episodes has been interpreted as statements Parker and Stone are attempting to make to the viewing public, and these opinions have been subject to much critical analysis in the media and literary world within the framework of popular philosophical, theological, social, and political concepts. Since South Park debuted, college students have written term papers and doctoral theses analyzing the show, while Brooklyn College offers a course called "South Park and Political Correctness".

Soon after one of Kenny's trademark deaths on the show, other characters would typically shout "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!", followed by another yelling out "You bastards!"—these lines were usually said by the characters Stan and Kyle, respectively. The exclamation quickly became a popular catchphrase, while the running gag of Kenny's recurring deaths is one of the more recognized hallmarks among viewers of modern television. Cartman's exclamations of "Respect my authori-tah!" and "Screw you guys ...I'm going home!" became catchphrases as well, and during the show's earlier seasons, were highly popular in the lexicon of viewers. Cartman's eccentric intonation of "Hey!" was included in the 2002 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Catchphrases.

In the season two episode "Chef Aid", attorney Johnnie Cochran uses what's called in the show the Chewbacca defense, which is a legal strategy that involves addressing plot holes related to Chewbacca in the film Return of the Jedi rather than discussing the trial at hand during a closing argument in a deliberate attempt to confuse jurors into thinking there is reasonable doubt. The term "Chewbacca defense" has been documented as being used by criminologists, forensic scientists, and political commentators in their various discussions of similar methods used in legal cases and public forums.

Another season two episode, "Gnomes", revolves around a group of "underpants gnomes" who, as their name suggests, run a corporation stealing people's underpants. When asked about their business model, various gnomes reply that theirs is a three-step process: Phase 1 is "collect underpants". Phase 3 is "profit". However, the gnomes are unable to explain what is to occur between the first and final steps, and "Phase 2" is accompanied by a large question mark on their corporate flow chart. Using "????" and "PROFIT!" as the last two steps in a process (usually jokingly) has become a widely popular Internet meme because of this. Especially in the context of politics and economics, "underpants gnomes" has been used by some commentators to characterize a conspicuous gap of logic or planning.

When Sophie Rutschmann of the University of Strasbourg discovered a mutated gene that causes an adult fruit fly to die within two days after it is infected with certain bacteria, she named the gene kep1 in honor of Kenny.

Political

While some conservatives have condemned South Park for its vulgarity, a growing population of people who hold center-right political beliefs, including teenagers and young adults, have embraced the show for its tendency to mock liberal viewpoints and lampoon liberal celebrities and icons. Political commentator Andrew Sullivan dubbed the group South Park Republicans, or South Park conservatives. Sullivan averred that members of the group are "extremely skeptical of political correctness but also are socially liberal on many issues", though he says the phrase applied to them is meant to be more of a casual indication of beliefs than a strong partisan label. Brian C. Anderson describes the group as "generally characterized by holding strong libertarian beliefs and rejecting more conservative social policy", and notes that although the show makes "wicked fun of conservatives", it is "at the forefront of a conservative revolt against liberal media" and Hollywood's "liberal hegemony."

Parker and Stone reject the idea that the show has any underlying political position, and deny having a political agenda when creating an episode. The two claim the show's higher proportion of instances lampooning liberal rather than conservative orthodoxies stems simply from their preference for making fun of liberals. While Stone has been quoted saying, "I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals", Stone and Parker have explained that their drive to lampoon a given target comes first from the target's insistence on telling other people how to behave. The duo explain that they regard liberals as having both delusions of entitlement to remain free from satire, and a propensity to enforce political correctness while patronizing the citizens of Middle America. Parker and Stone are uncomfortable with the idea of themselves or South Park being assigned any kind of partisan classification. Parker said he rejects the "South Park Republican" and "South Park conservative" labels, feeling that either tag implies that one only adheres to strictly conservative or liberal viewpoints. The duo has in the past reluctantly labeled themselves libertarians and fans of government gridlock. In 2006, they said that they were "rooting for Hillary Clinton in 2008 simply because it would be weird to have her as president."

For more information about films, shorts, music and merchandising, see South Park (franchise). For more information about video games, see List of South Park video games.
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Further Reading

South Park
South Park Language Watch Edit This article is about the television series For other uses see South Park disambiguation South Park is an American animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and developed by Brian Graden for Comedy Central The series revolves around four boys Stan Marsh Kyle Broflovski Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick and their exploits in and around the titular Colorado town South Park became infamous for its profanity and dark surreal humor that satirizes a wide range of topics toward an adult audience South ParkThe main characters left to right Cartman Stan Kenny top and Kyle GenreAnimated sitcomCreated byTrey Parker Matt StoneDeveloped byBrian GradenVoices ofTrey Parker Matt Stone Mary Kay Bergman Isaac Hayes Eliza Schneider Mona Marshall April StewartTheme music composerLes ClaypoolComposersAdam Berry Scott Nickoley Jamie DunlapCountry of originUnited StatesOriginal languageEnglishNo of seasons23No of episodes309 list of episodes ProductionExecutive producersTrey Parker Matt Stone Brian Graden Deborah Liebling Frank C Agnone II Bruce Howell Anne GarefinoProducersVernon Chatman Eric Stough Bruce Howell Adrien Beard Jack ShihCinematographyKenny Gioseffi S3 Running time22 minutes 1 Production companiesCelluloid Studios 1997 Braniff Productions 1997 2006 Parker Stone Productions 2006 2007 South Park Studios 2007 present Comedy PartnersDistributorViacomCBS Domestic Media NetworksReleaseOriginal networkComedy CentralPicture formatNTSC 1997 2008 HDTV 1080i 2009 present Audio formatDolby Surround 2 0 Seasons 1 11 Dolby Digital 5 1 Seasons 12 present Original releaseAugust 13 1997 1997 08 13 present present ChronologyPreceded byThe Spirit of ChristmasExternal linksOfficial website Parker and Stone developed South Park from two animated short films both titled The Spirit of Christmas The second short became one of the first Internet viral videos ultimately leading to South Park s production The pilot episode was produced using cutout animation leading to all subsequent episodes being produced with computer animation that emulated the cutout technique South Park features a very large ensemble cast of recurring characters Since its debut on August 13 1997 309 episodes of South Park have been broadcast It debuted with great success consistently earning the highest ratings of any basic cable program Subsequent ratings have varied but it remains one of Comedy Central s highest rated programs Two television specials The Pandemic Special and South ParQ Vaccination Special respectively premiered in September 2020 2 and March 2021 3 4 In August 2021 Parker and Stone announced a deal with ViacomCBS which slates the show through season 30 in 2027 for Comedy Central and the production of a series of films made exclusively for Paramount with two premiering later in 2021 5 South Park has received numerous accolades including five Primetime Emmy Awards a Peabody Award and numerous inclusions in various publications lists of greatest television shows A film based on the series South Park Bigger Longer amp Uncut was released in June 1999 to commercial and critical success garnering an Academy Award nomination In 2013 TV Guide ranked South Park the tenth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time 6 Contents 1 Premise 1 1 Setting and characters 1 2 Themes and style 2 Development 3 Production 3 1 Writing 3 2 Animation 3 3 Voice cast 3 3 1 Guest stars 3 4 Music 3 4 1 Main theme 4 Episodes 5 Distribution 5 1 International 5 2 Syndication 5 3 Home media 5 4 Streaming 5 5 Re rendered episodes 6 Reception 6 1 Ratings 6 2 Recognitions and awards 6 3 Criticism 6 3 1 Controversies 7 Influence and legacy 7 1 Cultural 7 2 Political 8 Franchise 9 References 10 External linksPremiseSetting and characters See also List of South Park characters The show follows the exploits of four boys Stan Marsh Kyle Broflovski Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick The boys live in the fictional small town of South Park located within the real life South Park basin in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado 7 The town is also home to an assortment of frequent characters such as students families elementary school staff and other various residents who tend to regard South Park as a bland quiet place to live 8 Prominent settings on the show include the local elementary school bus stop various neighborhoods and the surrounding snowy landscape actual Colorado landmarks and the shops and businesses along the town s main street all of which are based on the appearance of similar locations in Fairplay Colorado 7 8 As one of the few long running TV shows set in the Mountain West region that takes place outside the urban core of Denver South Park frequently features the unique culture of the region including cattle ranchers Old West theme parks snowy climates mountaineering Mormons real life Colorado locations such as Casa Bonita and Cave of the Winds and many other regionally specific characteristics not frequently seen on national TV shows South Park current title image since Season 17 which features the four main characters and most of the recurring supporting characters in the background Stan is portrayed as the everyman of the group 9 as the show s website describes him as an average American 4th grader 10 Kyle is the lone Jew among the group and his portrayal in this role is often dealt with satirically 9 Stan is modeled after Parker while Kyle is modeled after Stone They are best friends and their friendship symbolically intended to reflect Parker and Stone s friendship 11 is a common topic throughout the series Eric Cartman usually nicknamed by his surname only is loud obnoxious and amoral often portrayed as an antagonist His anti Semitic attitude has resulted in a progressive rivalry with Kyle although the deeper reason is the strong clash between Kyle s strong morality and Cartman s complete lack of such 9 12 Kenny who comes from a poor family wears his parka hood so tightly that it covers most of his face and muffles his speech During the show s first five seasons Kenny died in nearly every episode before returning in the next with little to no definitive explanation given He was written out of the show s sixth season in 2002 re appearing in the season finale Since then Kenny s death has been seldom used by the show s creators During the show s first 58 episodes the boys were in the third grade In the season four episode 4th Grade 2000 they entered the fourth grade and have remained there ever since 13 14 Plots are often set in motion by events ranging from the fairly typical to the supernatural and extraordinary which frequently happen in the town 15 The boys often act as the voice of reason when these events cause panic or incongruous behavior among the adult populace who are customarily depicted as irrational gullible and prone to vociferation 7 16 The boys are also frequently confused by the contradictory and hypocritical behavior of their parents and other adults and often perceive them as having distorted views on morality and society 8 17 Themes and style See also Subject matter in South Park and LGBTQ representation in South Park Each episode opens with a tongue in cheek all persons fictitious disclaimer All characters and events in this show even those based on real people are entirely fictional All celebrity voices are impersonated poorly The following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone 18 19 South Park was the first weekly program to be rated TV MA 20 and is generally intended for adult audiences 21 22 23 The boys and most other child characters use strong profanity with only the most taboo words being bleeped during a typical broadcast 8 Parker and Stone perceive this as the manner in which real life small boys speak when they are alone 24 25 South Park commonly makes use of carnivalesque and absurdist techniques 26 numerous running gags 27 28 violence 28 29 sexual content 30 31 offhand pop cultural references and satirical portrayal of celebrities 32 Early episodes tended to be shock value oriented and featured more slapstick style humor 33 While social satire had been used on the show occasionally earlier on it became more prevalent as the series progressed with the show retaining some of its focus on the boys fondness of scatological humor in an attempt to remind adult viewers what it was like to be eight years old 9 Parker and Stone also began further developing other characters by giving them larger roles in certain storylines 9 and began writing plots as parables based on religion politics and numerous other topics 8 This provided the opportunity for the show to spoof both extreme sides of contentious issues 34 while lampooning both liberal and conservative points of view 8 16 35 Parker and Stone describe themselves as equal opportunity offenders 15 whose main purpose is to be funny and make people laugh 36 37 while stating that no particular topic or group of people be exempt from mockery and satire 16 32 38 39 40 Parker and Stone insist that the show is still more about kids being kids and what it s like to be in elementary school in America 41 stating that the introduction of a more satirical element to the series was the result of the two adding more of a moral center to the show so that it would rely less on simply being crude and shocking in an attempt to maintain an audience 36 37 While profane Parker notes that there is still an underlying sweetness aspect to the child characters 34 and Time described the boys as sometimes cruel but with a core of innocence 11 Usually the boys or other characters pondered over what transpired during an episode and conveyed the important lesson taken from it with a short monologue During earlier seasons this speech commonly began with a variation of the phrase You know I ve learned something today 42 Development South Park creators Trey Parker left and Matt Stone continue to do most of the writing directing and voice acting on the show Parker and Stone met in film class at the University of Colorado in 1992 and discovered a shared love of Monty Python which they often cite as one of their primary inspirations 43 They created an animated short entitled The Spirit of Christmas 27 The film was created by animating construction paper cutouts with stop motion and features prototypes of the main characters of South Park including a character resembling Cartman but named Kenny an unnamed character resembling what is today Kenny and two near identical unnamed characters who resemble Stan and Kyle Fox Broadcasting Company executive and mutual friend Brian Graden commissioned Parker and Stone to create a second short film as a video Christmas card Created in 1995 the second The Spirit of Christmas short resembled the style of the later series more closely 44 To differentiate between the two homonymous shorts the first short is often referred to as Jesus vs Frosty and the second short as Jesus vs Santa Graden sent copies of the video to several of his friends and from there it was copied and distributed including on the internet where it became one of the first viral videos 27 45 As Jesus vs Santa became more popular Parker and Stone began talks of developing the short into a television series about four children residing in the fictional Colorado town of South Park Fox eagerly agreed to meet with the duo about the show s premise having pride itself with edgier products such as Cops The Simpsons and The X Files However during the meeting at the Fox office in Century City disagreements between the two creators and the network began to arise mainly over the latter s refusal to air a show that included a supporting talking stool character named Mr Hankey Some executives at 20th Century Fox Television which was to produce the series agreed with its then sister network s stance on Mr Hankey and repeatedly requested Parker and Stone to remove the character in order for the show to proceed Refusing to their demands the duo cut ties with Fox and its sister companies all together and began shipping the series somewhere else 46 47 48 The two then entered negotiations with both MTV and Comedy Central Parker preferred the show be produced by Comedy Central fearing that MTV would turn it into a kids show 49 When Comedy Central executive Doug Herzog watched the short he commissioned for it to be developed into a series 27 50 Parker and Stone assembled a small staff and spent three months creating the pilot episode Cartman Gets an Anal Probe 51 South Park was in danger of being canceled before it even aired when the show fared poorly with test audiences particularly with women However the shorts were still gaining more popularity over the Internet and Comedy Central ordered a run of six episodes 36 49 South Park debuted with Cartman Gets an Anal Probe on August 13 1997 52 ProductionExcept for the pilot episode which was produced using cutout animation all episodes of South Park are created with the use of software primarily Autodesk Maya As opposed to the pilot which took three months to complete 53 and other animated sitcoms which are traditionally hand drawn by companies in South Korea in a process that takes roughly eight to nine months 27 35 individual episodes of South Park take significantly less time to produce Using computers as an animation method the show s production staff were able to generate an episode in about three weeks during the first seasons 54 Now with a staff of about 70 people episodes are typically completed in one week 27 34 35 with some in as little as three to four days 55 56 57 Nearly the entire production of an episode is accomplished within one set of offices which were originally at a complex in Westwood Los Angeles California and are now part of South Park Studios in Culver City California 50 53 Parker and Stone have been the show s executive producers throughout its entire history 58 Debbie Liebling who was Senior Vice President of original programming and development for Comedy Central also served as an executive producer during the show s first five seasons coordinating the show s production efforts between South Park Studios and Comedy Central s headquarters in New York City 59 60 During its early stages finished episodes of South Park were hastily recorded to D 2 to be sent to Comedy Central for airing in just a few days time 61 Writing The Border Patrol raid during the Elian Gonzalez affair is referenced in Quintuplets 2000 which aired within the same week the event occurred Scripts are not written before a season begins 62 Production of an episode begins on a Thursday with the show s writing consultants brainstorming with Parker and Stone Former staff writers include Pam Brady who has since written scripts for the films Hot Rod Hamlet 2 and Team America World Police with Parker and Stone and Nancy Pimental who served as co host of Win Ben Stein s Money and wrote the film The Sweetest Thing after her tenure with the show during its first three seasons 63 64 Television producer and writer Norman Lear an alleged idol of both Parker and Stone served as a guest writing consultant for the season seven 2003 episodes Cancelled and I m a Little Bit Country 62 65 66 During the 12th and 13th seasons Saturday Night Live actor and writer Bill Hader served as a creative consultant and co producer 67 68 69 After exchanging ideas Parker will write a script and from there the entire team of animators editors technicians and sound engineers will each typically work 100 120 hours in the ensuing week 51 Since the show s fourth season 2000 Parker has assumed most of the show s directorial duties while Stone relinquished his share of the directing to focus on handling the coordination and business aspects of the production 27 70 On Wednesday a completed episode is sent to Comedy Central s headquarters via satellite uplink sometimes just a few hours before its air time of 10 PM Eastern Time 27 71 Parker and Stone state that subjecting themselves to a one week deadline creates more spontaneity amongst themselves in the creative process which they feel results in a funnier show 27 The schedule also allows South Park to both stay more topical and respond more quickly to specific current events than other satiric animated shows 9 72 One of the earliest examples of this was in the season four 2000 episode Quintuplets 2000 which references the United States Border Patrol s raid of a house during the Elian Gonzalez affair an event which occurred only four days before the episode originally aired 73 The season nine 2005 episode Best Friends Forever references the Terri Schiavo case 25 34 and originally aired in the midst of the controversy and less than 12 hours before she died 35 74 A scene in the season seven 2003 finale It s Christmas in Canada references the discovery of dictator Saddam Hussein in a spider hole and his subsequent capture which happened a mere three days prior to the episode airing 75 The season 12 2008 episode About Last Night revolves around Barack Obama s victory in the 2008 presidential election and aired less than 24 hours after Obama was declared the winner using segments of dialogue from Obama s real victory speech 76 On October 16 2013 the show failed to meet their production deadline for the first time ever after a power outage on October 15 at the production studio prevented the episode season 17 s Goth Kids 3 Dawn of the Posers from being finished in time The episode was rescheduled to air a week later on October 23 2013 77 On August 6 2021 South Park was renewed all the way up to season 30 and 14 additional movies enough to carry the show to at least 2027 78 Animation The various stages of production from top to bottom the storyboard sketch the CorelDRAW props with stock character models and a frame from the fully rendered episode Super Fun Time The show s style of animation is inspired by the paper cut out cartoons made by Terry Gilliam for Monty Python s Flying Circus of which Parker and Stone have been lifelong fans 49 79 80 Construction paper and traditional stop motion cutout animation techniques were used in the original animated shorts and in the pilot episode Subsequent episodes have been produced by computer animation providing a similar look to the originals while requiring a fraction of the time to produce Before computer artists begin animating an episode a series of animatics drawn in Toon Boom are provided by the show s storyboard artists 51 81 The characters and objects are composed of simple geometrical shapes and primary and secondary colors Most child characters are the same size and shape and are distinguished by their clothing hair and skin colors and headwear 17 Characters are mostly presented two dimensionally and from only one angle Their movements are animated in an intentionally jerky fashion as they are purposely not offered the same free range of motion associated with hand drawn characters 9 53 82 Occasionally some non fictional characters are depicted with photographic cutouts of their actual head and face in lieu of a face reminiscent of the show s traditional style Canadians on the show are often portrayed in an even more minimalist fashion they have simple beady eyes and the top halves of their heads simply flap up and down when the characters speak 38 When the show began using computers the cardboard cutouts were scanned and re drawn with CorelDRAW then imported into PowerAnimator which was used with SGI workstations to animate the characters 51 53 The workstations were linked to a 54 processor render farm that could render 10 to 15 shots an hour 51 Beginning with season five the animators began using Maya instead of PowerAnimator 83 The studio now runs a 120 processor render farm that can produce 30 or more shots an hour 51 PowerAnimator and Maya are high end programs mainly used for 3D computer graphics while co producer and former animation director Eric Stough notes that PowerAnimator was initially chosen because its features helped animators retain the show s homemade look 53 PowerAnimator was also used for making some of the show s visual effects 53 which are now created using Motion 51 a newer graphics program created by Apple Inc for their Mac OS X operating system The show s visual quality has improved in recent seasons 9 though several other techniques are used to intentionally preserve the cheap cutout animation look 27 54 84 A few episodes feature sections of live action footage while others have incorporated other styles of animation Portions of the season eight 2004 premiere Good Times with Weapons are done in anime style while the season 10 episode Make Love Not Warcraft is done partly in machinima 85 The season 12 episode Major Boobage a homage to the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal implements scenes accomplished with rotoscoping 86 Voice cast Main article List of South Park cast members Parker and Stone voice most of the male South Park characters 8 9 87 Mary Kay Bergman voiced the majority of the female characters until her death in November 1999 Mona Marshall and Eliza Schneider succeeded Bergman with Schneider leaving the show after its seventh season 2003 She was replaced by April Stewart who along with Marshall continues to voice most of the female characters Bergman was originally listed in the credits under the alias Shannen Cassidy to protect her reputation as the voice of several Disney and other kid friendly characters 88 Stewart was originally credited under the name Gracie Lazar 89 while Schneider was sometimes credited under her rock opera performance pseudonym Blue Girl 90 Other voice actors and members of South Park s production staff have voiced minor characters for various episodes while a few staff members voice recurring characters supervising producer Jennifer Howell voices student Bebe Stevens 87 co producer and storyboard artist Adrien Beard voices Token Black 91 who was the school s only African American student until the introduction of Nichole in Cartman Finds Love writing consultant Vernon Chatman voices an anthropomorphic towel named Towelie 87 and production supervisor John Hansen voices Mr Slave the former gay lover of Mr Garrison 92 Throughout the show s run the voices for toddler and kindergarten characters have been provided by various small children of the show s production staff 93 When voicing child characters the voice actors speak within their normal vocal range while adding a childlike inflection The recorded audio is then edited with Pro Tools and the pitch is altered to make the voice sound more like that of a fourth grader 71 94 95 Isaac Hayes voiced the character of Chef an African American soul singing cafeteria worker who was one of the few adults the boys consistently trusted 11 96 Hayes agreed to voice the character after being among Parker and Stone s ideal candidates which also included Lou Rawls and Barry White 97 Hayes who lived and hosted a radio show in New York during his tenure with South Park recorded his dialogue on a digital audio tape while a director gave directions over the phone after which the tape would be shipped to the show s production studio in California 53 After Hayes left the show in early 2006 the character of Chef was killed off in the season 10 2006 premiere The Return of Chef Guest stars Main article List of South Park guest stars Celebrities who are depicted on the show are usually impersonated though some celebrities do their own voices for the show Celebrities who have voiced themselves include Michael Buffer 98 99 Brent Musburger 100 Jay Leno 101 Robert Smith 102 and the bands Radiohead and Korn 103 104 Comedy team Cheech amp Chong voiced characters representing their likenesses for the season four 2000 episode Cherokee Hair Tampons which was the duo s first collaborative effort in 20 years 105 Malcolm McDowell appears in live action sequences as the narrator of the season four episode Pip 106 Jennifer Aniston 107 Richard Belzer 108 Natasha Henstridge 102 Norman Lear 109 and Peter Serafinowicz 110 have guest starred as other speaking characters During South Park s earliest seasons several high profile celebrities inquired about guest starring on the show As a joke Parker and Stone responded by offering low profile non speaking roles most of which were accepted George Clooney provided the barks for Stan s dog Sparky in the season one 1997 episode Big Gay Al s Big Gay Boat Ride 111 Leno provided the meows for Cartman s cat in the season one finale Cartman s Mom Is a Dirty Slut 111 and Henry Winkler voiced the various growls and grunts of a kid eating monster in the season two 1998 episode City on the Edge of Forever 112 Jerry Seinfeld offered to lend his voice for the Thanksgiving episode Starvin Marvin but declined to appear when he was only offered a role as Turkey 2 113 Music Chef would often sing in a style reminiscent of that of his voice actor Isaac Hayes Parker says that the varying uses of music is of utmost importance to South Park 114 Several characters often play or sing songs in order to change or influence a group s behavior or to educate motivate or indoctrinate others The show also frequently features scenes in which its characters have disapproving reactions to the performances of certain popular musicians 114 Adam Berry the show s original score composer used sound synthesis to simulate a small orchestra and frequently alluded to existing famous pieces of music Berry also used signature acoustic guitar and mandolin cues as leitmotifs for the show s establishing shots 114 115 After Berry left in 2001 Jamie Dunlap and Scott Nickoley of the Los Angeles based Mad City Production Studios provided the show s original music for the next seven seasons 94 Since 2008 Dunlap has been credited as the show s sole score composer 116 Dunlap s contributions to the show are one of the few that are not achieved at the show s own production offices Dunlap reads a script creates a score using digital audio software and then e mails the audio file to South Park Studios where it is edited to fit with the completed episode 94 In addition to singing in an effort to explain something to the children Chef would also sing about things relevant to what had transpired in the plot These songs were original compositions written by Parker and they were performed by Hayes in the same sexually suggestive R amp B style he had used during his own music career The band DVDA which consists of Parker and Stone along with show staff members Bruce Howell and D A Young performed the music for these compositions and until the character s death on the show were listed as Chef s Band in the closing credits 53 Rick James Elton John Meat Loaf Joe Strummer Ozzy Osbourne Primus Rancid and Ween all guest starred and briefly performed in the season two 1998 episode Chef Aid Korn debuted their single Falling Away from Me as guest stars on the season three 1999 episode Korn s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery 104 Main theme The show s theme song was a musical score performed by the band Primus with the lyrics alternately sung by the band s lead singer Les Claypool and the show s four central characters during the opening title sequence Kenny s muffled lines are altered after every few seasons His lines are usually sexually explicit in nature such as his original lines I like girls with big fat titties I like girls with deep vaginas 117 source source The end credits music which is an instrumental slower tempo version of the opening theme song The original unaired opening composition was originally slower and had a length of 40 seconds It was deemed too long for the opening sequence So Parker and Stone sped it up for the show s opening having Claypool re record his vocals The instrumental version of the original composition is often played during the show s closing credits 118 The opening song played in the first four seasons and the end credits in all seasons has a folk rock instrumentation with bass guitar trumpets and rhythmic drums Its beat is fast in the opening and leisurely in the closing credits It is in the minor key and it features a tritone or a diminished fifth creating a melodic dissonance which captures the show s surrealistic nature In the latter parts of season 4 and season 5 the opening tune has an electro funk arrangement with pop qualities Seasons 6 9 have a sprightly bluegrass instrumentation with a usage of banjo and is set in the major key For the later seasons the arrangement is electro rock with a breakbeat influence which feature electric guitars backed up by synthesized groovy drumbeats 94 The opening theme song has been remixed three times during the course of the series including a remix performed by Paul Robb 119 In 2006 the theme music was remixed with the song Whamola by Colonel Les Claypool s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade from the album Purple Onion 120 EpisodesMain article List of South Park episodes SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedFirst airedLast aired113August 13 1997 1997 08 13 February 25 1998 1998 02 25 218April 1 1998 1998 04 01 January 20 1999 1999 01 20 317April 7 1999 1999 04 07 January 12 2000 2000 01 12 417April 5 2000 2000 04 05 December 20 2000 2000 12 20 514June 20 2001 2001 06 20 December 12 2001 2001 12 12 617March 6 2002 2002 03 06 December 11 2002 2002 12 11 715March 19 2003 2003 03 19 December 17 2003 2003 12 17 814March 17 2004 2004 03 17 December 15 2004 2004 12 15 914March 9 2005 2005 03 09 December 7 2005 2005 12 07 1014March 22 2006 2006 03 22 November 15 2006 2006 11 15 1114March 7 2007 2007 03 07 November 14 2007 2007 11 14 1214March 12 2008 2008 03 12 November 19 2008 2008 11 19 1314March 11 2009 2009 03 11 November 18 2009 2009 11 18 1414March 17 2010 2010 03 17 November 17 2010 2010 11 17 1514April 27 2011 2011 04 27 November 16 2011 2011 11 16 1614March 14 2012 2012 03 14 November 7 2012 2012 11 07 1710September 25 2013 2013 09 25 December 11 2013 2013 12 11 1810September 24 2014 2014 09 24 December 10 2014 2014 12 10 1910September 16 2015 2015 09 16 December 9 2015 2015 12 09 2010September 14 2016 2016 09 14 December 7 2016 2016 12 07 2110September 13 2017 2017 09 13 December 6 2017 2017 12 06 2210September 26 2018 2018 09 26 December 12 2018 2018 12 12 2310September 25 2019 2019 09 25 December 11 2019 2019 12 11 Specials2September 30 2020 2020 09 30 March 10 2021 2021 03 10 DistributionInternational Internationally South Park is broadcast in India 121 New Zealand and several countries throughout Europe and Latin America on channels that are subsidiaries of Comedy Central and ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS 27 122 In distribution deals with Comedy Central other independent networks also broadcast the series in other international markets In Australia the show is broadcast on The Comedy Channel Comedy Central and free to air channel SBS Viceland before 2009 while new episodes aired on SBS The program also airs free to air in Australia on 10 Shake a sister network to Comedy Central through ViacomCBS 123 The series is broadcast uncensored in Canada in English on The Comedy Network 124 and later Much South Park also airs in Irish on TG4 in Ireland 125 STV in Scotland 126 Comedy Central and MTV in the UK previously on Sky One Channel 4 and Viva with 5Star recently picking up where Viva left off B92 in Serbia 127 and on Game One and NRJ 12 in France In September 2020 SBS which aired South Park in Australia since 1997 removed South Park from its television line up though reruns could air on SBS Viceland 128 129 Syndication Broadcast syndication rights to South Park were acquired by Debmar Mercury and Tribune Entertainment in 2003 and 2004 respectively 130 131 Episodes further edited for content began running in syndication on September 19 2005 and are aired in the United States with the TV 14 rating 131 132 20th Television replaced Tribune as co distributor in early 2008 The series is currently aired in syndication in 90 percent of the television markets across the U S and Canada where it generates an estimated US 25 million a year in advertising revenue 133 134 In 2019 CBS Television Distribution the syndication arm of ViacomCBS the parent company of Comedy Central took over the full distribution rights following the acquisition of 21st Century Fox parent of 20th Television by The Walt Disney Company who had employed Debmar Mercury founder Mort Marcus as the head of their syndication division 135 distributing the show in syndication and ViacomCBS airings Home media Main article List of South Park home video releases Complete seasons of South Park have been regularly released on their entirety on DVD since 2002 with season twenty three being the most recently released Several other themed DVD compilations have been released by Rhino Entertainment and Comedy Central 136 while the three episode Imaginationland story arc was reissued straight to DVD as a full length feature in 2008 137 138 139 Blu ray releases started in 2008 with the release of season twelve 140 Subsequent seasons have been released in this format alongside the longer running DVD releases The first eleven seasons were released on Blu ray for the first time in December 2017 141 142 Streaming In March 2008 Comedy Central made every episode of South Park available for free full length on demand legal streaming on the official South Park Studios website 143 From March 2008 until December 2013 new episodes were added to the site the day following their debut and an uncensored version was posted the following day The episode stayed up for the remainder of the week then taken down and added to the site three weeks later Within a week the site served more than a million streams of full episodes 143 and the number grew to 55 million by October 2008 144 Legal issues prevent the U S content from being accessible outside the U S 145 so local servers have been set up in other countries 146 In September 2009 a South Park Studios website with streaming episodes was launched in the UK and Ireland 147 In Canada episodes were available for streaming from The Comedy Network s website though due to digital rights restrictions they are no longer available 148 In July 2014 it was announced that Hulu had signed a three year deal purchasing exclusive online streaming rights to the South Park for a reported 80 million Following the announcement every episode remained available for free on the South Park Studios website using the Hulu player As of September 2014 following the premiere of the eighteenth season only 30 select episodes are featured for free viewing at a time on a rationing basis on the website with new episodes being available for an entire month starting the day following their original airings The entire series is available for viewing on Hulu 149 In April 2010 the season five episode Super Best Friends and the season fourteen episodes 200 and 201 were removed from the site additionally these episodes no longer air in reruns and are only available exclusively on DVD and Blu ray These episodes remain unavailable following the 2014 purchase by Hulu As of July 1 2015 all episodes of South Park are available for streaming in Canada on the service CraveTV which first consisted of seasons 1 18 Subsequent seasons were released the following July 150 In early October 2019 industry rumors suggested that the streaming rights for South Park were being offered to various services creating an intense bidding war that was estimated to be as high as US 500 million HBO and South Park Digital Studios announced that HBO had secured a multi year deal for the exclusive streaming rights for South Park on their HBO Max service starting June 24 2020 151 While the terms of the deal were not disclosed Variety reported the deal fell between US 500 million and US 550 million 152 Re rendered episodes From its debut in 1997 to the season twelve finale in 2008 the series had been produced in standard definition In 2009 the series switched to being produced in high definition 1080p with the beginning of the thirteenth season 153 Since this all seasons originally produced in standard definition have been remastered by South Park Studios being fully re rendered in high definition 153 The re rendered versions were also released on Blu ray Several of the re rendered episodes from the earlier seasons have their original uncensored audio tracks they had previously been released in censored form 153 154 155 156 The fifth season episode Super Best Friends which was pulled from syndication and online streams following the controversy surrounding episode 201 was not released alongside the rest of the season when it was released in HD on iTunes in 2011 The episode was later re rendered and made available for the Blu ray release of the season that was released on December 5 2017 157 The episode is presented in its original presentation without Muhammad s image being obscured as in later episodes of the series 158 ReceptionRatings When South Park debuted it was a huge ratings success for Comedy Central and is seen as being largely responsible for the success of the channel with Herzog crediting it for putting the network on the map 27 50 159 The show s first episode Cartman Gets an Anal Probe earned a Nielsen rating of 1 3 980 000 viewers at the time considered high for a cable program 159 The show instantly generated buzz among television viewers and mass viewing parties began assembling on college campuses 21 15 23 By the time the eighth episode Starvin Marvin aired three months after the show debuted ratings and viewership had tripled and South Park was already the most successful show in Comedy Central s history 23 When the tenth episode Damien aired the following February viewership increased another 33 percent The episode earned a 6 4 rating which at the time was over 10 times the average rating earned by a cable show aired in prime time 21 159 The ratings peaked with the second episode of season two Cartman s Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut which aired on April 22 1998 The episode earned an 8 2 rating 6 2 million viewers and at the time set a record as the highest rated non sports show in basic cable history 29 37 159 During the spring of 1998 eight of the ten highest rated shows on basic cable were South Park episodes 22 The success of South Park prompted more cable companies to carry Comedy Central and led it to its becoming one of the fastest growing cable channels The number of households that had Comedy Central jumped from 9 1 million in 1997 to 50 million in June 1998 159 When the show debuted the most Comedy Central had earned for a 30 second commercial was US 7 500 21 Within a year advertisers were paying an average of US 40 000 for 30 seconds of advertising time during airings of South Park in its second season while some paid as much as US 80 000 160 By the third season 1999 the series ratings began to decrease 161 The third season premiere episode drew 3 4 million viewers a dramatic drop from the 5 5 million of the previous season s premiere 159 Stone and Parker attributed this drop in the show s ratings to the media hype that surrounded the show in the previous year adding that the third season ratings reflected the show s true fan base 159 The show s ratings dropped further in its fourth season 2000 with episodes averaging just above 1 5 million viewers The ratings eventually increased and seasons five through nine consistently averaged about 3 million viewers per episode 159 Though its viewership is lower than it was at the height of its popularity in its earliest seasons South Park remains one of the highest rated series on Comedy Central 162 The season 14 2010 premiere gained 3 7 million viewers the show s highest rated season premiere since 1998 163 In 2016 a New York Times study of the 50 TV shows with the most Facebook Likes found that perhaps unsurprisingly South Park is most popular in Colorado 164 More recent seasons have seen substantially lower ratings with the 2019 season averaging 0 82 million viewers an episode Recognitions and awards Main article List of awards and nominations received by South Park In 2004 Channel 4 voted South Park the third greatest cartoon of all time 165 In 2007 Time magazine included the show on its list of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time proclaiming it as America s best source of rapid fire satire for the past decade 166 The same year Rolling Stone declared it to be the funniest show on television since its debut 10 years prior 167 In 2008 South Park was named the 12th greatest TV show of the past 25 years by Entertainment Weekly 168 while AOL declared it as having the most astute characters of any show in history when naming it the 16th best television comedy series of all time 169 In 2011 South Park was voted number one in the 25 Greatest Animated TV Series poll by Entertainment Weekly 170 The character of Cartman ranked 10th on TV Guide s 2002 list of the Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters 171 198th on VH1 s 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons 172 19th on Bravo s 100 Greatest TV Characters television special in 2004 173 and second on MSNBC s 2005 list of TV s scariest characters behind Mr Burns from The Simpsons 174 In 2006 Comedy Central received a Peabody Award for South Park s stringent social commentary and undeniably fearless lampooning of all that is self important and hypocritical in American life 27 41 175 176 In 2013 the Writers Guild of America ranked South Park at number 63 among the 101 Best Written Shows Ever 177 Also in 2013 TV Guide listed the show at number 10 among the 60 Greatest Cartoons of All Time 178 In 2019 the series was ranked 42nd on The Guardian newspaper s list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century 179 South Park won the CableACE Award for Best Animated Series in 1997 the last year the awards were given out 180 In 1998 South Park was nominated for the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Primetime or Late Night Television Program It was also nominated for the 1998 GLAAD Award for Outstanding TV Individual Episode for Big Gay Al s Big Gay Boat Ride 32 South Park has been nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program sixteen times 1998 2000 2002 2004 2011 and 2013 2017 The show has won the award for Outstanding Animated Program For Programming Less Than One Hour four times for the 2005 episode Best Friends Forever 175 the 2006 episode Make Love Not Warcraft 181 the 2009 episode Margaritaville and the 2012 episode Raising the Bar 182 The Imaginationland trilogy of episodes won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program For Programming One Hour or More in 2008 183 Criticism The show s frequent depiction of taboo subject matter general toilet humor accessibility to younger viewers disregard for conservative sensibilities negative depiction of liberal causes and portrayal of religion for comic effect have generated controversy and debate over the course of its run 184 As the series became popular students in two schools were barred from wearing South Park related T shirts 18 22 32 and the headmaster of a UK public school asked parents not to let their children watch the programme after eight and nine year old children voted the South Park character Cartman as their favorite personality in a 1999 poll 185 Parker and Stone assert that the show is not meant to be viewed by young children and the show is certified with TV ratings that indicate its intention for mature audiences 22 Parents Television Council founder L Brent Bozell III and Action for Children s Television founder Peggy Charren have both condemned the show with the latter claiming it is dangerous to the democracy 18 160 186 187 Several other activist groups have protested the show s parodies of Christianity and portrayal of Jesus Christ 18 188 Stone has stated that parents who disapprove of South Park for its portrayal of how kids behave are upset because they have an idyllic vision of what kids are like adding kids don t have any kind of social tact or etiquette they re just complete little raging bastards 32 185 Controversies Main article South Park controversies The show further lampooned the controversy surrounding its use of profanity as well as the media attention surrounding the network show Chicago Hope s singular use of the word shit with the season five premiere It Hits the Fan 189 in which the word shit is said 162 times without being bleeped for censorship purposes while also appearing uncensored in written form 37 In the days following the show s original airing 5 000 disapproving e mails were sent to Comedy Central 49 Despite its 43 uncensored uses of the racial slur nigger the season 11 episode With Apologies to Jesse Jackson generated relatively little controversy as most in the black community and the NAACP praised the episode for its context and its comedic way of conveying other races perceptions of how black people feel when hearing the word 190 191 Specific controversies regarding the show have included an April Fools Day prank played on its viewers in 1998 192 its depiction of the Virgin Mary in the season nine 2005 finale Bloody Mary that angered several Catholics 35 its depiction of Steve Irwin with a stingray barb stuck in his chest in the episode Hell on Earth 2006 which originally aired less than two months after Irwin was killed in the same fashion 193 194 Comedy Central s censorship of the depiction of Muhammad in the season 10 episode Cartoon Wars Part II in the wake of the Jyllands Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy 188 and consistent mockery of the concept of climate change by using climate change denialist talking points 195 196 197 The season nine 2005 episode Trapped in the Closet denounces Scientology as nothing more than a big fat global scam 188 while freely divulging church information that Scientology normally only reveals to members who make significant monetary contributions to the church 198 The episode also ambiguously parodies the rumors involving the sexual orientation of Scientologist Tom Cruise who allegedly demanded any further reruns of the episode be canceled 193 199 Isaac Hayes a Scientologist later quit South Park because of his objection to the episode 200 The season fourteen episodes 200 and 201 were mired in controversy for satirizing issues surrounding the depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad The website for the organization Revolution Muslim a New York based radical Muslim organization posted an entry that included a warning to creators Parker and Stone that they risk violent retribution for their depictions of Muhammad It said that they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show The posting provided the addresses to Comedy Central in New York and the production company in Los Angeles The author of the post Zachary Adam Chesser whose alias is Abu Talhah al Amrikee 201 said it was meant to serve as a warning to Parker and Stone not a threat and that providing the addresses was meant to give people the opportunity to protest 202 203 Despite Chesser s claims that the website entry was a warning several media outlets and observers interpreted it as a threat 204 205 206 Support for the episode has come in the form of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day a movement started on Facebook that encourages people to draw Muhammad on May 20 207 The 200 episode which also depicted the Buddha snorting cocaine prompted the government of Sri Lanka to ban the series outright 208 Due to many taboo topics in China such as Dalai Lama Winnie the Pooh summary execution cannabis culture and organ harvesting being involved in the season 23 2019 episode Band in China South Park was entirely banned in China after the episode s broadcast The series Baidu Baike article Baidu Tieba forum Douban page Zhihu page and Bilibili videos have been deleted or inaccessible to the public all related keywords and topics have been prohibited from being searched and discussed on China based search engines and social media sites including Baidu QQ Sina Weibo and on WeChat public platforms 209 210 211 Parker and Stone issued a sarcastic apology in response 212 213 Influence and legacyCultural Commentary made in episodes has been interpreted as statements Parker and Stone are attempting to make to the viewing public 214 and these opinions have been subject to much critical analysis in the media and literary world within the framework of popular philosophical theological social and political concepts 26 214 215 Since South Park debuted college students have written term papers and doctoral theses analyzing the show 55 while Brooklyn College offers a course called South Park and Political Correctness 216 217 Soon after one of Kenny s trademark deaths on the show other characters would typically shout Oh my God they killed Kenny followed by another yelling out You bastards these lines were usually said by the characters Stan and Kyle respectively The exclamation quickly became a popular catchphrase 11 while the running gag of Kenny s recurring deaths is one of the more recognized hallmarks among viewers of modern television 218 219 Cartman s exclamations of Respect my authori tah and Screw you guys I m going home became catchphrases as well and during the show s earlier seasons were highly popular in the lexicon of viewers 220 Cartman s eccentric intonation of Hey was included in the 2002 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Catchphrases 221 In the season two episode Chef Aid attorney Johnnie Cochran uses what s called in the show the Chewbacca defense which is a legal strategy that involves addressing plot holes related to Chewbacca in the film Return of the Jedi rather than discussing the trial at hand during a closing argument in a deliberate attempt to confuse jurors into thinking there is reasonable doubt The term Chewbacca defense has been documented as being used by criminologists forensic scientists and political commentators in their various discussions of similar methods used in legal cases and public forums 222 223 Another season two episode Gnomes revolves around a group of underpants gnomes who as their name suggests run a corporation stealing people s underpants When asked about their business model various gnomes reply that theirs is a three step process Phase 1 is collect underpants Phase 3 is profit However the gnomes are unable to explain what is to occur between the first and final steps and Phase 2 is accompanied by a large question mark on their corporate flow chart Using and PROFIT as the last two steps in a process usually jokingly has become a widely popular Internet meme because of this Especially in the context of politics and economics underpants gnomes has been used by some commentators to characterize a conspicuous gap of logic or planning 224 225 When Sophie Rutschmann of the University of Strasbourg discovered a mutated gene that causes an adult fruit fly to die within two days after it is infected with certain bacteria she named the gene kep1 in honor of Kenny 226 227 228 Political While some conservatives have condemned South Park for its vulgarity a growing population of people who hold center right political beliefs including teenagers and young adults have embraced the show for its tendency to mock liberal viewpoints and lampoon liberal celebrities and icons 229 Political commentator Andrew Sullivan dubbed the group South Park Republicans or South Park conservatives 40 230 231 Sullivan averred that members of the group are extremely skeptical of political correctness but also are socially liberal on many issues though he says the phrase applied to them is meant to be more of a casual indication of beliefs than a strong partisan label 16 40 Brian C Anderson describes the group as generally characterized by holding strong libertarian beliefs and rejecting more conservative social policy and notes that although the show makes wicked fun of conservatives it is at the forefront of a conservative revolt against liberal media and Hollywood s liberal hegemony 229 232 Parker and Stone reject the idea that the show has any underlying political position and deny having a political agenda when creating an episode 36 231 233 The two claim the show s higher proportion of instances lampooning liberal rather than conservative orthodoxies stems simply from their preference for making fun of liberals 16 72 While Stone has been quoted saying I hate conservatives but I really fucking hate liberals Stone and Parker have explained that their drive to lampoon a given target comes first from the target s insistence on telling other people how to behave 189 The duo explain that they regard liberals as having both delusions of entitlement to remain free from satire and a propensity to enforce political correctness while patronizing the citizens of Middle America 39 40 Parker and Stone are uncomfortable with the idea of themselves or South Park being assigned any kind of partisan classification 36 231 Parker said he rejects the South Park Republican and South Park conservative labels feeling that either tag implies that one only adheres to strictly conservative or liberal viewpoints 35 229 The duo has in the past reluctantly labeled themselves libertarians and fans of government gridlock In 2006 they said that they were rooting for Hillary Clinton in 2008 simply because it would be weird to have her as president 232 FranchiseFor more information about films shorts music and merchandising see South Park franchise For more information about video games see List of South Park video games References Lake Dave 2009 The 10 Most Controversial South Park Episodes MSN TV Archived from the original on May 15 2011 Retrieved January 12 2011 The Pandemic Special promo retrieved September 22 2020 SOUTH PARQ VACCINATION SPECIAL All New Episode March 10 retrieved February 22 2021 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12563030 a b c Winter Bill Trey Parker Libertarian www theadvocates org Archived from the original on January 13 2008 Retrieved May 24 2009 Cohen William November 4 2005 Respect Its Authoritah The Cornell American Archived from the original on January 29 2010 Retrieved May 5 2009 a b c John Tierney August 29 2006 South Park Refugees The New York Times Retrieved May 3 2009 a b Tierney John August 31 2006 South Park Refugees Reason Retrieved August 11 2021 Matt Stone amp Trey Parker Are Not Your Political Allies No Matter What You Believe by Alex Leo The Huffington Post February 25 2010 Further Reading Anderson Brian C 2005 South Park Conservatives The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias Regnery Publishing ISBN 978 0 89526 019 2 Broman Per F Jacoby Henry 2006 Arp Robert ed South Park and Philosophy You Know I Learned Something Today The Blackwell Philosophy amp Pop Culture Series Blackwell Publishing ISBN 978 1 4051 6160 2 Cogan Brian ed 2011 Deconstructing South Park Critical Examinations of Animated Transgression Lexington Books ISBN 978 0 7391 6745 8 Hanley Richard ed 2007 South Park and Philosophy Bigger Longer and More Penetrating Open Court ISBN 978 0 8126 9613 4 Johnson Woods Toni 2007 Blame Canada South Park and Popular Culture Continuum ISBN 978 0 8264 1731 2 Mansour David 2005 From Abba to Zoom A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century Kansas City Missouri Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC ISBN 0 7407 5118 2 OCLC 57316726 Nye Sean From Punk to the Musical South Park Music and the Cartoon Format in Music in Television Channels of Listening ed James Deaville London Routledge 2011 143 64 ISBN 978 0415881357 Weinstock Jeffrey Andrew editor Randall Fallows 2008 Taking South Park Seriously SUNY Press ISBN 978 0 7914 7566 9 External linksOfficial website South Park at IMDb South Park on Metacritic South Park on Rotten Tomatoes South Park at Don Markstein s Toonopedia Archived from the original on July 23 2017 Ryan Parker September 14 2016 South Park History Trey Parker Matt Stone on Censors Tom Cruise and Scientology s Role in Isaac Hayes Quitting The Hollywood Reporter Portals Access related topics Television portal Animation portal Comedy portal Cartoon portal United States portal Colorado portal 1990s portalFind out more on Wikipedia s Sister projects Media from Commons Quotations from Wikiquote Data from Wikidata Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title South Park amp oldid 1053046315, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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