As one of the longest-running shows on television, South Park has managed to maintain an air of relevancy that has been the envy of many other current runners – but just how do they do it?
Far jokes, racist slurs, and biting social commentary. That’s the recipe that cut-out cartoon masters Matt Stone and Trey Parker have been mixing over the past two decades to create some of the most sardonic and uncompromisingly harsh critiques of our world.
Many television shows tend to hit their stride within their first several seasons, and then peter out down the line, left with secondhand writers trying to fill the shoes of those that bailed ship earlier. In the case of South Park, however, total control has remained in the hands of the creators ever since its inception.
To say that there haven’t been stumbles along the way would be untrue. Some episodes certainly rank higher than others, and there have been multiple times where Stone and Parker have bitten off more than they could chew – but we can hardly fault them for trying.
The now-running Season 21 has seen some changes from the serialized format that took hold of the series over the last two seasons, and while they may have given up their long-form storytelling, they’ve certainly not given up their punch.
With arguably more to lampoon, criticize and call out than ever before, the biggest issue that South Park seems to be suffering from is an overabundance of topics to try to fit into half-hour packages.
With the loss of the long-form narrative of the past seasons, we do see less of the varied townsfolk’s personalities and more of their traits being called upon to drive a point home – such as PC Principal’s insistence on all things clean and appropriate amid dealing with his feelings toward a coworker.
Perhaps the most impressive facet of the show is that it has not only grown with its audience, but with its creators. The improvement in animation quality, voice acting, and writing is evident to any who watch the seemingly endless progression of seasons, and by the time you’ve reached the most recent episodes, the impression that you’re watching two masters at their craft is undebatable.
Yes, with 21 Seasons and two successful games under their belt (we’re not counting the old ones), Matt Stone and Trey parker are indicating that they plan to continue firing on all cylinders for many years to come. And that suits us just fine. Something tells us that they’ll be the spitting images of Old Terrance and Philip – old coots with canes and walkers, still laughing about fart jokes.