“South Park” doesn’t believe in half measures.
The Comedy Central series has been delivering brutal takedowns since its very first season.
The pandemic. Trans athletes. The King of Pop. Paris Hilton. Jesse Jackson. PC gone wild. Name the subject, and chances are Stan, Kenny, Kyle, and Cartman have tackled it, sans apology.
The following eight episodes offer “South Park” unleashed. Pity the targets of the show’s satirical cudgel. They may never recover from the animated tongue lashing.
1. “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson” – Season 11, episode 1
Stan Marsh’s father, Randy, accidentally says the “n-word” as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune.” He’s quickly branded a racist, and the reverberations fall on both his son and the boys’ elementary school.
The episode mocks Jackson for pretending to be the embodiment of black America while initiating a tough conversation about race and the word in question.
It’s blunt satire, full stop, and an example of how “South Park” is willing to explore complicated issues from various angles. It’s not a lecture, and the laughs are both consistent and, often, uncomfortable.
2. “Board Girls” Season 23, Episode 7
It’s the episode even “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone may not be able to get away with today given the trans community’s rage against criticism.
The episode aired in 2019 before the trans issue flared up across the country. Vice Principal Strong Woman announces she’s entering a Strong Woman competition, in part, to inspire female students to be empowered. She’s upstaged by a biological man who transitioned to womanhood mere weeks ago.
And the trans athlete happens to look and sound like Randy “Macho Man” Savage, the wrestling icon from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Chaos ensues, naturally, with the storyline echoing future conversations about trans athletes and biological differences. Clips from the episode went viral earlier this year, connecting the 2019 satire with modern conversations on the topic.
3. “The Worldwide Privacy Tour” Season 26, Episode 2
The couple known by their first names, Harry and Meghan, enjoy a rarefied space in pop culture. Mock the duo relentlessly and suffer the consequences. Just ask Piers Morgan, who did just that and lost a high-profile gig with “Good Morning Britain.”
“South Park” turned that cultural protection racket on its head.
The episode features a Canadian royal couple who wish to be left alone. And they’ll shout their wishes from the rooftops until every living soul hears them. It’s obviously Harry and Meghan, and the secondary plot involving a quest for victimhood makes the comedy bite even harder.
After the episode aired we learned about Meghan Markle’s dubious podcasting tics, a story that may not have been told if “South Park” hadn’t made it culturally acceptable to do so. Her feminist podcast ended after just one season.
4. “The Jeffersons” Season 8, Episode 6
What if the biggest pop star on the planet moved to South Park? Even more improbable? An animated series skewers him in ways many were thinking but couldn’t discuss in polite society.
Yes, the Mr. Jefferson in question is a Michael Jackson stand-in, complete with a child named Blanket. The new neighbor can’t connect with adults and dresses like Peter Pan for his young South Park friends.
When the adults accuse him of oddball behavior he cries, “that’s ignorant” in a high-pitched whine. Later, Mr. Jefferson’s face begins to crumble after one too many plastic surgeries.
We all knew about Jackson’s eccentricities, but “South Park” lined them all up for our inspection in one withering, 30-minute broadside.
A subplot, riffing on the O.J. Simpson case, finds local police trying to frame Mr. Jefferson because he’s wealthy and black. Satire atop satire, and all of it stings.
5. “ManBearPig” Season 10, Episode 6
Former Vice President Al Gore’s climate change mantras are rarely, if ever, questioned in the media. He’s considered an oracle on the subject, even though he’s profited off his declarations and some of his predictions have been less than accurate.
“South Park” mocked him all the same.
The episode finds an animated Al Gore tracking down the evil ManBearPig, a creature which feasts on innocent humans. It’s clearly a metaphor for Climate Change, and the episode depicts Gore as an attention seeker first and foremost.
Few, if any, satirists approached Gore in such a fashion before or after the episode.
6. “Joining the Panderverse” 326th stand-alone episode
Parker and Stone pay homage to countless YouTubers who have been calling out Kathleen Kennedy’s disastrous Disney tenure. She’s been behind the wheel as “Star Wars,” the MCU, and “Indiana Jones” took sizable stumbles.
The episode finds Cartman dreaming of an alternate universe where he and his buddies are swapped out for diverse versions of themselves.
It gets meaner.
Cartman boils down the Kennedy ethos into a phrase sure to become as ubiquitous as “yada yada yada” and “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” from “Seinfeld.”
“Put a chick in it and make her gay!”
7 & 8. “Cartoon Wars Parts I & II” Season 10, episodes 3 and 4
The show featured a bizarre cross-promotion with FOX’s “Family Guy” sitcom. The latter plans to show a character based on Islamic Prophet Muhammad, sending the town of South Park into a frenzy.
Could the series spark violence in the Colorado town or elsewhere?
The two-part episode matters for several reasons. Parker and Stone took the free speech fight into the public arena, coming after the attacks against a Danish newspaper for publishing a cartoon image of the Prophet.
Plus, it’s rare to see Parker and Stone lose a public fight with Comedy Central. The channel opted not to show the Muhammad character illustrated for the series, showing a black screen when the image was supposed to appear. Later, these episodes and several more with similar themes have been yanked from various streaming platforms.
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Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.