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''South Park'' is an American
animated sitcom An animated sitcom is a subgenre of the sitcom that is animation, animated instead of live action. History Early history ''The Flintstones'', which debuted in 1960, is considered the first example of the animated sitcom genre.
created by
Trey Parker Randolph Severn "Trey" Parker III (born October 19, 1969) is an American actor, voice actor, animator, writer, producer, director, and composer. He is known for co-creating ''South Park ''South Park'' is an American animated sitcom An ani ...
and
Matt Stone Matthew Richard Stone (born May 26, 1971) is an American actor, voice actor, animator, writer, producer, and composer. He is known for co-creating '' South Park'' (1997–present) and co-developing '' The Book of Mormon'' (2011) with his creative ...
and developed by
Brian Graden Brian Graden (born 1963) is an American television Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in color, and in two or thre ...
for
Comedy Central Comedy Central (Formerly Styled As COMEDY ꓶⱯꓤꓕNƎꓛ) is an American basic cable television channel, channel owned by ViacomCBS through its ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks, domestic network division's MTV Entertainment Group unit, based ...

Comedy Central
. The series revolves around four boys
Stan Marsh Stanley "Stan" Marsh is one of the four main characters of the adult animation, adult animated television series ''South Park''. He is voiced by and loosely based on series co-creator Trey Parker. Stan is one of the series' four central charact ...

Stan Marsh
,
Kyle Broflovski Kyle Broflovski is a main character in the animated television series An animated series is a set of animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are draw ...

Kyle Broflovski
,
Eric Cartman Eric Theodore Cartman, often referred to just by his surname, is a main character in the adult Biologically Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemi ...

Eric Cartman
, and
Kenny McCormick Kenneth "Kenny" McCormick is a main character in the animated television series An animated series is a set of animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, image ...

Kenny McCormick
and their exploits in and around the titular
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain West The Mountain West Conference (MW) is one of the collegiate athletic conferences affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic ...

Colorado
town. ''South Park'' became infamous for its
profanity Profanity is a socially offensive use of language, which may also be called cursing, swearing, or expletives. Accordingly, profanity is language use that is sometimes deemed impolite, rude, or culturally Culture () is an umbrella term wh ...

profanity
and
dark Darkness, the polar opposite of brightness Brightness is an attribute of visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment using light in the visible spectrum reflected by the objects in the envi ...
,
surreal humor Surreal humour (also known as absurdist humour or surreal comedy) is a form of humour Humour (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English) or humor (American English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -o ...
that satirizes a wide range of topics toward an
adult Biology, Biologically, an adult is an organism that has reached sexual maturity. In human context, the term ''adult'' has meanings associated with social and Law, legal concepts. In contrast to a "Minor (law), minor", a legal adult is a person ...
audience. 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 video right , 300px , Cumulative video views, leading to a lower, but relatively stable, long-term growth rate by the end of the first year. A viral video is a video Video is an Electronics, electronic medium for the recording, copying, pl ...
s, ultimately leading to ''South Park''s production. The
pilot episode A television pilot (also known as a pilot or a pilot episode and sometimes marketed as a tele-movie) is a standalone episode of a television series upright=1.35, A live television show set and cameras A television show – or simply TV show – ...
was produced using
cutout animation Cutout animation is a form of using flat characters, s and backgrounds cut from materials such as , card, stiff or s. The props would be cut out and used as puppets for stop motion. The world's earliest known animated feature films were cutou ...
; subsequent episodes have since been produced using
computer animation " technique Computer animation is the process used for digitally generating animated images. The more general term computer-generated imagery Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the application of computer graphics to create or contribute to i ...
recalling the cutout technique. ''South Park'' features a large
ensemble cast In a dramatic production, an ensemble cast is one which is composed of multiple principal actors and performers who are typically assigned roughly equal amounts of screen time.Random House: ensemble acting Linked 2013-07-17 Structure In contrast ...
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
The Pandemic Special
" and "
South ParQ Vaccination Special "South ParQ Vaccination Special" is an hour-long television special, special episode of the American animated television series ''South Park''. The 309th episode overall of the series, it premiered on Comedy Central in the United States on March ...
", respectively premiered in September 2020 and March 2021. In August 2021, the series was renewed through 2027, and a series of films was announced for the streaming service
Paramount+ Paramount+ is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming Streaming media is multimedia Multimedia is a form of communication that combines different content forms such as text, audio, images, animations, or video ...

Paramount+
, the
first First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill ...
two 2 (two) is a number, numeral (linguistics), numeral and numerical digit, digit. It is the natural number following 1 and preceding 3. It is the smallest and only even prime number. Because it forms the basis of a Dualistic cosmology, duality, it ...
of which were released later that year. ''South Park'' has received numerous accolades, including five
Primetime Emmy Award The Primetime Emmy Awards are bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), also colloquially known as the Television Academy, is a professional honorary organization dedicated to th ...
s, a
Peabody Award The George Foster Peabody Awards (or simply Peabody Awards or the Peabodys) program, named for the American businessman and philanthropist George Foster Peabody, George Peabody, honor the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in ...
, and numerous inclusions in various publications' lists of greatest television shows. A theatrical film, '' South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut'', was released in June 1999 to commercial and critical success, garnering an
Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking F ...
nomination. In 2013, ''
TV Guide TV Guide is an American digital media company that provides television program TV listings, listings information as well as entertainment and television-related news. The company sold off its print magazine division, TV Guide Magazine, TV Guide ...
'' ranked ''South Park'' the tenth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time.


Premise


Setting and characters

The show follows the exploits of four boys,
Stan Marsh Stanley "Stan" Marsh is one of the four main characters of the adult animation, adult animated television series ''South Park''. He is voiced by and loosely based on series co-creator Trey Parker. Stan is one of the series' four central charact ...

Stan Marsh
,
Kyle Broflovski Kyle Broflovski is a main character in the animated television series An animated series is a set of animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are draw ...

Kyle Broflovski
,
Eric Cartman Eric Theodore Cartman, often referred to just by his surname, is a main character in the adult Biologically Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemi ...

Eric Cartman
and
Kenny McCormick Kenneth "Kenny" McCormick is a main character in the animated television series An animated series is a set of animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, image ...

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 The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with simila ...

Rocky Mountains
of central
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain West The Mountain West Conference (MW) is one of the collegiate athletic conferences affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic ...

Colorado
. The town is also home to an assortment of frequent characters such as
students A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students (or "pupils") under the direction of teachers. Most c ...
,
families In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the w ...
, 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 Fairplay is the statutory town that is the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division), civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Hung ...
. As one of the few long-running TV shows set in the
Mountain West The Mountain West Conference (MW) is one of the collegiate athletic conferences affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates stud ...
region that takes place outside the urban core of
Denver Denver () is a consolidated city and county, the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more forma ...

Denver
, ''South Park'' frequently features the unique culture of the region, including cattle ranchers, Old West theme parks, snowy climates, mountaineering,
Mormons Mormons are a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, ...
, real-life Colorado locations such as
Casa Bonita Casa Bonita (''Spanish language, Spanish; literally means "pretty house"'') is a former chain of Culture of Mexico, Mexican-themed "eatertainment" restaurants which originated in Oklahoma City. The last restaurant in the former chain, which is loca ...

Casa Bonita
and Cave of the Winds, and many other regionally specific characteristics not frequently seen on national TV shows. Stan is portrayed as the
everyman The everyman is a stock character A stock character is a stereotypical Police officers buying doughnuts and coffee, an example of perceived stereotypical behavior in North America. Social psychology Social psychology is the Sc ...

everyman
of the group, as the show's website describes him as an "average, American 4th grader". Kyle is the lone
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...
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
nickname A nickname (also moniker) is a substitute for the proper name of a familiar person, place or thing. Commonly used to express affection, a form of endearment, and sometimes amusement, it can also be used to express defamation of character De ...
d by his surname only) is loud, obnoxious, and amoral, often portrayed as an
antagonist An antagonist is a character in a story who is presented as the chief foe of the protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, ...
. His
anti-Semitic Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. A ...
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 A parka or anorak is a type of coat A coat typically is an outer garment File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are ...

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 A season finale (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and ...
. 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 Third grade (also called grade three, equivalent to Year 4 in the UK) is a year of primary education in many countries. It is the third school year of primary school A primary school (in Ireland, the UK & Australia), junior school (in ...
. In the
season fourSeason 4 may refer to: *Season 4 (30 Rock), "Season 4" (''30 Rock''), an episode of ''30 Rock'' See also

* * Season One (disambiguation) * Season 2 (disambiguation) {{disambiguation ...
episode " 4th Grade" (2000), they entered the
fourth grade Fourth grade (also called grade four, equivalent to Year 5 Year 5 is an educational year group Educational stages are subdivisions of formal learning, typically covering early childhood education, primary education, secondary education and t ...
, 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 overreaction. 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 The idiom An idiom is a phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words which act together as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase which contains the ad ...
all persons fictitious disclaimer An "all persons fictitious" disclaimer in a work of media states that the persons portrayed in it are not based on real people. This is done mostly on realistic films and television programs to reduce the possibility of legal action for libel fro ...
: "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 The TV parental guidelines are a television content rating system in the United States that was first proposed on December 19, 1996, by the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature ...
, 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
carnivalesqueCarnivalesque is a literary mode that subverts and liberates the assumptions of the dominant style or atmosphere through humor and chaos. It originated as "carnival" in Mikhail Bakhtin's ''Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics'' and was further developed ...
and absurdist techniques, numerous
running gag A running gag, or running joke, is a literary device Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human ...

running gag
s,
violence Violence is the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy. Other definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations ...
,
sexual content In media discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation to any form of communication. Discourse is a major topic in social theory, with work spanning fields such as sociology, anthropology, continental philosophy, and di ...
, offhand pop-cultural references, and satirical portrayal of celebrities. Early episodes tended to be
shock value Shock value is the potential of an image, text, action, or other form of communication, such as a public execution, to provoke a reaction of sharp disgust, acute stress reaction, shock, anger, fear, or similar negative emotions. In advertising S ...
-oriented and featured more slapstick-style humor. While social
satire Satire is a of the , , and s, usually in the form of and less frequently , in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, often with the intent of shaming or exposing the perceived flaws of individuals, corpora ...
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 Toilet humour, or potty or scatological humour (compare scatology), is a type of off-colour humour dealing with defecation, urination and flatulence, and to a lesser extent vomiting and other bodily functions. It sees substantial crossover with se ...
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 Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...

liberal
and
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
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 lementary schoolin 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 Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
'' 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...".Arp and Jacoby, p. 58


Development

Parker and Stone met in film class at the
University of Colorado The University of Colorado (CU) is a system of public universities A university () is an of (or ) and which awards s in several . Universities typically offer both and programs in different schools or faculties of learning. The word ...

University of Colorado
in 1992 and discovered a shared love of
Monty Python Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British surreal comedy troupe A comedy troupe is a group of comedians and associated personnel who work together to perform comedy as entertainment. The term is often used inte ...
, which they often cite as one of their primary inspirations. They created an
animated short Animation is a method in which figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation on the reverse side of an already inked cel. Traditional animation (or classical animation, cel animation, hand-drawn animation, 2D a ...
entitled '' The Spirit of Christmas''. The film was created by animating construction paper cutouts with
stop motion Stop motion is an animation, animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series ...

stop motion
, and features
prototype A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, including semantics Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") ...

prototype
s 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 The Fox Broadcasting Company (often shortened to Fox and stylized in all caps as FOX) is an Television in the United States, American Commercial broadcasting, commercial terrestrial television, broadcast television network owned by Fox Corporati ...
executive and mutual friend
Brian Graden Brian Graden (born 1963) is an American television Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in color, and in two or thre ...
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 video right , 300px , Cumulative video views, leading to a lower, but relatively stable, long-term growth rate by the end of the first year. A viral video is a video Video is an Electronics, electronic medium for the recording, copying, pl ...
s. 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 Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain West The Mountain West Conference (MW) is one of the collegiate athletic conferences affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic ...

Colorado
town of South Park. Fox eagerly agreed to meet with the duo about the show's premise, having prided itself on edgier products such as ''Cops'', ''
The Simpsons ''The Simpsons'' is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of American life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer Simpson, Homer, Marge Si ...
'', and ''
The X-Files ''The X-Files'' is an American science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and ...
''. However, during the meeting at the Fox office in
Century City Century City is a 176-acre (71.2 ha) neighborhood and business district in Los Angeles, California Los Angeles (; es, Los Ángeles; "The Angels"), officially the City of Los Angeles and often abbreviated as L.A., is the largest city 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 20th Television (formerly 20th Century Fox Television) is an American television production A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set A television set or television receiver, mo ...
(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 meet their demands, the duo cut ties with Fox and its sister companies all together and began shopping the series somewhere else. The two then entered negotiations with both
MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in New York City, it serves as the flagship property of the ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks division of ViacomCBS. Prio ...

MTV
and
Comedy Central Comedy Central (Formerly Styled As COMEDY ꓶⱯꓤꓕNƎꓛ) is an American basic cable television channel, channel owned by ViacomCBS through its ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks, domestic network division's MTV Entertainment Group unit, based ...

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 Doug Herzog (born July 16, 1959) is an American television executive. He was formerly the president of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, he oversaw MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel th ...

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 An aircraft pilot or aviator is a person who controls the flight of an aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support from the Atmosphere of Earth, air. It counters the force of gravity by using eit ...
episode "
Cartman Gets an Anal Probe "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" is the series premiere of the American animated television series ''South Park ''South Park'' is an American animated sitcom An animated sitcom is a subgenre of the sitcom that is animation, animated instead of ...
". ''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.


Production

Except for the pilot episode, which was produced using
cutout animation Cutout animation is a form of using flat characters, s and backgrounds cut from materials such as , card, stiff or s. The props would be cut out and used as puppets for stop motion. The world's earliest known animated feature films were cutou ...
, all episodes of ''South Park'' are created with the use of software, primarily
Autodesk Maya Autodesk Maya, commonly shortened to just Maya ( ), is a 3D computer graphics application that runs on Windows, macOS macOS (; previously Mac OS X and later OS X) is a Proprietary software, proprietary graphical user interf ...
. 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 South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is for ...

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 with iconic tower Image:Fox Bruin Theater (Westwood).jpg, Bruin Theater Los Angeles Temple, 2004 Westwood is a commercial and residential neighborhood in the northern central portion of the Westside (Los Angeles County), Westside region of L ...
and are now part of South Park Studios in
Culver City, California Culver City is a city in Los Angeles County, California Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, and sometimes abbreviated as L.A. County, is the List of the most populous counties in the United States, most populous county ...
. Parker and Stone have been the show's executive producers throughout its entire history.
Debbie Liebling Deborah Liebling is an United States, American entertainment executive and film producer. She was formally President of Production of Universal Pictures. Previously, she was a Senior Production Executive at 20th Century Fox. Before her tenure at ...
, 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 Comedy Central (Formerly Styled As COMEDY ꓶⱯꓤꓕNƎꓛ) is an American basic cable television channel, channel owned by ViacomCBS through its ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks, domestic network division's MTV Entertainment Group unit, based ...

Comedy Central
for airing in just a few days' time.


Writing

Scripts are not written before a season begins. Production of an episode begins on a Thursday, with the show's writing consultants
brainstorming Brainstorming is a creativity technique, group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. In other words, brainstorming is a si ...

brainstorming
with Parker and Stone. Former staff writers include
Pam Brady Pam Brady is an American writer and television producer, best known for her work with ''South Park ''South Park'' is an American animated sitcom An animated sitcom is a subgenre of the sitcom that is animation, animated instead of live act ...
, who has since written scripts for the films ''
Hot Rod Hot rods are typically American cars that might be old, classic, or modern and that have been rebuilt or modified with large engines optimised for speed and acceleration. One definition is: "a car that's been stripped down, souped up and made ...
'', ''
Hamlet 2 ''Hamlet 2 '' is a 2008 American comedy film A comedy film is a category of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Paintin ...
'' and '' Team America: World Police'' (with Parker and Stone), and
Nancy Pimental Nancy Marie Pimental (born May 31, 1965) is an United States, American actress and film writer, film and television writer. Life and career Born in Boston, Massachusetts and of Portuguese descent, Pimental graduated from Somerset, MA, Somerset Hi ...
, who served as co-host of ''
Win Ben Stein's Money ''Win Ben Stein's Money'' is an American television game show created by Al Burton and Donnie Brainard that aired first-run episodes from July 28, 1997 to January 31, 2003, on Comedy Central. The show featured three contestants who competed to answ ...
'' and wrote the film ''
The Sweetest Thing ''The Sweetest Thing'' is a 2002 American romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life fiction, focusing on lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as ...
'' after her tenure with the show during its first three seasons. Television producer and writer
Norman Lear Norman Milton Lear (born July 27, 1922) is an American television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Media (communication), medium used for transmitting moving images in grayscale, black-and-white or i ...

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 ''Saturday Night Live'' (also known as ''SNL'') is an American late-night live television sketch comedy Sketch comedy comprises a series of short, amusing scenes or vignettes, called "sketches", commonly between one and ten minutes long, ...

Saturday Night Live
'' actor and writer
Bill Hader Bill Hader (born June 7, 1978) is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer, and director. He is the creator, producer, writer, occasional director, and star of the HBO Home Box Office (HBO) is an American pay television Pay televi ...
served as a
creative consultant Creative consultant is a credit that has – particularly in the past – been given to screenwriters who have script doctor, consulted on a movie screenplay. Those given this credit in the television field work closely with an executive producer an ...
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 seasonFourth is the ordinal form of the Four (number), number four. Fourth or the fourth may refer to: * Fourth (album), ''Fourth'' (album), a 1971 album by Soft Machine * Fourth (angle), in ancient astronomical works an angle equal to of of an arcse ...
(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 The Eastern Time Zone (ET) is a time zone A time zone is an area that observes a uniform standard time Standard time is the synchronization of clock A clock or a timepiece is a device used to Measurement, measure and indic ...
. 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 fourSeason 4 may refer to: *Season 4 (30 Rock), "Season 4" (''30 Rock''), an episode of ''30 Rock'' See also

* * Season One (disambiguation) * Season 2 (disambiguation) {{disambiguation ...
(2000) episode " Quintuplets 2000", which references the
United States Border Patrol The United States Border Patrol (USBP) is the United States Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) federal law enforcement arm within the United States Department of Homeland Security The United States Department of Homeland Security (DH ...
'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 "Best friends forever" is a phrase that describes a close friendship Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association, and has been studied in academic fields s ...
" references the
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, 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 "It's Christmas in Canada" (sometimes called "Christmas in Canada?" or simply "Christmas in Canada") is the fifteenth and final episode of the seventh season of the American animated series ''South Park'' and the 111th episode of the series. The ep ...
" references the discovery of dictator Saddam Hussein in a "spider hole" and his subsequent Operation Red Dawn, capture, which happened a mere three days prior to the episode airing. The South Park (season 12), season 12 (2008) episode "About Last Night... (South Park), About Last Night..." revolves around Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 United States presidential election, 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 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 Stop motion is an animation, animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series ...

stop motion
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techniques were used in the original animated shorts and in the pilot episode. Subsequent episodes have been produced by
computer animation " technique Computer animation is the process used for digitally generating animated images. The more general term computer-generated imagery Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the application of computer graphics to create or contribute to i ...
, 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 Traditional animation, 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 color, 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 Silicon Graphics, SGI workstations to animate the characters. The workstations were linked to a 54-processor render farm that could render 10 to 15 shot (filmmaking), shots an hour. Beginning with South Park (season 5), season five, the animators began using Autodesk Maya, 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 (software), 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 South Park (season 8), season eight (2004) premiere "Good Times with Weapons" are done in anime style, while the South Park (season 10), season 10 episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" is done partly in machinima. The South Park (season 12), season 12 episode "Major Boobage", a homage to the 1981 animated film ''Heavy Metal (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 South Park (season 7), 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 The Walt Disney Company, 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 anthropomorphism, anthropomorphic towel named Towelie (character), Towelie, and production supervisor John Hansen (voice actor), 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 (South Park), Chef, an African-American, soul music, 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 Darth Chef, killed off in the South Park (season 10), 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 (musician), Robert Smith, and the bands Radiohead and Korn. Comedy team Cheech & Chong voiced characters representing their likenesses for the
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* * Season One (disambiguation) * Season 2 (disambiguation) {{disambiguation ...
(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
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* * Season One (disambiguation) * Season 2 (disambiguation) {{disambiguation ...
episode "Pip (South Park), Pip". Jennifer Aniston, Richard Belzer, Natasha Henstridge,
Norman Lear Norman Milton Lear (born July 27, 1922) is an American television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Media (communication), medium used for transmitting moving images in grayscale, black-and-white or i ...

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 South Park (season 1), 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 South Park (season 2), season two (1998) episode "City on the Edge of Forever (South Park), City on the Edge of Forever". Jerry Seinfeld offered to lend his voice for the Thanksgiving (United States), Thanksgiving episode "Starvin' Marvin (South Park), Starvin' Marvin", but declined to appear when he was only offered a role as "Turkey #2".


Music

Parker says that the varying uses of music is of utmost importance to ''South Park''.Arp and Broman, pp. 236–49 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 Rhythm and blues, 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 (band), Primus, Rancid (band), Rancid, and Ween all guest starred and briefly performed in the South Park (season 2), season two (1998) episode "Chef Aid". Korn debuted their single "Falling Away from Me" as guest stars on the South Park (season 3), 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 (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 Obscenity, sexually explicit in nature, such as his original lines, "I like girls with big fat titties, I like girls with deep vaginas". 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 music, 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 (music), beat is upbeat, 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 Consonance and dissonance, 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 music, pop qualities. Seasons 6–9 have a sprightly bluegrass music, 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 electronic music, synthesized, Groove (music), 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 (album), Purple Onion''.


Episodes


Distribution


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 (Australia), Comedy Central and free-to-air channel SBS Viceland (before 2009), while new episodes aired on SBS (Australian TV channel), 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 (TV channel), Much. ''South Park'' also airs in Irish on TG4 in Ireland, STV (TV network), STV in Scotland, Comedy Central (UK and Ireland), Comedy Central and MTV (UK and Ireland), MTV in the UK (previously on Sky One, Channel 4 and Viva (UK and Ireland), 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-LV, 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 Disney-ABC Domestic Television, 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 South Park (season 23), 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: The Movie, Imaginationland'' story arc was reissued direct-to-video, straight-to-DVD as a full-length feature in 2008. Blu-ray releases started in 2008 with the release of South Park (season 12), 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 Video on demand, on-demand streaming media, legal streaming on the official South Park Studios website. (Link not accessible from outside the U.S.) 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 Media player (software), 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 (South Park), 200" and "201 (South Park), 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 as . 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 between and .


Re-rendered episodes

From its debut in 1997 to the The Ungroundable, season twelve finale in 2008 the series had been produced in standard definition. In 2009, the series switched to being produced in High-definition television, high definition 1080p with the beginning of the South Park (season 13), thirteenth season. Since this, all seasons originally produced in standard definition have been remastered by South Park Studios, being fully Rendering (computer graphics), 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 201 (South Park)#Threats and censorship, 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.


Reception


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, "
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", earned a Nielsen ratings, Nielsen rating of 1.3 (980,000 viewers), at the time considered high for a Cable television in the United States, 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 (South Park), 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 (South Park), 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 South Park (season 2), 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 South Park (season 14), 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, ''
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'' 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 TV Guide is an American digital media company that provides television program TV listings, listings information as well as entertainment and television-related news. The company sold off its print magazine division, TV Guide Magazine, TV Guide ...
's 2002 list of the "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters", 198th on VH1's "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons", 19th on Bravo (US TV network), 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
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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 Media Awards, GLAAD Award for Outstanding TV – Individual Episode for "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride". ''South Park'' has been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour), 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 "
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", the 2006 episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft", the 2009 episode "Margaritaville (South Park), Margaritaville", and the 2012 episode "Raising the Bar (South Park), Raising the Bar". The "Imaginationland Episode I, 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 Modern liberalism in the United States, 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 Public school (United Kingdom), 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, 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 South Park (season 5), 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 South Park (season 11), season 11 episode "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" generated relatively little controversy, as most in the black community and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 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 Mary (mother of Jesus), Virgin Mary in the season nine (2005) finale "Bloody Mary (South Park), Bloody Mary" that angered several Catholicism, 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 South Park (season 10), season 10 episode "Cartoon Wars Part II" in the wake of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, ''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 (South Park), 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 (South Park), 200" and "201 (South Park), 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 (film director), 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 Gautama Buddha, the Buddha snorting cocaine, prompted the government of Sri Lanka to ban the series outright. Due to many taboo topics in China, such as 14th Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama, Winnie-the-Pooh#Censorship in China, Winnie the Pooh, summary execution, cannabis culture, and Organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China, organ harvesting being involved in the South Park (season 23), 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, Tencent QQ, QQ, Sina Weibo and on WeChat public platforms. Parker and Stone issued a sarcastic apology in response.


Influence and legacy


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 South Park (season 2), 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 (South Park), 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 Drosophila melanogaster, 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 Conservatism in the United States, conservatives have condemned ''South Park'' for its vulgarity, a growing population of people who hold Centre-right politics, center-right political beliefs, including teenagers and young adults, have embraced the show for its tendency to mock Modern liberalism in the United States, liberal viewpoints and lampoon liberal celebrities and icons. Pundit, Political commentator Andrew Sullivan dubbed the group South Park Republican, ''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 Libertarianism in the United States, 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.Matt Stone & Trey Parker Are Not Your Political Allies (No Matter What You Believe)
by Alex Leo, ''The Huffington Post'', February 25, 2010
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 (United States), Middle America. Parker and Stone are uncomfortable with the idea of themselves or ''South Park'' being assigned any kind of Partisan (politics), 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 Gridlock (politics), 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."


Franchise


References

Further Reading * * * * * * * 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. *


External links

* *
''South Park''
on Metacritic
''South Park''
on Rotten Tomatoes
''South Park''
at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
Archived
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