As many people know, South Park has been on for over 20 years, and with 21 seasons under their belts, it’s odd to think that out of all the cartoons in existence, this is one of the longest running that hasn’t gotten stale. Why is it that shows like Spongebob or Family Guy get criticized for being repetitive while often having half the number of seasons?
Here are some reasons why South Park hasn’t gotten bad:
South Park episodes usually consist if mocking every political topic and current event. While it seems that this would be overdone, this idea of political commentaries allows the creators to move with the times. They almost always have a new idea because the world gives them material to work with. One moment they talk about how Kim Kardashian uses Photoshop to manipulate her image, then right when you think the show is out of ideas, Hillary Clinton starts overusing the phrase “my opponent is a liar and cannot be trusted,” giving the writers new material to work with. Sometimes the message is extremely subtle. In the episode “Sons A Witches,” a group of dads decide to dress like witches on Halloween night and then get wasted and do drugs on a mountain, but when one of them gets possessed and starts killing people, the people of South Park start saying that the guys shouldn’t go and get wasted during the night. The dads then immediately jump to the conclusion that they’re all part of a “pursuit.” A situation that could be connected to some current day racial issues.
Most TV shows usually give the each of the main cast a dimensional personality. Take The Simpsons as an example. When push comes to shove, most of the characters have a very simple personality. Homer is an idiotic glutton, Bart’s a trouble maker, Lisa’s the smart one, the list goes on. However, with South Park, most of the characters’ personalities feel less cliché. And even if the are, it’s more subtle. Stan has the most common sense but can still be ignorant at times, Kyle is usually first to take action in a situation even if it can go too far, and Cartman is an outright terrible person but is presented in such an over-exaggerated way that we still find him hilarious. Even Kenny, the character whose main gimmick is that he dies in almost every episode, still comes off as relatable at times. And that’s only the main cast. South Park is full of characters who almost always feel relatable.
South Park has always been known for having extremely low budget animation. However, there is a high point to having paper cut-outs for characters, scenery, etc. Since the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, use animation that’s so easy to do, it allows them to focus on the plot and humor. It also gives the show an iconic charm that no other cartoon can capture. It may take a bit for someone to recognize Bob’s Burgers, but anyone can recognize South Park when they see it.
We may never have a clear idea of why South Park remains popular. In the end, South Park still remains a beloved show. And judging by its success, it probably will stay that way for a long time.