A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that South Park is an animated satirical series that isn't meant for young kids. There are lots of mature themes, swearing, over-the-top cartoon violence, potty humor, and innuendo. People of every race, class, gender, religion, profession, and credo are parodied, and racial and religious slurs, stereotypes, and other politically incorrect content is frequently used to offer social commentary. In earlier seasons, of the main characters dies in almost every episode. (Note: Episodes aired in syndication have been edited for content to meet network broadcasting standards.) Later seasons drop that gag, but continue to poke at sacred cows and mock real people and events, such as the divisive 2016 Presidential race, as well as to loosely focus whole seasons of the show around various issues, i.e. political correctness (season 19) and online trolling (season 20).
What's the story?
Brought to you by gross-out impresarios Matt Stone and Trey Parker, SOUTH PARK is an animated show featuring the bizarre exploits of four foul-mouthed Colorado elementary school children. Cartman is obnoxious, racist, anti-Semitic, spoiled, and selfish; Stan is earnest and afraid of girls (especially Wendy Testaberger, whose mere presence provokes vomit); Kyle is Jewish and confused about his identity, which isn't helped by Cartman's constant insults; and Kenny (R.I.P.) is mysteriously killed off in many episodes (though he stayed alive in later seasons of the show). Insanity (and inanity) prevails in the boys' small mountain town as it's constantly overcome by strange events involving celebrities, the supernatural, and the just plain weird. Cows are abducted by aliens, snowmen go on killing sprees, and a piece of excrement teaches kids about the spirit of Christmas, Kyle unleashes a wave of online trolling to prevent a government program to transport citizens to Mars.
Is it any good?
Shocking, offensive, and hilarious, South Park continues to undermine authority with its creative and insightful critiques of the media, politics, and celebrity hype. Though not without its controversy, it has a unique way of underscoring the hypocrisy of political correctness, and poking holes in pretension.
The irreverent series requires a certain level of sophistication to understand its essential message. Granted, the show's point gets occasionally muddled in its outrageousness. But for the most part, later installments are as fresh as they were in the show's first few years. South Park's slap-dash animation style allows the show to be produced much more quickly and inexpensively than most animated series. It takes about a week to produce an episode, which means creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone can focus on topical humor and current events. The creators have also taken advantage of their creative freedom to focus later seasons of the show on topics that interest (and probably irritate) Stone and Parker, such as internet outrage and political correctness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the sharp satire that's buried beneath the series' crass jokes. What points are the creators trying to make? Does the show's over-the-top content detract from those points or help make them?
This show is considered controversial by many people/groups. Do you agree? What other movies/shows fall into a similar category?
Compare an episode from South Park's later seasons to an episode from season 1 or 2. How are the shows different? Are there different characters? Storylines? Which episode is funnier?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.