A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show uses parody and gross-out humor to address issues including war, politics, sexism, and classism.
Positive Role Models
Fourth graders swear, are egotistical, and make iffy choices; adults are equally flawed. In earlier seasons, Chef was an imperfect mentor; upon the actor's (Isaac Hayes) departure, the main group of friends on the show is surrounded by ineffectual adults and largely on its own for moral guidance.
An equal opportunity offender, the show depicts -- and skewers -- characters of every possible race, cultural background, and sexual orientation, as well as characters with disabilities. Characters are frequently stereotyped, but sometimes in subversive and pointed ways: a Black character is named "Token." A disabled character named Timmy is a minor character and part of the accepted member of a group of young friends in later seasons (instead of being a one-joke character in earlier seasons), but he also says things like "tard."
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Violence & Scariness
Over-the-top animated violence is gross for comedy's sake rather than scary or gory. Characters die from gunshots and torture, cartoon blood is shown. The same character dies in almost every one of the early episodes, often brutally. Later episodes drop that joke but still mock death and violence in absurd ways. References to pedophilia.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Frequent sexual innuendo/references; endless jokes about "hermaphrodites," homosexuality, and promiscuity. Lots of bare butts. Breasts are shown occasionally.
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Every possible curse word is used, often by young characters: "hell," "damn," "crap," "s--t," and "f--k," as well as "c--t." Frequent use of racist, homophobic, and religion-based slurs. Curse words are bleeped when the show airs in syndication.
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Products & Purchases
Episodes parody products such as iPads and other brands, including Chipotle and Starbucks. Real celebs such as Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Elon Musk are mocked or appear on the show as characters.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug and alcohol use are sometimes portrayed in a negative light. Characters often reference marijuana.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that South Park is a satirical animated series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone that isn't meant for young kids. It's jam packed with mature themes, swearing (including "f--k," "s--t," and more), 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 inappropriate content are frequently used to offer social commentary. In earlier seasons, one of the main characters, Kenny (voiced by Matt Stone), dies in almost every episode. Later seasons drop that gag but continue to poke at things many people take seriously and mock real people and events, including the United States' divisive 2016 election. Some later seasons of the show are loosely focused around specific issues, i.e. political correctness and online trolling. Note: Episodes have been edited for content when broadcast on some platforms; this review is of the unedited version of the show.
Is It Any Good?
Shocking, offensive, and often hilarious, the show continues to undermine authority with its creative and insightful critiques of the media, politics, and celebrity hype. Though not without controversy, South Park has a unique way of underscoring the hypocrisy of political correctness and poking holes in pretension.
The irreverent series requires a certain level of media literacy to understand its essential message. Granted, the show's serious points occasionally get 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 simple animation style allows it to be produced much more quickly and inexpensively than most animated series, making it possible to tackle current events and news stories. 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.