South Park

TV review by
Marjorie Kase, Common Sense Media
South Park TV Poster Image
Outrageous, shocking humor carries a message.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 200 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 668 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show uses parody and gross-out humor to address semi-serious issues -- war, political chicanery, sexism, classism. Characters are frequently stereotyped, but sometimes in subversive and pointed ways: a black character is called "token." A disabled character named Timmy is a minor character and accepted member of a group of young friends in later seasons (instead of being a one-joke character in earlier seasons), but also says things like "tard." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No one is intended to be a role model. 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 departure, the main group of friends on the show is surrounded by ineffectual adults and largely on its own for moral guidance. 

Violence

Over-the-top cartoon violence is more gross than scary. The same character dies in almost every one of the early episode, often brutally. Later episodes drop that joke, but still mock death and violence in absurd ways. 

Sex

Sexual innuendo frequent; endless jokes about hermaphrodites, homosexuality, promiscuity, and pedophilia. Lots of bare butts.

Language

Frequent cursing, often from young characters. "Hell," "damn," "crap," and other vulgar language is not bleeped when aired, "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped. Language is not bleeped online. Racist, homophobic, and antireligious slurs frequent. 

Consumerism

Episodes parody products such as iPads and other brands, including Chipotle and Starbucks. Real celebs such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Elon Musk are mocked, or appear on the show as characters. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug use (illegal and prescription) and alcohol are sometimes portrayed in a negative light.

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). 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 year old Written byPumpkin pie3 November 23, 2009

South park

I am a Christian dad of a 12 year old boy and as long as you show your kids that they are not role models then I don't see anyharm in letting my kid watch... Continue reading
Parent of a 14 year old Written byMr. Boxbox September 23, 2009
great show. content can range from a few swear words to explicit graphic raunchy humor. it really depends what episode you are watching.
Kid, 11 years old May 1, 2010

Best show on Tv

OK. Everybody out there thinks that South Park is so horrible and stuff. In my opinion South Park is one of the best shows on TV. It makes fun of everything and... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byaaaaaaaaaa July 12, 2009

Many parents underestimate what kids can handle

Most kids have common sense to tell what is entertainment fiction and reality. By the age of 12 most kids already know all the swears and when and how to use th... Continue reading

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? 

TV details

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