The wait is finally over.
Randy Marsh can dust off the old guitar because the band is getting back together. A new era in South Park is set to begin on Wednesday, as the show will take on some sense of normalcy by doing a straight ten-episode run. Before the first episode drops, our TV critics Chris Longo and Nick Harley took a shot a forecasting the topics that could be central to the 17th season of South Park.
1. Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman
If you blinked you probably missed the first clip of South Park’s epic teaser trailer. It’s no coincidence that George Zimmerman was the first image in a trailer devoted to “going there.” The easiest bet on the board is Matt Stone and Trey Parker commenting on the outcome of the Trayvon Martin trial. No one has been better at taking a tragedy and finding a way to cast a humorous, and often shocking, light on the people that unexpectedly come into the public spotlight. Although the shooting and subsequent trial took place long before season 17 started production, the topic is still relevant because of the latest Zimmerman allegations. Could be an ideal fit for the first episode if South Park really wants to return with a loud bang.
2. Miley Cyrus
The United States was on the verge of war with Syria, but the only thing that the public seemed interested in talking about was Miley Cyrus and her incendiary VMA’s performance. Scantily clad, tongue wagging and twerking up a storm, Miley created an uproar. Her turn from Disney princess to shock provocateur is perfect for Matt and Trey to pick apart. Expect a skewering similar to those given to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Who knows, it may even be time for another “harvest”.
The actual war in Syria is a newsworthy enough event to bring South Park back to the Middle East for an episode. Government conspiracy episodes have been some of Matt and Trey’s best work, but finding a solid angle to incorporate Syria and the possible chemical weapons attack could prove to be tricky. At press time we can’t rule it out President Obama saving the day in the Middle East because “BOOM BABY!”
4. Ben Affleck
“Aw Ben Affleck’s spooge!” – Eric Cartman
It’s been a while since Ben Affleck has popped up on South Park. He was last seen dating Cartman’s hand, um, I mean Jennifer Lopez, but not that Jennifer Lopez. After Ben’s big Oscar win and the hoopla he created after being named heir to the Batman throne, it’s reasonable to expect Batffleck to pop up in a new episode. Maybe we will see a reprise of the taco eating Jennifer Lopez, and this could even be a great opportunity for a Coon appearance. Lots of possibilities here.
5. Breaking Bad Parody
South Park loves a good parody and always takes time to lampoon other television shows, so it makes perfect sense for the guys to take a swing at the golden child of the “Golden Age” of television, Breaking Bad. Randy seems to be in his tighty whitey’s just as much as Walter White and who wouldn’t want to see Cartman in the Jesse Pinkman role? There are numerous ways this one could go, and hopefully they’ll knock out of the park like they did with their 24 parody.
6. Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and North West
Kanye West and the Kardashian’s have been famous victims of the South Park treatment, but their union and subsequent child sure makes them ripe for another go-round. Even the name, North West, seems like a South Park joke. They could even point to Kanye’s lackluster Yeezus sales or that leather skirt he seems so fond of, or maybe they could just talk about fishsticks again. We’d be content with it either way.
7. Aaron Hernandez
South Park always tends to dedicate at least one episode to a sports story, and no story seemed to gain more attention this year than that of New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez being the lead suspect in a double murder. Usually a story like this would be too sensitive for other comedy shows to poke fun at, but South Park continuously manages to go after the big stories with style and grace. We’re just hoping we get to hear Cartman say, “Bill Beeeelicheck” at least once.
8. New Pope
The Catholic Church is a perpetual target for South Park and a new pope is perfect for their purposes, except this pope is getting attention for being forward-thinking and lenient. This could be the perfect set-up for one of South Park’s infamous conspiracy-based episodes…or maybe he’s just a Crab-Person in disguise.
9. Ariel Castro/Charles Ramsey
For our wonderful TV critic and Cleveland native Nick Harley, no news story reverberated louder and longer than the news that a local man, Ariel Castro, had kidnapped three girls who were presumed missing and held them captive for ten years. The story even gets more bizarre when the eccentric Charles Ramsey cracks the whole case open in the midst of a McDonald’s run and gives one of the best television interviews ever. The case was horrific and Ariel Castro, after being sentenced to life in prison plus 1000 years, then committed suicide. This is all weighty stuff, but nothing on South Park is out of bounds, don’t be surprised to see this one pop up in some way.
10. NSA, Edward Snowden, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning
Another story that was played up in the teaser trailer was that of Edward Snowden, a former CIA and NSA employee who leaked top-secret documents to the press. It’s a must for this season and the potential NSA episode could and should find a way to incorporate Bradley Manning, a former United States Army soldier who was convicted in violation of the Espionage Act. In a twist, Manning issues a press release after the trial to announce that he wants to be referred to as Chelsea Manning as he undergoes the process of a sex change. The bizarre story has Mr. Garrison written all over it.
11. Xbox One/PS4
Cartman once chose to freeze himself instead of wait a few weeks for the Nintendo Wii to come out. With Nintendo’s struggles well documented, it’s time for Cartman to move on to a new console. Luckily, Xbox One and PS4 come out during the season. If he has to pick between the two consoles, Cartman will struggle with the decision immensely. We all know he wants both, though.
12. Reality TV
South Park has been enamored with reality television lately, with Dog the Bounty Hunter, Snooki and Honey Boo Boo all getting their due. It’s an easy topic to parody considering the cesspool of reality programming that endlessly cycles through television. Some of the newer shows that fit in with what South Park’s targeted before could include Amish Mafia, or Duck Dynasty. Of course, Honey Boo Boo is welcome back any time she wants to chow on a big plate of “sketti and butter.” The problem with using reality programming as a source of inspiration is that South Park can’t rely on James Cameron to raise the bar in every season. Avatar 2 isn’t going to make itself.
13. Social Media
The Internet and mobile device universe develops at an ungodly rapid pace, enough to see a variety of new features introduced in the 11 months since South Park last aired. Expect to see Cartman send a few Snapchats of his smelly dumps or find an even more creative use of Vine in an attempt to get famous. Yeah that actually happens. Cartman is exactly the kind of kid who constantly looks for ways to gain followers on Twitter and has a breakdown if someone “unfollows” him. The changing social media landscape has been referenced in “A Nightmare on Facetime” and “You Have 0 Friends,” and should continue as the boys get their hands on the latest tech goodies.
Excited for the new season? Give us your thoughts on South Park season 17 in the comment section!