In a 60 Minutes interview last year, Trey Parker talked about the keys to South Park’s longevity.
“We probably have more freedom than anyone in television and we have for a long time,” he said.
Now 16 seasons into their run, the comedy duo of Trey Parker and Matt Stone have continued to push the envelope, challenging all aspects of popular culture through their animated children from South Park, Colorado. Den of Geek took at look at the year that was as we proudly present the “South Park Superlative Awards:”
Best Celebrity Takedown:
There’s plenty to choose from here. President Obama was once again a main character but this election season he wasn’t as exciting without McCain and Palin by his side. “Faith Hilling” and “Tebowing” highlighted the meme episode but neither celebrity made an appearance in the show. Honey Boo-Boo should never win anything so by default, the best celebrity takedown goes to “A Scause for Applause” and South Park’s creative take on Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong bracelets.
Best Randy Marsh Moment:
Season 16 was relatively light on Randy Marsh episodes, which have been consistently some of the best in recent years. In “Sarcastaball” Randy is overtaken by sarcasm and creates a new, safer version of football and sarcastically goes head to head with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Bonus points for the Cee-Lo Green appearance.
Asshole Award: Clyde
Little boys don’t like to doing two things – listening to their mothers and flipping the toilet seat up after peeing. Clyde doesn’t get the asshole award for not listening to his mother and inadvertently getting her guts ripped out through the toilet. Why? Because being stubborn doesn’t necessarily make you an asshole. He gets the award for ratting out Stan, once a beacon of hope, for potentially cheating by cutting off his W.W.J.D bracelet.
No one likes a cheater, but no one really likes a narc either.
Character of the Season: Eric Cartman
Stan often took center stage this season and Butters had an increased role, but it was Cartman who once again showed why he’s the glue that holds South Park together. He’s a character who has a flare for the dramatic, a character willing to go above and beyond to ensure that everything goes his way and we see that in several instances in season 16. From telling his kitty how bad it is on the stage of the Republican presidential debate to capturing footage of the Jewpacabra, to seeing that the school’s only two black kids end up happily ever after, Cartman imposes his will on the town. Beyond that, Cartman is a figure who knows no boundaries. He cannot be contained to South Park or even the United States for that matter. Look no further than his fearlessness in ‘Obama Wins’ where he takes on the electorate, the president, China and Disney, all for the sake of feeding his own insatiable ego. And for the sake of the world, we can only hope it never gets fed.
Worst Episode of the Season:
“Cash For Gold” gets the unfortunate distinction as this season’s least entertaining episode. Even Cartman running his own jewelry show couldn’t help a plot lacking any sizzle.
Best Episode of the Season:
The best episode of the season goes to “I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining.”
One of the strengths of the show has been to take on a social issue and examine it through the eyes of the children of South Park. This formula has worked for so long but it is always refreshing when Matt and Trey can come up with a unique way of telling a story. “Ziplining” is a send up of Animal Planet’s “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” and South Park even borrows the show’s narrator, Eric Meyers, to give it an eerie, authentic feel. The brilliance of the episode is that there isn’t a big social issue to tackle here for the boys. They’re just doing something a kid might think is fun but as it turns out is a complete nightmare.
The big surprise in the episode is the use of real life actors to portray Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny, something that has never been done in series. The actors they chose were spot on, giving a hilarious scene some depth beyond the animations we have come to love over the years.
On the surface level, there are enough one-liners and repeatable jokes in the episode to last the whole season between “Shaka Brah,” “Diet Double-Dew,” and “Long story short.” But at the episode’s heart, “Ziplining” is about boys being boys and that’s when South Park is at its best.