Have you seen the latest South Park episode ‘You’re getting old’ yet? If not then I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say we may be witnessing the beginning of the end for Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s satirical foul-mouthed cartoon. If this is to be the case, then we should use this time to reflect upon what has been an amazing 15 year run. Here are the 7 greatest episodes in its illustrious reign;
Scott Tenorman Must Die
Cartman is the best cartoon character of all time – fact. It’s a fact based entirely upon my own opinion, but it is a fact nonetheless. And no episode in all 15 seasons epitomises the hate-filled hilarity of Eric Cartman more than ‘Scott Tenorman Must Die’.
Accustomed to getting his own way, Cartman finds himself being outwitted and short-changed by ninth-grader Scott Tenorman, who hoodwinks the youngster out of $10. Staging his revenge at a chilli cook-off, Cartman’s plot initially seems juvenile (training a pony to bite off Tenorman’s dick – y’know, the usual) but then comes the grand reveal; Cartman has ground Tenorman’s parents up and put their flesh ‘n’ bone into the chilli. The chilli which Tenorman is now eating.
Truly horrific stuff that reaches its peak when Cartman begins licking the devastated teens tears, as Scott’s favorite band Radiohead stand in the background mocking him for being a “crybaby”.
Make Love not Warcraft
It was inevitable that Matt and Trey would turn their attentions to the world of MMORPG’s at some point, and with Make Love not Warcraft they did so with giddy aplomb. Sure their fat, acne-ridden portrayal of gamers might’ve seemed a bit stereotypical initially, but when you have Stan’s Dad joining the mix in aid of the kids’ war against Jenkins, an extraordinarily skilled player with “no life”, things swiftly pick up and a classic is born.
Matt and Trey’s use of Machinima in the in-game sequences is a stroke of absolute genius, and the ‘touching’ moment between Stan and his Pop’s ‘dying’ avatar is a flagrant raspberry in the fact to anyone who takes gaming a little too seriously.
Typically Matt and Trey struggle with keeping a gag running for the duration of one episode; see this series’ ‘Insheeption’ for proof. But the perfectly timed Kanye West spoof ‘Fishsticks’ gave them no such trouble.
Taking a simple premise – West’s inability to understand a terrible joke – and turning it into an attack on the megastar’s fragile ego and lack of self-awareness, Matt and Trey actually managed to bring Kanye down a peg or two, with West tweeting “I GOT A LONG ROAD AHEAD OF ME TO MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE I’M NOT ACTUALLY AHUGE DOUCHE BUT I’M UP FOR THE CHALLENGE. I’M SURE THE WRITERS AT SOUTHPARK ARE REALLY NICE PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE” in response.
We won’t poke fun at his use of all caps this time, though. After all, he is typing with his fins.
The Return of Chef
What do you do when one of your most popular characters has its voice actor run off and join a crazy cult? Why, you take pre-recorded audio footage and film a new episode without him, of course.
When Chef’s voice actor Isaac Hayes quit the show after it had made some derogatory comments towards his Scientology religion, Matt and Trey were never going to let sleeping dogs lie. They used old recordings of Hayes and haphazardly joined them together in order to form new sentences, with the strangeness that ensued being put down to Chef being “brainwashed” by a paedophile cult called The Super Adventure Club.
Matt and Trey’s second attack against Scientology was thinly veiled, with it being made clear that they felt they had lost Hayes to the “fruity little club” following Stan and Kyle’s begging for him to return to normality again. It wasn’t to be, though, as Chef died a gruesome death in the very same episode.
The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers
This one’s on pretty much every South Park fans’ top 10 list (or in my case, top 6) and for good reason. Containing very little of the satire we’ve come to expect (obvious LOTR references aside), TROTFOTRTTTT is a straight-up rib-tickler of the highest calibre.
Sent on a ‘quest’ by their parents to return The Fellowship of the Ring to Butters’ parents, Stan, Kyle and Cartman (who is also carrying the disembodied spirit of Kenny) set off on said ‘quest’ with childlike excitement.
However, it’s all brought crashing down to vulgarity when it transpires that the videotape doesn’t contain LOTR at all, rather an obscenely explicit porno that Stan’s parents rented. Butters watches it, is launched into puberty and transforms into Gollum, while the other kids continue with their quest blissfully unaware of the treasures that lie inside the VHS box. Pure gold.
Trapped in the Closet
Matt and Trey’s balls must be the size of grapefruits for taking this one on. Unveiling the strange beliefs of Scientologists for the whole world to see, they were essentially begging for law suits to be filed against them by the crazy cultists and ensuring that they would never be invited to a Hollywood party again.
The explanation of the Scientology religion actually included no jokes, as the truth was so bloody hilarious that none were required; essentially, this was the easiest South Park episode they could’ve ever created.
Couple their lambasting of a religion with the unsubtle hints towards John Travolta and Tom Cruise’s oft-discussed sexuality, and what you are left with is a South Park episode that goes out of its way to piss off just about every loony in Tinseltown. Just the way we like it.