For the past ten years, Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. have been reserved for a special television show that is near and dear to many people’s hearts: “South Park.” Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker derived the show from a short film entitled “The Spirit of Christmas.” Over the past ten years, “South Park” has garnered both commercial and critical success. Last year, the show won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. To coincide with the airing of the series’ tenth season on Oct. 4, Parker and Stone opted to release a DVD collection entitled “South Park: The Hits.” This collection contains such classic episodes as “Scott Tenorman Must Die” and “Towelie” to more recent ones such as “Best Friends Forever” and “Trapped in the Closet.” However, over the past year, audiences saw “South Park” engulfed in many controversies. To begin the tenth season (the show airs in “runs,” half in the spring and half in the fall), Stone and Parker parted ways with Isaac Hayes who provided the voice of Chef. Prior to that, the episode “Trapped in the Closet” was banned after Tom Cruise sent an enraged letter to Comedy Central. Later, the episode “Bloody Mary” was pulled due to a backlash from the Christian community. Despite these controversies, many fans felt that the first half of the tenth season was rather lackluster with such disappointing episodes as “A Million Little Fibers” and “Manbearpig.” However, there were some bright spots including the two-part “Cartoon Wars” saga which attacked both “Family Guy” and censorship, along with the debate over the Dutch political cartoons featuring Muhammad.
Despite a few gems over the past few years, the show has moved in a new direction to the dismay of many fans. Instead of continuing to be a standard comedy show, it has become an outlet for Stone and Parker’s political views. That continued into the first half of the tenth season where, instead of episodes revolving around talking fecal matter, they tackled such issues as global warming and gay marriage. While a more sophisticated form of satire may have been a welcome change in the show’s format for some, many fans have expressed grievances that the show is no longer funny.
The second half of the tenth season kicked off on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The episode, entitled “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” proved one thing: Stone and Parker are still capable of writing a non-political episode. With no political commentary, the episode targeted people who spend all their time playing the online game “World of Warcraft.” The story centers on the boys’ quest to defeat a renegade player who may destroy the world of Warcraft. While filled with a few humorous jokes, including a hilarious moment where Butters joins the fight with the same character as Cartman, the episode continued the lackluster slide of the show. While this episode was filled with more jokes than most of the episodes in the first half, we are seeing how the show is beginning to stray away from its original format. Even the characters are starting to slide as the writers have made some of the humor more obvious as opposed to the subtle humor that existed in the earlier seasons.
Over ten years viewers have watched as “South Park” has grown from a show filled with gross-out humor to the standard for political and social satire. Despite the fact that the show has decreased in quality over the years, we still all find something enjoyable in the new episodes.