South Park Reaches Its 200th Episode

Tonight's new episode of South Park on Comedy Central is titled simply "200."  It will be the 200th episode of the popular and often controversial cartoon series.  How did a show about foul-mouthed kids in a Colorado town become such a pop culture phenomenon, reaching the milestone of its 200th episode?  Its success is a validation of the satirical brilliance of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Ever since Parker and Stone's short film "Jesus vs. Santa" introduced the world to Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny, becoming one of the world's first viral videos on the Internet, audiences have been both shocked by their crass humor and overjoyed by the often intelligent writing.  The series, which has aired since 1997, parodies politics, religion, media, celebrities, and anything else worth poking fun at.  Its quick turnaround time (often a new episode is created in less than a week) allows the series to address current affairs better than most comedy shows in a more timely fashion.  Its no-holds barred approach has lampooned almost every sacred cow imaginable.

Originally, the show was created using stop-motion animation of construction paper cutouts.  Now, the show is animated with computer software, but it still has that great, old-school, traditional animation style that most CGI-cartoons lack.

A feature film version, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, was also successful.  The television series continues to be edgy and hilarious.  For every gross-out toilet gag that makes me think they've gone too far, there are often multiple laugh-out-loud moments of sheer comedic brilliance that I consider to be unparalleled examples of wit, satire, and frequently profound wisdom.

Despite my hyperbolic praise and all the critical acclaim it has received, South Park never takes itself too seriously.  When Isaac Hayes, who played the wonderful character Chef, left the show because of creative differences over an episode about Tom Cruise and Scientology, Trey and Stone didn't shy away from the issue -- instead, they dedicated a whole episode to the matter, in their irreverant style, poking fun at what society considers to be taboo, but also having real charm and showing true affection for the beloved character.

The plot of tonight's 200th episode will allegedly deal with the many celebrities that South Park has mocked and insulted over the years, as they all gather for vengeance.  It should be another classic!

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