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South Park Season 23 Premiere and Why Their System Still Works

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BY February 18, 2021

When you start to think about cartoons that have been around for too long, you’re probably going to think about The Simpsons. After all, it has been on since 1989. But did you know that South Park has also been around for over two decades? That’s right. It premiered way back in 1997, older than much of the show’s target audience. What South Park managed to master, above and beyond any other culture-referencing show, is taking on hot topics in a timely way. They write, voice record, and animate their shows within the week between episodes. So, they can literally release an episode as a cultural phenomenon is beginning. Their latest episode, the premiere of Season 23, proved that South Park is still on top of their game when talking about what’s relevant, and making it funny.

Is The South Park Premiere Their Best?

South Park season 23 premiere Image via Comedy Central.

South Park, ironically, now suffers from a “South Park did it” situation.  In the premiere episode, “Mexican Joker”, Cartman learns that he can call in anonymous reports about undocumented citizens, and ICE raids their homes or workplaces. While this is a pretty topical premise, South Park already did something similar. In “The Wacky Molestation Adventure” back in season 4, Cartman encouraged his friends to file reports of their parents molesting them so that they’d be taken away. In true fable fashion, the boys learned their lesson back in season 4. But as they approach their 300th episode, reusing premises are bound to happen. So, as long as they’re keeping them relevant, we can forgive them. Right?

“Mexican Joker” deals with three distinct storylines that end up colliding. Randy sells marijuana and becomes frustrated with home-growers. Cartman sends Kyle to ICE, only to be sent himself. And ICE is concerned that their stolen citizens will wind up being villains (or, a Mexican Joker) someday, because of the tragic backstory that they’re providing. Considering how many conversations in the media are discussing the upcoming Joker film, we’re not surprised that they threw this in. Though, while ICE raids are still an ongoing situation in the U.S., other shows have discussed its implications and harsh realities already. Was this really the best choice for a season premiere?

What Direction Will South Park Go?

“We make decisions now that affect our future,” Kyle shouts at an ICE worker near the end of “The Mexican Joker”. Considering all of the political conversations surrounding climate change this week, it’s clear that South Park will remain on top of what’s new. Though, there is an upcoming U.S. Presidential Election. When South Park followed the last election, they messed up. Assuming that the Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton would win, they based their plotline around this. And when she lost, you could tell that there was some rushing behind the scenes to keep up. So, if the team plans on approaching the new election (which, of course, they will) they’ll have to reconsider their assumptions, much like many political reporters had to.

Readers, did you watch the South Park season 23 premiere? What did you think? And what would you like to see them take on in upcoming episodes? Our biggest hope here at Comic Years is for an Area 51 raid spoof. What’s yours?

Featured image via Comedy Central.

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Meghan Hale is a graduate student living right outside of Toronto, Canada. She has always been the go-to gal for talking about anything film related and has a frustratingly long list of movie trivia up her sleeve. She is currently working on her first screenplay, as well as a horror novel, with the goal of publishing it while Stephen King is still around to read it.

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