Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Now I’ve pointed out why I don’t think The Simpsons is very funny any more but think Family Guy is hilarious for pretty much the exact same reason when Jim Bevan asked a simple question: Am I going to write a third blog on South Park. At first I thought no, since I can’t talk about a show I don’t watch religiously… but then I decided I might as well see why I don’t want to watch it in the first place. So without further ado lets begin.
I suppose I need to start with elaborating on what South Park I have watched in my life. Truth be told I only really started watching it at the end of last year because it was on TV in America and my room-mates were watching it. In fact the first episode I saw was Osama Bin Laden has Farty Pants, which to me was… 20 minutes of TV. Nothing more, nothing less. I can see why Doug Walker put it at number 1 but to me it was just a TV show. But after watching his ‘Top 11 South Park Episodes’ I decided that since I could see them for free in America (because whilst you guys have hundreds of streaming sites they’re all blocked in NZ) I’d give the show a fair shot. I sat down to watch Woodland Critters’ Christmas… and loved it. It was pretty freaking funny. It was just so over-the-top offensive that I couldn’t help to find it funny, especially with its big twist. So I watched the other episodes featured in the list, the Imaginationland trilogy, the one about trying to get Family Guy cancelled and a few more. So I liked a lot of the humour found in the show. So how can I find the show funny but at the same time not watch it?
Well firstly whilst I think Troy Parker and Matt Stone are indeed very clever individuals… I dislike the toilet humour found in some of the episodes. Now some of it I like, it works well because it’s crafted perfectly… But most of the time it’s a mood killer for me. It ruins a lot of the humour in the scene by just being disgusting. Now of course that is in of itself the joke, it’s so disgusting that it’s funny. But to me it just feels highly unnecessary. You don’t need to make a toilet humour joke in order to make the show funny. The show is funny without resorting to such base humour. It’s often very cleverly satirical at times. But more often than not all it takes is one over-the-top gross-out joke to put me off wanting to watch more of it.
The second reason I don’t watch it is mostly due to how frustrating it is to live in my country. We get TV shows months after they’ve aired in America (for example we’re just now making a big deal out of this new show called MARVEL Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D) so a lot of the topical humour that can be found within it is lost completely. The show is famous for its â€œ7 day productionâ€ so it can get on top of things quite quickly… which are all but lost on the international audience when it finally makes it to their country. As such there have been scenes in episodes I’ve seen that I later learnt were a critical scolding of this or that issue… but from the context of just watching the episode it really did seem like an out of place scene that had no bearing on the plot. Or an out of place episode that left me scratching my head trying to work out what the hell just happened. So a lot of the episodes make jokes that make no sense later on in the broadcast, which brings me up to my second point.
A lot of the humour is based around making fun of problems found in America. Now that’s all well and good since foreigners tend to make the same jokes… but when the episodes start getting really specific about what government policy it’s poking fun at we lose a lot of context. The show could be making fun of a recent proposed bill in America and the rest of the world has no idea what the joke is. They might not even know that such a thing was actually proposed and presumed the writers made it up as a parody (believe me this has happened a number of times before). Likewise they make fun of a very specific part of American culture… that only exists within the American culture and has no impact within other cultures around the world. So again it’s a joke that only works in America but loses its impact over here in NZ. So what’s the point of all this?
Well it showcases that once you remove the topical references all you have left is a show that either does very broad but funny parodies… or a show that tends to make very gross and off-colour jokes. When it makes the broad parodies it’s hilarious. When it makes the gross off-colour jokes it’s a disaster. As such the quality of an episode can vary wildly for me between either really good or really, really bad. As such it’s really hard to get invested in a show that has such a wild variation of quality. Sometimes I might like it, more often than not I won’t. And that’s why I don’t watch South Park.
So there you have it. A round-off of this ever-increasing trilogy (unless there’s a fourth animated TV show I really need to talk about). If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.