Few television shows can truly boast having a cultural impact. In the moment, a show may be on the cusp of whatever is going on in the world and may have that working to its advantage. But at the core of it all, the one thing it takes to have a cultural impact? Longevity.
Last month, South Park used the premiere of their 23rd Season to comment on what is going on with the NBA and China, something we detailed previously here. This lead to South Park getting banned entirely in China and Matt Stone and Trey Parker just buckling down further. In last night’s episode, they further poked fun at China by having the character Randy wearing a mask depicting President Xi Jinping in the opening credits.
And not to be left out, they also went after Harvey Weinstein, who was screamed at by multiple comedians in a comedy club he was sitting in last week and called out onstage on multiple occasions. Here, there were references to him having raped Randy in the episode.
What this shows is something of rarified air. When most shows become apart of the pop culture lexicon to the magnitude that South Park has, you see cases where they sometimes will show signs of becoming what they once mocked. It is nearly impossible a task to be able to have your cake and eat it, too. But somehow, after 23 years in, the relentlessness still reins strong, and remains something we need now more than ever. A show that should have every reason to have begun phoning it in and becoming apart of the system, but to our consistent joy, continues to reject such a notion.
How far does this go? Tuesday it was announced that HBO Max has picked the exclusive streaming rights for South Park for $500-$550 million dollars, over the currently Disney-owned Hulu.
“South Park is unequivocally among the best—setting the satirical gold standard, with a consistent finger on the comedy pulse,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max in a statement. “Audiences have connected with Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny – either alive or dead – for over 20 years, and we look forward to connecting these characters to new audiences on HBO Max.”
When all is said and done, we will all be long gone before South Park is even close to losing steam at this point. And that’s quite alright.