It’s been a strange year for politics and pop culture. For whatever reason, it’s been a perfect storm of presidential debates, big-name movie franchises, and everything in between, and it’s made the world of comedy that much better for it. Even in the midst of all this though, the true potential of this landscape has yet to be fully utilized, largely because South Park has yet to enter into the equation. Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s brainchild has traditionally been the social commentary that sets the tone, and they’ll be entering the fray this week in a big way.
South Park‘s 19th season premiere will hit the ground running, taking on both the controversy surrounding Caitlyn Jenner as well as Tom Brady’s involvement with “Deflategate.” It’s an ambitious first episode to say the least, and somehow is still the tip of the iceberg in terms of the material the show has to draw from. Just think of everything that’s gone down in the first 8 and a half months of 2015: Donald Trump, Jurassic World opening the biggest weekend at the box office ever, Mad Max redefining gender roles in action movies, Jay-Z and friends launching TIDAL, the list just goes on and on.
Perhaps what’s most curious about all this is the fact that South Park has waited as long as they have to for their premiere. It’s a trend that dates back to 2012; before then, the show traditionally debuted in the Spring. With Internet and pop culture proliferating the way it has since then, the strategy to wait until September is one that allows Parker and Stone enough time to prioritize the most important trends of the year rather than taking them on as they arrive.
Even with all a veritable comedic goldmine, South Park will continue to have resources to draw from as the latter months of the year go by. Donald Trump isn’t going anywhere, the new Star Wars has yet to hit theaters, and in the meantime, the pop culture train will never stop moving. 2015 has been absolutely action-packed to say the very least. For a show that thrives on having things to parody and make fun of, the board is set for the Comedy Central mainstay to affect the social commentary landscape more than they ever have before.
To understand this, it’s worth looking back on how the series has evolved in its almost two decades on the air. It began as a crudely animated take on foul-mouthed kids. Since then, it’s become the go-to resource for 20-somethings in terms of validating their own opinions on pop culture and politics. Every time something significant occurs in the pop culture landscape, the expectation is that South Park will step in to tell us how we should feel. For better or worse, a cartoon became the way we form our opinions, and it’s only become more influential for every year it’s been on the air.
Given all that’s transpired in 2015, a show with the clout that South Park has is primed for greatness. Really the only question here is whether the opinions of the series will align with a society whose collective feelings are as mercurial as the pop culture it indulges in. People are constantly itching for comedy that voices their own thoughts on key social issues, and for years now, South Park has functioned as that outlet. With this year shaping up the way it has, we don’t see that ending any time soon either.
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