Since South Park made its debut on August 13, 1997, it’s become one of the most renowned television series of all time. The show follows four boys who live in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado. But, before fans knew about Cartman or Chef, the show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone met in film class at the University of Colorado. Afterward, they created an animated short The Spirit of Christmas, which opened the door. With the show being on air for long, there’s plenty to learn from the cast. But, it’s not really for the kids to watch.
The Show Pioneered “Mature” Television
South Park entered the small screen circuit during the summer of 1997. The show came just in time to reap the benefits of the Federal Communications Commission’s latest venture: TV Parental Guidelines.
The rating system went into effect in January of that same year, distinguishing “child-friendly” programming from “adult content.” Following the show’s premiere on Comedy Central, it became the first weekly series to earn the Mature Audiences label.
Some Of The Female Cast Members Perform Under Different Names
The Colorado town’s female population has long owed its lines to a number of women behind the voices. Mona Marshall, April Stewart, Eliza Schneider, and the late Mary Kay Bergman are the female talents on the show.
Before South Park, Bergman was sometimes credited as Shannen Cassidy to avoid fallout from the differences between that show and her family-friendly material. Stewart would adopt the alias Gracie Lazar while Schneider performed under “Blue Girl”, a handle she used in her music career.
A Few Celebrities Played Easy-To-Miss Cameos
The show’s preferred use of celebrity guest stars differs from other animated sitcoms. They aim to “play up” the recognition of a visiting voice actor. With some exceptions, South Park favors hiding any trace of a star’s contribution to an episode.
The difference is that Parker and Stone relegate big-name guests to something like animal sounds. Actos including George Clooney, Jay Leno, and Henry Winkler have provided dog barks, monster growls, and cat purrs.
One Notable Fan Refused To Guest Star
Not all Hollywood stars are game for this level of work. Taking note of South Park’s rise to popularity, Jerry Seinfeld got in touch with Parker and Stone. The comedian asked if he could record a guest voice since he was a fan of the animated sitcom.
The creators then offered Seinfeld the nonspeaking part of Turkey No. 2 in the first season episode “Starvin’ Marvin.” However, he was put off by the offer and didn’t accept it.
Well-Known Names Have Written For The Series
Bill Hader has been a creative consultant for the show since the 12th season. The Saturday Night Live alum got involved with the series thanks to his friendship with Stone. Hader is among the series producers to win the 2009 Emmy Award for Best Animated Series.
Meanwhile, Kristen Schaal was also credited for the same role as Hader and a writer for the 11th season. Then, she padded her resume with roles on Flight of the Conchords and 30 Rock.
A Sitcom Legend Contributed To Two Episodes
It’s no surprise that Parker and Stone hold a spot in their hearts for the king of all politically incorrect sitcoms: All in the Family. The pairs communal dream actually came true when the brain behind the groundbreaking sitcom, Norman Lear, brought his talents to the fictional Colorado town.
Lear was even set as a writing consultant on two seventh-season episodes. He was in the episode “Cancelled” as well as the show’s 100th episode titled “I’m A Little Bit Country.”
The Show Reunited A Famous Duo
The season four episode “Cherokee Hair Tampons” was notable thanks to a pair of guest stars who can light it up. Counterculture comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong both lent their voices to the episode.
Chong admitted that he and Marin didn’t record their parts together, but did credit the show for reviving their partnership. Marin told UCTV “That was the first time we did something together in 20 years so yes, we can give South Park the credit.”
Trey Parker Applied The Show’s Visual Style To A Series Of Shorts
Parker’s father, Randy, passed on an inheritance for Buddhism to his son. Trey would go on to discover an interest for the philosophies of Zen writer and speaker Alan Watts. In 2007, Parker borrowed the construction paper aesthetic from his popular sitcom for a side project.
He came up with animated sequences accompanying short segments, including Watt’s take on music in the short “Life and Music.” Plus, he does personality extremes with “Prickles and Goo,” then the human race’s relationship with the planet in “Appling.”
An Insect Mutation Was Named After One Character
The running joke throughout the show’s first five seasons was Kenny McCormick suddenly dying in every episode. The unfortunate fate of the character won Kenny a huge honor. His name would be used for a mutation in the genetic structure of the adult fruit fly.
Scientist Sophie Rutschmann was the one who discovered it in 2002. The gene was found to predict imminent mortality upon contact with bacteria. This “certain death” mutation was nicknamed after the ill-fated character.
The Tourettes Syndrome Association Has Praised The Show’s Treatment Of The Disease
Parker and Stone did their homework when it came to tackling the topic of tourettes. The season 11 episode “Le Petit Tourette” earned significant praise from the Association.
The nonprofit organization was unsurprised by South Park‘s heavy focus on involuntary cursing—a symptom disproportionately associated with the disease in popular culture. However, it does go on record to say that they were impressed by the episode’s treatment of the condition, as well as its wealth of well-researched information.
Kenny Wasn’t Supposed To Die
Kenny died in every episode up until the fifth season. Things have changed as the character no long dies in each episode. However, during the fifth season, a big surprise happened. Kenny was permanently killed off in “Kenny Dies.”
But, the character makes a return for good in the season six finale “Red Sleigh Down.” The original idea to kill Kenny wasn’t the go-to plan. Instead, the plan was to kill off Kyle, then replace him with Butters instead.
Issac Hayes Didn’t Quit The Show
The season 10 episode “The Return of Chef” was all about how Chef had been manipulated into a club that changed him and took him away from his friends. Fans of the show might not know that plot mimicked what really happened. Many believed the Grammy winner departed from the show after becoming a Scientologist.
The 12th season episode “The China Problem” was the first episode after Hayes’ death, which was dedicated to him.
His Son Says Scientology Quit for Him
Hayes’ resignation came as a backlash to South Park‘s infamous 2005 episode “Trapped in the Closet.” The episode skewered the topic of Scientology throughout the episode. Isaac’s son told Billboard magazine how his father was very ill.
“What happened was that in January 2006 my dad had a stroke and lost the ability to speak. He really didn’t have that much comprehension, and he had to relearn to play the piano and a lot of different things.”
Kenny Is Based On Someone From Parker’s Past
Believe it or not, some of the characters are based on real people, including the character of Kenny. When Parker was in elementary school, he would go to the bus stop every day and would see his friend Kenny waiting there.
In an interview at the Paley Center, Parker described his friend as having a “little orange coat who would say things you couldn’t understand.” In real life, Kenny would always disappear randomly, adding to the running joke of the character dying every episode.
Butters Is Based On South Park’s Animation Leader
Eric Stough has been around since the beginning of the show. Not only did he assist Parker and Stone in the construction of the unaired pilot, but he’s known Parker since the two were kids.
In addition, the animation coordinator was the inspiration behind Leopold “Butters” Scotch. “Butters” was his nickname in real life, so it wasn’t just created since it sounds like butterscotch, but it’s part of the reason behind it. Eventually, Stough led a team of over eighty people and has Emmys to his name.
The Show Won The Peabody Award In 2005
The Peabody Award is meant to “honor the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media.” South Park has made a ton of profound statements over the years with its comical, witty, and entertaining nature. There’s a reason why the show was rewarded with the award.
“Constantly doing battles with critics, with those whose values it challenges or lampoons, and with its own network, this cartoon for adults continues to push the boundaries of what is meant by ‘freedom of speech.'”
Kenny Sings About His Admiration Of The Female Body
Since the first season, the theme song has been somewhat of a mystery. That only matters when it comes to Kenny, who can hardly be understood half the time. Throughout the show’s existence, Kenny sings in the theme about his admiration for the female body.
It’s no surprise that the ill-fated character is the first of the boys to be interested in girls, and he’s never been ashamed of it either.
Parker’s Ex-Girlfriend Inspired Two Roles
Parker was engaged to his high school sweetheart, Liane Adamo. Then, she left him for an a cappella singer. Interestingly enough, Wendy Testaburger is based on his ex-girlfriend. It’s evident since Stan and Wendy’s relationship is based on Parker’s experience with Adamo.
But, a rumor came out about Adamo cheating on the co-creator, which is how Liane Cartman became an inspiration. It’s safe to assume that Parker named Cartman’s mom Liane because of his former fiancée.
Mr. Hankey Was Based On Someone From Parker’s Past
South Park’s last holiday episode was the season eighteen episode “#HappyHolograms.” Scheduling issues are the reason why the show hasn’t filmed any Christmas episodes in a while.
Some of the episodes involved Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. Kyle refers to him when it’s Christmas time since he’s Jewish. Surprisingly, the character is apart of Parker’s past. He had the habit of not flushing the toilet as a kid. Because of this, Trey’s dad told him that if he didn’t flush the toilet, Mr. Hankey would come out and eat him.
The One Character They Love To Play The Most
When it comes to the most opinionated, foul-mouthed kid in South Park, it’s no surprise that Trey and Matt find Cartman the most fun character to play. Not only does he allow them to pretty much say whatever they want, but they don’t even bother writing much of a script for him.
It turns out that many of Cartman’s lines are actually ad-libbed by Trey, which really captures just how off-the-cuff the character really is.