Edit: We're re-running this today in celebration of the 16th anniversary (to the day) of 'South Park's' first airing. If you haven't read it before, check it out!
The Sports On TV column returns with one of the most requested shows ever: Trey Parker and Matt Stone's 16-season strong cultural landmark, 'South Park'.
'South Park' has been around since 1997, and has changed along with the times. When it started, Parker and Stone were getting $1,200 to make video Christmas cards for Fox executives. In 2012, they are influential, Tony Award-winning, multi-millionaire media moguls. One thing hasn't changed: in season one, Kenny was getting ripped apart by football players. In season 16, Tom Brady is guzzling a Gatorade bottle of a child's semen. Sports are one of the weirdest, stupidest, most ritualistic and overly-glorififed things human beings can do, and 'South Park' has been in tune with that since the very beginning.
So, here are my choices for the 20 greatest South Park sports moments. Like a lot of the shows we do, there are a ton of moments we had to leave out, so a part 2 will probably happen. If we left out your favorite moment, or you have something to say about a moment we chose, be sure to drop down into our comments section and let us know.
More Sports On TV: Saved By The Bell (part 2) | Full House | King Of The Hill | The Wire | The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air | Parks And Recreation | Married... With Children | 30 Rock | The Brady Bunch | The Three Stooges | The Simpsons | Glee | Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers | Boy Meets World | Buffy The Vampire Slayer | It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia | Arthur | Community | Arrested Development | Freaks and Geeks | Archer | Family Matters | Adventure Time | The Munsters | The Wonder Years
Episode: "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" (season 1, episode 4)
What Happens: Ned and Uncle Jimbo show up to South Park Elementary School to pressure football coach Chef about beating the spread in the upcoming Homecoming game between the South Park Cows and Middle Park. Unfortunately for Chef, star quarterback Stan Marsh is nowhere to be found at Homecoming, because he's wandered into a Big Gay Animal Sanctuary in the forest to find the dog he berated for being homosexual. Keep in mind that this is four episodes into the run of the show. Stan learns an important lesson about acceptance and returns in time to throw a touchdown pass to Kyle and beat the spread, but not before Jimbo and Ned have taken matters into their own hands with an exploding mascot reliant on the note-hitting abilities of John Stamos' brother. Fun fact: It is pretty hard to succinctly recap 'South Park' episodes.
Key line: "Football is like making love to a really beautiful woman: you can't always score, but when you do it makes all the trying worthwhile."
After 16 seasons, "Oh my God, they killed Kenny/You bastards!" seems like a lost relic from somebody else's show. It's not even a joke anymore. I used to look forward to see how Kenny was going to be killed and laugh about it with my friends. Why did I do that? I think killing Kenny off for good, bringing him back and then just nonchalantly killing him whenever they want was the best decision 'South Park' ever made. That, and the taco that poops ice cream.
As ridiculous as it sounds, "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" was one of the first times my backwards, Virginia-raised ass considered that gay people were just people with a different sexual preference and still totally normal people, and not just randomly existing things for me to hate. It feels weird admitting that the least professional, least mature show of its era was the thing that made me go "hey wait a minute, they're right," but it hit right as I was starting to actually grow up (and not just get older). This list is full of Chinese kids throwing dodgeballs and Tom Brady eating cum or whatever so I won't get wistful and super cereal about it, but thanks for being dumb enough to make me realize I should stop being a dummy, 'South Park'.
Episode: "Conjoined Fetus Lady" (season 2, episode 5)
What Happens: In an episode that is mostly about the school nurse having a dead fetus attached to her face, Chef and the boys discover that British exchange student Pip becomes an enraged, hyper-violent dodgeball master when he's called "French". The South Park Cows squad rides that violence to the Colorado State Championships, where they upset Denver and earn a trip to Nationals. Their Nationals opponent bails, however, because they don't want to face the international champion, China. South Park heads to China, where two Chinese announcers call back jokes from "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" and watch in amazement as the Chinese kids are tricked into calling Pip "Frenchie" and get obliterated.
Key line: "Oh, and another American is down! It's number, uh oh, I don't know; all Americans look alike!"
'South Park' has always had a knack for portraying Asian characters are the most stereotypical people ever, but doing it with love, so you end up laughing along instead of being offended. Whether it's the City Wok guy building a wall to keep out Mongolians or the businessmen trying to sell Chinpokomon by complimenting American penises, Asian characters in the 'South Park' world have thick accents and slanty eyes and all the things that make you want to throw a shoe at the screen whenever Breakfast At Tiffany's is on, but they're usually there to make you laugh with the things they say or do, and not because of how stereotypical they are. It's hard to explain, but a Chinese sports announcer impersonating an American by saying "hey, I really really want that" is amazing.
And I can't say for certain, but I like to think Trey Parker and Matt Stone are huge fans of the greatest dodgeball-related thing ever made, the classic NES game Super Dodge Ball, and based the Chinese dodgeball arena after the one in the game:
(Guest contributor Josh Kurp)
Episode: “The Losing Edge” (season 9, episode 5)
What Happens: Kyle & Co., along with a bunch of other boys from school, including Token and Butters, are all members of the South Park Cows Little League team, despite wishing they could be doing literally anything else. They’re bored by baseball, and only participate because their parents make them. After accidentally making the playoffs, the boys begin to lose on purpose, except that every other team they face has the same idea. They’re bad, but they’re not the worst, so they bring in Kyle’s extremely Jewish cousin, Kyle Schwartz, as a “totally sucks ass” ringer. But even he succeeds, in the form of a pathetic bunt that the Cows rivals from Denver don’t bother trying to field. Finally, though, Stan figures out a way to get his team disqualified: by encouraging his dad, Randy, to fight Denver’s biggest fan, Bat Dad. He truly is the greatest.
Key line: “How does it feel to be in the Colorado Little League finals?” “...Gay.”
What a classic episode. Some of the most popular South Park references originate from “The Losing Edge,” including Randy’s OH I’M SORRY I THOUGHT THIS WAS AMERICA drunken brawls, the return of Cousin Kyle ("Oh Jesus, that flight was terrible. They served a chicken dish with hot sauce and it gave me gas”), and, of course, the epic, triumphant majesty of Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best.”
As great as the high concept South Park episodes are, it’s always a treat when Parker and Stone do something small, too, like having a bunch of kids complain about having to play baseball, which, they’re right, is kind of awful. It’s a whole lotta nothing, especially if you’re a dumpy right fielder, who was clearly placed there because of the lack of lefthanders playing Little League and no one will ever pull the ball and you suck, and even though you want to prove to everyone that you’re a HIDDEN SUPERSTAR, or “the best around,” you’re also dreading the moment that a ball actually does come your way. “The Losing Edge” got it right: instead of playing to win, you should always succeed to lose, so that you can go back inside and play Madden 2013 on Xbox 360. While listening to the Karate Kid soundtrack. AMERICA.
Episode: "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina" (season 9, episode 1)
What Happens: Mr. Garrison feels like a woman inside a man's body, so he gets a vaginoplasty. That inspires Kyle to seek a similar procedure that will help him be the tall, black, and good-at-basketball person he feels he is on the inside: a negroplasty. Garrison loves being a woman until he realizes he can't get pregnant (or have a period) (or an abortion) and demands the doctor reverse the procedure, but it's too late -- the doctor used Garrison's balls in Kyle's kneecaps to make him taller, and used Garrison's scrotum to fashion a dorsal fin for Kyle's dad, who underwent a 'dolphinoplasty' to become a half-Jew, half-Dolphin. A Jewphin. Eventually Kyle's testicle kneecaps explode when he dunks during an all-state basketball game, and ... Jesus, what the f**k is up with this episode?
Key line: "But all my life I felt I was black. I listen to hip-hop, I watch UPN, and I love playing basketball."
"Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina" isn't one of the best 'South Park' episodes, but it is the most basketball-heavy, and the image of Gerald Broflovski is one of their best ever. The poor guy just wants to know where the dolphin bathrooms are.
Episodes like this make me wonder how they'd do it differently if they were making it in 2012. The episode is pretty transphobic, and you keep expecting there to be a resolution (or at least some sort of tacked on message) about how people who feel different on the inside than the look on the outside should be allowed the right to be what they want to be, but that dumb motherf**kers like Garrison and Gerald Broflovski don't know what they're doing or talking about. But nope, everyone just realizes that being transgendered is stupid, and Garrison is forced to accept her womanhood, at least until science evolves and learns how to grow a human penis on a mouse.
So that sucks a lot, but exploding testicle knees are pretty funny.
Episode: "Up The Down Steroid" (season 8, episode 2)
What Happens: Cartman (how have I done a 'South Park' list and not talked extensively about Cartman yet?) finds out that he can win $1,000 if he pretends to be handicapped and enters the Special Olympics. It turns out to be a pretty terrible plan, because even though his brain works, his body is shaped like a muffin. Meanwhile, legitimately-handicapped Jimmy Valmer starts doing steroids to get an edge on the other Special Olympians, sending him into a After School Special downward spiral of rage, domestic abuse and having to give anti-drug speeches alongside Jason Giambi.
Key line: "Timmy, Timmy, Jimmy, erra Timmy, Timmy!" "Don't lecture me on the complexities of sportsmanship!"
Jimmy's further thoughts on steroid abuse:
"I know now, that even if you do win on steroids, you're really not winners. You're just a p-pussy; you're just a big fat p-p-pussy. And if you take steroids, the only decent thing to do is come forward and say, 'Remove me from the record books, because I am a big, stinky p-pussy, steroid taking jackass."
I'm surprised Barry Bonds played by himself in San Francisco for 15 years and Major League Baseball never made one of those Giants-esque "BONDS" jerseys.
Johnny Knoxville more or less remade this episode a year later as The Ringer. My friend Danielle LOVES that movie, but until it features a joke about researching mental disabilities by watching Kid Rock videos, "Up The Down Steroid" will remain superior.
Episode: "W.T.F." (season 13, episode 10)
What Happens: The boys attend an episode of WWE Raw in Denver (featuring a "John Cena slept with my girlfriend" story that is still hilariously up-to-date) and decide they want to become wrestlers. They sign up for wrestling class at school, and are non-plussed when their teacher explains the differences between "that WWE crap" and REAL WRASSLIN, which is mostly wearing long underwear and grabbing each others' butts. The boys start a pro wrestling promotion called W.T.F. -- Wrestling Takedown Federation -- and begin drawing huge crowds of rednecks with their stories of international infidelities, service in Vietnam, and who "Bad Irene" (Cartman in a wig) does or doesn't love. The school wrestling coach loses his job and gets madder and madder about WTF until he fails to kill them with a bazooka, delivers a monologue about how he's lost everything in life and accidentally earns a main-event spot in WWE from chairman Vince McMahon himself.
Key line: "This is just a bunch of garbage! And you are all ruining the good name of wrassling! Wrassling is from ancient Greece! It's in the Olympics!" "What the hell do you care?! Get off the wrestlin' mat! Boo!"
This guy's sign still makes me laugh out loud:
I want to make sure that if you're a wrestling fan and you've seen this episode, you read a review by TV.com user JohnWeston. It is quite possibly the most wrestling fan thing of all-time.
I'm a huge wrestling fan so when I heard South Park was doing an episode based on wrestling I was excited. Now I understand South Park takes shots at everyone and pulls no punches. BUT They went the opposite they should have. They were at least fair to wrestling fans and didn't make them out to be hicks or anything (though some were and the fat chick at the WWE event was VERY true I've seen at least 3 myself) But making the whole thing out to be a play was just an insult to my intelligence. Besides they could have made an episode about the insane super violent backyard wrestling. Instead we got a poorly written intellgence insulting episode that is one of south park's weakest (REALLY... they couldn't have at least put an effort in to make Vince McMahon sound constipated? Jokes like that more or less write themselves) and Cartman the wrestling booker..makes Vince Russo look like Paul Heymen. I really wanted to love this episode but as a wrestling fan it insulted my intelligence and felt they could have gone several ways they didn't.
"I wanted to like this, but I didn't, because it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Here are wrestling terms or people I know!" The only thing that would've made this review better is if he'd given it a star rating.
Episode: "Poor and Stupid" (season 14, episode 8)
What Happens: Cartman becomes as poor and stupid as possible to live his dream of being a NASCAR driver. The following plan is enacted: eat Vagisil to cause short-term memory loss, lure a driver a way from his car on race day and let Cartman drive in his place. It works, but Cartman causes a wreck and puts him in the hospital ... an act so stupid that it draws national attention and brings the founder of Vagisil to South Park to offer Eric a spot in the driver's seat of the number 5 Vagisil car. That's officially the most times I've typed "vagisil" in one paragraph.
Key line: " I really think I can hold my own against these guys. Little worried about that Jimmie Johnson guy though; he seems dumber than spit. And that Danica Patrick chick? Phew! We're gonna need to get even poorer and stupider, Butters. Both of us."
This is the spiritual successor to the pro wrestling episode, as one guy (in this case, Cartman ... in W.T.F., the wrestling coach) decides that everybody who loves or participates in a redneck-friendly sport is a derpy yokel, despite the fact that everyone involved has it pretty together. Dale Earnhart Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth all show up as normal people, and Cartman's the only one making racist, ranting podcasts about how Obama is "f**kin' gay". NASCAR even has a supporter in the episode in the form of Kenny, who is both poor and stupid, but sticks up for the sport and somehow manages to not die despite riding a stock car and causing multiple accidents.
I mean, most of the drivers die in some horrible way (Danica Patrick gets run over by the Vagisil car and called a f**kin' gay bitch), but it's still a win, right?
Episode: "Crack Baby Athletic Association" (season 15, episode 5)
What Happens: A Sarah McLachlan commercial guilts Kyle into helping crack babies, but when he goes to the hospital to volunteer, he finds that Cartman and some of the others are already there. They've organized the Crack Baby Athletic Association, a league that broadcasts video of babies fighting over balls of crack on YouTube. The group wants to cut a deal with EA Sports to make a CBAA video game, and Cartman (as an old-timey Confederate plantation owner) visits universities to find out how non-profit organizations get away with selling likeness rights for big profits without feeding any of that money back into the people actually earning it. EA swindles them in the deal, stealing ALL of the rights to the CBAA.
Key line: "You have some might strong-lookin' workers heah, sahr. I'd be willin' to offer you forty dollars for two of the white ones and fifty for the blacks." "Are you refering to our student athletes?" "Student atholetes. Hoho, that is brilliant sahr. Now, when we sell their likeness for video games, how do we get around payin' for our slaves uh- 'student atheletes' then?"
This isn't the most subtle thing they've ever done (at one point they're just going NCAA ATHLETES ARE EXACTLY LIKE SLAVES, RIGHT, GET IT over and over), but there is a pretty wonderful B-story about Slash being a magical, wish-granting man who can be everywhere at once and clandestinely build orphanages.
Also, this happens:
Episode: "Sarcastaball" (season 16, episode 8)
What Happens: Randy won't stop being sarcastic about South Park Elementary's new "no kickoffs" rule for football games and inadvertently creates 'Sarcastaball,' a sport where players wear bras and tinfoil hats, use a balloon instead of a ball and compliment and hug each other instead of tackling. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thinks Sarcastaball is a great idea, just f**king fantastic, and transformers the NFL into a Sarcastaball league, appointing Randy as the Broncos' new head coach. He does a great job, beating the Steelers 3-0 thanks to the referees having no idea how the game is played (cough), but finds out that excessive sarcasm is causing concussion-like symptoms in his brain. He tries to stop Stan from playing, but is reassured by the innocent sincerity of the kids, and not so much by the energy drink they've been taking to remain cheery and happy, which is ... uh, Butters' cum.
Key line: "F**k it, it's a f**kin' field goal!"
When the episode first aired, our sister site Kissing Suzy Kolber described it as, "the cleanest depiction yet of Tom Brady drinking a child's ejaculate". That remains true, although his UGG For Men commercial came pretty close to topping it.
Other highlights include old concussed players returning with their pants around their ankles pretending to bake an invisible loaf of bread, the Denver Whoop-de-f**king-do Girls (who aren't much different from the actual Broncos cheerleaders) and Cee Lo Green singing the Sarcastaball anthem.
"I'm a big fan of all your hit song!"
Episode: "Stanley's Cup" (season 10, episode 14)
What Happens: In one of my very favorite episodes of 'South Park' ever, Stan becomes the coach of a Park County Pee-Wee hockey team and tries to turn them into winners to keep Nelson, a teammate dying of cancer, alive. The team sucks and ties another sucky Pee-Wee team, causing Nelson's cancer to become "tied". Stan gets a second chance when the team is invited to play during the intermission at a pro game between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings, and when their opponent no-shows, the Avalanche let Stan's Pee-Wee team sub for them in the 3rd period against Detroit. A 2-2 tie ends up 32-2, the Red Wings brutally beat the shit out of a bunch of 4 year olds and the episode ends with Nelson DYING OF CANCER while Red Wings' coach Mike Babcock celebrates with a trophy and 'We Are The Champions' plays.
Key line: "Remember Stan, win or lose ... Those are your two options win, or lose."
Fun fact: A lot of people HAAAATE "Stanley's Cup". I think it's brilliant. It's an underdog sports movie that ends up intersecting with somebody else's underdog sports movie, and one movie involves kindergartners who are terrible at hockey so the other one wins. There are a lot of people who say they love "dark comedy" and bail when the comedy actually gets dark ... it doesn't get much darker than a kid's performance as a Pee-Wee Hockey coach causes a cancer patient to die, and another half-dozen kids to get repeatedly punched in the face by grown-ups. And then the grown-ups CHEER OVER THEIR BROKEN BODIES.
One thing you have to love about the episode is the B story, wherein Randy Marsh obsesses over a tied Pee-Wee game from years ago where Stan took a shot and didn't hit it hard enough, ending the game in a tie. He has nightmares and runs around screaming in his underwear about it, and all Stan can remember is that the team got taken out for pizza when it was over. Randy plus sports equals five stars.
(Guest contributor Ashley Burns)
Episode: “Guitar Queer-O” (season 11, episode 13)
What Happens: The biggest thing that jumped out at me when I first watched this episode 5 years ago was the Kids in the Hall Brain Candy reference when Stan and Kyle attend the big celebrity party, because that movie is wildly underrated and people should always celebrate Cancer Boy and flipper babies whenever they can. After that, it was the Jay Cutler joke, because that sort of marked the beginning of my love affair with the NFL’s most “Whatever, bro” passer.
Outside of SEC writers and Vanderbilt fans, nobody really knew about Jay Cutler the person when the Denver Broncos drafted him. We just knew that he was a guy who made the Commodores relevant for a few years with some great passing statistics. But for a lot of NFL fans, I think it’s fair to say that South Park put the man that Pauly and I would eventually dub J-Cutty on the radar.
But this is really all about one line that prophetically summed up Cutler’s entire career to date.
Key line: "You kind of suck, but my dad says you might be good some day."
Trey Parker and Matt Stone absolutely nailed that. It’s also worth noting that because he comes off as so smug and indifferent, people don’t think that Cutler has a sense of humor, but he originally told ESPN that he thought this parody was great. Just like he told me that Not Jay Cutler is great. In summary, me + Jay Cutler = BFF.
Episode: "Pinewood Derby" (season 13, episode 6)
What Happens: Speaking of Randy Marsh and sports, here's an episode about Randy using a superconducting magnet stolen from the Large Hadron Collider to help Stan win a Pinewood Derby race, and the car going so fast it reaches warp speed, travels through space and makes contact with an alien race. When Randy is asked to recreate the incident using only the approved pinewood derby kit, he panics, setting off a chain of events that include stealing a space robber's space cash, dropping nuclear bombs on Finland and failing an intergalactic community worthiness test that causes Earth to be permanently isolated from the rest of the universe.
Key line: "Well, that sucks."
I was never in the Boy Scouts (Cub Scouts, whatever), but I tried to make a Pinewood Derby in shop class in 7th grade. All the kids who smoked cigarettes and lived in trailer parks were ON IT, making these sleek, epic cars, and I just haphazardly attached some wheels to a block of wood that kinda looked like a train whistle. It was the worst. I was also spectacularly bad at building popsicle stick bridges for those weight-bearing contests. To my credit, the Large Hadron Collider wasn't a thing in the 1990s and those bad-side-of-the-tracks kids were definitely probably all Swiss.
Episode: "Here Comes The Neighborhood" (season 5, episode 12)
What Happens: Token is sad about being the only rich kid in town, so he arranges for other rich people (who happen to be black) to move into town. Among them: Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith (and Jaden and Willow Smith, who speak and act like Pip), Snoop Dog and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. The poor (and coincidentally white) citizens of 'South Park' don't take kindly to the "richers," and dress up as Scary Ghosts to burn lowercase Ts in their front yard.
Key line: "T? T-time to leave?" "T is for time to leave, cash chucker!"
Kobe Bryant instantly figuring out what a burning T in his front yard means like he's 1960s Batman is funny enough, but Garrison's immediate, word-for-word confirmation is spectacular. Also spectacular: the fact that 'South Park' does an entire episode about racism set in a world without racism, then gets SUPER RACIST at the end. And it works. That's probably Trey Parker's biggest talent, besides writing asinine showtunes: taking something that absolutely should not work and hitting the only tone in the world where it does.
I also kinda miss the good old days when 'South Park' celebrities were just cutouts of pictures. This episode happened 11 seasons ago (Jesus) and is one of the first I can remember where everyone's just drawn like a South Park character. Should I want them to try harder and do what nobody else can do, or try less and succeed by the virtue of being weird as hell?
Either way, the idea of Kobe Bryant relaxing at home by reading a book in his living room while wearing warmups is pretty goddamn funny.
(Guest contributor David D.)
Episode: "Tonsil Trouble" (season 12, episode 1)
What Happens: Cartman goes in to get his tonsils taken out and, in true South Park form, he ends up with the HIV virus. Does it make sense? Does it matter? Pure AIDSLULZ chicanery ensues as Cartman gets a crappy benefit dinner performance from the always awful singer/owner of one of the top 43 hamburger chains in Statesville, North Carolina Jimmy Buffett, infects Kyle with the virus and effectively finds a cure. What's the cure for AIDS? Shooting your blood with tons and tons of money. That's just stupid. If that were the case then only rich people would be able to ---- hhhhuzzzaawaitaminute I think they were making a point!
Key line: "Nobody likes Jimmy Buffett, except for frat boys and alcoholic fat chicks from the south!"
The actual sports comes in when the boys visit Magic Johnson to find out how he survived having HIV for 20 years. When he reveals that him sleeping with all of his money gets the job done, the code is cracked. Unless I slept on something, the show missed a golden opportunity to make fun of Magic's speech impediment (see: butchering the English language). And no Magic Show jabs? Or any mention of how the fact there's no justice in me turning on my TV and seeing an HIV-infected Magic Johnson sitting next to a perfectly f**king healthy AIDS-less Michael Wilbon? No? Nothing?
(Ed. note -- Magic Johnson joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Sports On TV Hall Of Fame for showing up both here and on The Simpsons, whether he voiced himself or not. He also showed up on the door in Zack Morris' room on 'Saved By The Bell,' which I'll totally count as a sports moment when I do Sports On TV: Saved By The Bell part 2 and can't come up with 20 moments.)
Episode: "Sexual Healing" (season 14, episode 1)
What Happens: In an episode that looks to find out why the world's most famous, successful men suddenly want to have sex with a bunch of women, 'South Park' lampoons the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game franchise by turning into a Heavy Rain-style thing where your wife attacks you with a golf club for sleeping with strippers and you have to hit X to lie to the cops.
Key line: "Yeah, golf is stupid again."
Like most things that happen on the show, sex addiction becomes an irrational fear that overwhelms everything in everyone's life, and Kyle and "Bummers" end up in a sex addicts rehabilitation class alongside Kobe Bryant, Ben Roethlisberger and the funny, old man spokesperson version of Michael Jordan. The big lesson of the class: don't get caught. Or, as the cross-eyed South Park Big Ben says, "don't screw girls in da public bathrooms".
Cartman and Stan learn an important lesson: that no matter how fun the new version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour is (finding another woman's number in your cell phone in a water level!), it's just like the real Tiger Woods sex scandal, and when it's over, it's just about a dude playing golf. Who wants to hit a dumb little ball around, anyway?
Episode: "Eek, a Penis!" (season 12, episode 5)
What Happens: Mrs. Garrison is torn between the reality of being a man in a woman's body (yet unable to reverse the sex change operation because his testicles were exploded in Kyle's Negroplasty kneecaps), goes into a fit of rage and is removed by Principal Victoria. Cartman is appointed as a temporary teacher and finds great success by just giving students the answers, leading to high test scores. This gets him a job teaching at an inner city school, where he must pose as dedicated, Hispanic teacher Mr. Cartmenez and teach urban youths the secret to a happy life: Do what white people do and cheat. If you're successful enough, nobody will care.
Key line: "No no. If you cheat and fail, you're a cheater. If you cheat and succeed, you're savvy."
Of course, Cartman's big example of the White People Method is New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who was caught cheating in the Spygate scandal to the least amount of scandal and outrage imaginable. Some of the kids think cheating their way through life won't work, so Eric points out the one time Belichick decided NOT to cheat and win a football game the "right way": Super Bowl XLII. The kids cheat, get perfect scores, and present Mr. Cartmenez with a plaque for teaching them how to succeed. Because life.
Don't have sex with anybody without approval from everybody else in the world, though, that'll get you fired and exiled in a heartbeat. America, everybody.
Episode: "Wing" (season 9, episode 3)
What Happens: Wing is a "New Zealand singer of Hong Kong origin" who sings out-of-tune ABBA songs in a high-pitched voice. Trey Parker and/or Matt Stone loved her enough to make her the focus of an entire 'South Park' episode, and at one point in it she boxes as a competitor on Sylvester Stallone's reality show, 'The Contender'. Remember 'The Contender?' Yeah, me neither.
Key line: "This just goes to show that hard work doesn't pay off. I'm going to be a homeless drug addict from now on!"
Here's the plot of the episode, as best I can describe it: Token sings like Lou Rawls, so the boys start the "Super Awesome Talent Agency" to cash in on his talent. They lose him to an actual agency, but recover when they agree to take on WING, the wife of the City Wok guy, and get her to an 'American Idol' audition in California on behalf of the Chinese Mafia. They end up getting her beaten up in front of Stallone, who agrees to let her sing at his son's wedding. But Wing gets kidnapped by the mafia, the boys mistake the mafia for the talent agency that stole Token, a shoot-out goes down and talent agencies are pretty directly compared to Chinese slave traders. Hooray for everyone!
Wing's official website is still up and running and she's still going strong, in case you were wondering. The best part is her About page, which talks about the episode and includes the sentence, "Sylvester Stallone was her co-star for this episode," as if that is not totally just Trey Parker doing the assiest Sylvester Stallone impression.
(Guest contributor Josh Kurp)
Episode: “Cartman's Mom Is A Dirty Slut” (season 1, episode 13)
What Happens: Like the episode title says, Cartman’s mom is a dirty slut (or “Doe Who Cannot Keep Legs Together,” in Native American terms), and doesn’t quite know who got her knocked up. She thinks it’s Chief Running Water and she knows it happened at the 12th Annual Drunken Barn Dance, but the Chief informs Cartman that his mom is incorrect, that she in fact “got with” Chef that night. Except Chef says it was actually Mr. Garrison, or maybe Mephesto, or maybe Officer Barbrady, or maybe the 1989 and/or 1991 Denver Broncos? The answer: not Dan Reeves.
Key line: “Hey, everybody, look who's here! The AFC Champion Denver Broncos!”
Aw, the Denver Broncos...they suck! Oh wait, wrong show. There’s no particular reason why Parker, Stone, and David Goodman included the Broncos in “Cartman’s Mom Is a Dirty Slut,” other than the idea of 53 men, including John Elway, Bobby Humphrey, and Steve Atwater, having their way with Liane tickled their funny bone(r)s. You know what else they found funny? Setting “Cartman’s Mom” up as the first part of a two-part season finale cliffhanger, only to come back four months later and begin season two with the brilliant “Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus.” At the time, people were NOT happy (they were wrong); Comedy Central received in excess of 2,000 emails from angry fans that felt they had been duped, which in 2012 terms is like 45 billion tweets.
Parker and Stone returned to the parental storyline in the next episode, though, with “Cartman's Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut,” in which Mephesto reveals Cartman’s father is...his mother. She’s a hermaphrodite, and therefore has both male and female genitalia, but because hermaphrodites cannot have children, that means Liane is actually Cartman’s father, but NOT his mother. It would be 12 years before South Park would return to this plot in season 14’s “200” and “201,” when — and please try to keep up here — Mitch Conner, a.k.a. Jennifer Lopez, a.k.a. Cartman’s left hand, reveals that Cartman’s REAL father is Jack Tenorman, a.k.a. Scott Tenorman’s dad, a.k.a. the ginger who Cartman fed his half-brother to in a bowl of a chili, who was also a member of the Broncos. In short: John Elway and Liane Cartman would have made a hideous baby together.
Episode: "The Ungroundable" (season 12, episode 14)
What Happens: South Park Elementary's goth kids get upset when the soccer team refers to them as "vampires". They aren't vampires, they're FREAKING GOTHS! They try to escape the Twilight craze and be non-conformist conformists by dressing in GAP clothes. The next time the soccer ball rolls over to them, the simple "it's over there by those vampire kids" is replaced with, "it's over there by that fat girl, the big-nosed kid, the midget, and the kid with pock marks on his face".
Key line: "WHAT KEEPS A FAMILY TOGETHER, BUTTERS?" "A well-organized pantry..." "THAT'S RIGHT!"
This moment is barely about soccer, but I didn't want to write a 'South Park' list of any kind without including the Goth Kids, who are among the best characters on the show. The entire episode is great, from the "Trey Parker actually knows what goth music is supposed to sound like" 'Burn Down Hot Topic' number to this episode's closing speech, which looks to put an end to goth/vampire discrepancies once and for all:
"Fellow students. Over the past week there's been a lot of confusion, and so we have asked for this assembly to clarify the difference between Goth kids and Vampire kids. Let us make it abundantly clear: if you hate life, truly hate the sun, and need to smoke and drink coffee, you are Goth. If, however, you like dressing in black 'cause it's "fun," enjoy putting sparkles on your cheeks and following the occult while avoiding things that are bad for your health, then you are most likely a douchebag vampire wannabe boner. Because anybody who thinks they are actually a vampire is freaking retarded."
"F**k all of you."
(Guest contributor Ashley Burns)
Episode: “Asspen” (season 6, episode 2)
What Happens: First of all, realizing that this episode was in Season 6 makes me feel almost as old as when I realized that I’ve been watching South Park since I was a freshman in college. But then, that doesn’t surprise me at all with this show, because it has never once made me say, “Time to wrap it up.” Anywho, about this episode…
“Asspen” originally aired in 2002, but the episode was so strange and hilarious that it led to an Internet meme that is still popularly used today. While the entire gang ends up in the ski resort city thanks to their parents falling for a time share scam, the episode is a brilliant send-up of 80s ski movies like Better Off Dead and Ski School, in which high schoolers who looked 30 resolved their rivalries by skiing on impossible and deadly mountain courses.
Key line: “The K-13? You don't want to go down that run. That run has got a history. 35 people have died goin' down it, and some say you can still see their ghosts up there. It was on that very ski run that a group of students were killed by a wolfboy who escaped from a mental institution. You see, that ski run was once a burial ground to a tribe of vampire Wichicaw Indians who ate the flesh of children with no eyes. Yah, a lot of history on that ski run.”
Honestly, I could probably write a book that tries to explain why this is the quintessential South Park episode because it gave us classic phrases like “the Shitler” and “You’re gonna have a bad time” while destroying a genre that never made sense and culminating in a scene that defined the show’s absurdity (the nerdy girl flashing her tits, but it’s really Kuato from Total Recall), but my effort would collapse into a circular argument involving 100 episodes. Seriously, I love this damn show.
Also, this episode gave us the “Montage” song and it is legendary.