Published on September 9th, 2016 | by Lauren Bycroft0
The 10 Most Underrated South Park Episodes
South Park’s Underrated Episodes – Part I
It’s hard to believe that we’re on the verge of South Park’s 20th season. Looking back on the earliest seasons it’s easy to forget about even some of the breakout or most talked about episodes like Starvin Marvin or Season 5’s It Hits the Fan in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone convinced standards and practices to let them use the word shit uncensored over 100 times. Feeling nostalgic about one of my favorite shows of all time I decided to go back to the beginning and highlight some of the most underrated episodes from South Park’s storied run.
Season 1: Pinkeye
Season 1’s Pinkeye is an episode that establishes the warped/surreal world of South Park early in the show’s run. It’s Halloween, and after Kenny is crushed to death by a spaceship, and his embalming fluid accidentally mixed with Worstershire sauce, he becomes the living dead. The town doctor identifies this growing epidemic as pinkeye because, of course. It’s a simple episode based around complete absurdity and it’s a very entertaining Halloween adventure as a result.
Season 2: Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus
I may be one of the few champions of this episode that landed Matt Stone and Trey Parker in hot water with their fans after they ended season 1 with the cliffhanger of who Cartman’s father was. They returned on April Fool’s Day with the first episode of season 2 which was a full Terrance and Phillip story that had nothing to do Cartman. The episode itself, if you take the time to watch it all these years later, is actually a pretty funny Canadian, fart-filled adventure. Beyond that I just love that South Park devoted an entire episode to pranking their fans.
Season 3: Cat Orgy/Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub/Jewbilee
I love when South Park does something interesting with their storytelling and these three episodes that all follow different characters on the night of meteor shower is a fantastic example of that. Cat Orgy follows Cartman who’s stuck being babysat by Stan’s sister Shelly while his mom is at the meteor shower party of Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub where Stan is stuck with the loser “melvin” kids from his school. Jewbilee follows Kyle and Kenny at Kyle’s Jew Scout camp celebrating the return of Moses at Jewbilee. These shows offer some different character interactions and dynamics than usual and a more than a few hilarious through lines and moments. Cartman’s adventure involves multiple references to Wild Wild West and Jewbilee introduces the idea that Moses is obsessed with camp crafts like macaroni pictures. There’s a lot to love in this trilogy.
Season 4: Cartman Joins NAMBLA
In a classic South Park misunderstanding Cartman in his search for more mature friends heads to a Men Seeking Young Boys chat room. After hearing about NAMBLA (the North American Marlon Brando Look Alikes) he unwittingly ends up roping all the boys in town into joining the more notorious NAMBLA, getting them paired off with mature partners and very nearly molested. Come for the hilarious and very nearly criminal misunderstanding, stay for the French farce. Yes, that right, the episode ends with a literal French bedroom farce with multiple characters running in and out of doors in a long hallway. It’s almost as left field delightful as the hilariously impossible revelation about Kenny’s repeated deaths.
Season 5: Proper Condom Use
This is one of those episodes that just takes a societal issue and exposes it in all its uncomfortable glory. The episode looks at sex ex and the reticence of parents to teach their children about sex because it’s an awkward talk to have. They insist the school teach their children and the boys find themselves in the inept virgin hands of Mr. Mackey and the girls are at the mercy of the fear-mongering virgin Miss Chokesondick. Meanwhile, the kindergarteners might be getting the most education of all with Mr. Garrison and his endless stream of hilarious sex positions. Misinformation abounds of course and it all culminates in a Mad Max standoff. It’s an episode that full of truth, absurdity, and brilliant comedy, so basically it’s a fine example of South Park at its best.
Season 6: The Biggest Douche in the Universe
Season 6 is stacked with some amazing episodes like The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer, Professor Chaos, A Ladder to Heaven, and The Return of the Lord of the Rings to the Two Towers. It’s tough to choose but The Biggest Douche in the Universe is hands down one of my favorite episodes of all time. After Kenny’s “permanent” death at the end of season 5, his ashes are accidentally drunk by Cartman. Kenny takes up residence in Cartman’s body and Chef takes him to see psychic John Edwards for help. The episode that follows is a scathing, meticulous take down of Edwards and other mediums that prey upon trusting people with tricks and cold reading techniques. The episode also features some great parodies of Rob Schneider trailers that never stop making me laugh and another memorable appearance by Chef’s parents. To this day when something goes awry I sometimes find myself saying, “Oh Lord, they didn’t bring a victim child”.
Season 7: Raisins
Raisins is an incredible send up of Hooters in which the titular restaurant is staffed by girls the boys’ age in short shorts and tank tops. The episode is based around Wendy’s breakup with Stan that sends him into a depression so deep he joins the Goth kids who make their first appearance. While Stan’s clichéd musings on heartbreak and transformation into Goth Raven are awesome, the episode is really a showcase for Butters who falls head over heels for a Raisins waitress until he realizes she’s using him for tips. It’s a really well balanced episode that never stops being funny and sadly prescient.
Season 8: Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes
A great animated parable about consumerism or an excellent excuse to find a way to make a building defecate, the people of South Park find themselves at the mercy of the Wall-Mart. When the super chain comes to town it quickly seduces the residents with its low prices and 3-packs of Time Cop. This is a great episode for showcasing some great Randy moments including some lovely butterfly stickers. In the end, Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes is a stellar example of how adept South Park is at honing some really cinematic episodes in twenty or so minutes with computer animated construction paper.
Season 9: The Losing Edge
In a show about four boys in a small Colorado town, sometimes the best character is one of their dads. Randy Marsh is one of the most reliably ridiculous and hilarious characters on television and this episode in particular, really brings the Randy. The boys find themselves in a baseball season that won’t end, unable to even throw playoff games because none of the other teams want to keep playing either. Randy being the dedicated dad he is attends every game without fail. The only problem is he’s more than overzealous. He’s constantly getting drunk, fitting other dads, getting arrested, and yelling “I thought this was ‘Merica!” It’s beautiful drunken poetry in motion. Only Randy Marsh’s great triumphant story would involve getting super drunk and taking on the equally insane Bat Dad to see which dad reigns supreme in the world of shirtless, beer fueled Little League fights.
Season 10: Tsst
This episode is particularly ingenious and oh so satisfying. When Cartman finally goes too far at school, his mother reaches her limit and turns to reality nannies for help changing her son’s behavior. When he thoroughly destroys Nanny 911 and Super Nanny psychologically, her last hope is The Dog Whisperer. After ten seasons of watching Cartman run wild – dressing like Hitler, tricking a kid into eating his parents, and almost getting all the boys in town molested – it really hits a sweet spot to see him put in his place and dominated by Caesar Milan. So many amazing moments. Of course Cartman being Cartman, it doesn’t last for long and the final moments of the episode are actually kind of heartbreaking, seeing Eric’s mom give in and undo all their progress.
Part II coming before South Park season 20’s September 14th premiere!