Please note that the following list is based on news about the episodes but also personal opinion. Explicit content is also included below.
South Park is not a children show in anyway but a show purely for adults, as it is rated TV-MA. The show enjoys walking the lines of what is acceptable jokes about religion, people, and taboo topics. I will admit South Park is one of my favorite shows as it also include a number of very serious issues that our world is faced with.
Some of the episodes aren't as controversial as others, but they are still a must watch from the South Park series. If you want to experience the extent to how much the line is walked by the creators watching any of these episodes below either will give you a good laugh or will make you hate the them.
Some of the episodes that have caused controversy include It Hits the Fan, With Apologies to Jesse Jackson, Bloody Mary, Cartoon Wars Part II (Episode #200 and #201), Trapped in the Closet, and Proper Condom Use. The episodes are ranked from least to most controversial (Numbered from 9 to 1) episodes from South Park.
Least Controversial (#5) : With Apologies to Jesse Jackson (S11 E1) and It Hits the Fan (S5 E1)
With Apologies to Jesse Jackson consists of Randy, Stan's Dad, saying the n-word on national television. Stan goes on to understand the effects of using a racial slur through his friend Token. While a dwarf attempts to teach Cartman to be more sensitive. Eventually, Randy apologizes to civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
This episode was criticized for its excessive use of the n-word. This episode brought about very little controversy as many black communities saw the episode as a comedic way to portray how some communities view the black community. The only controversy for the episode came from the PTC (Parents Television Council). This episode is the least controversial of all as it only got negative attention from the PTC, while the episode got praise from others.
It Hits the Fan was testing how much the word shit could be used in one episode. They did this by having a counter at the bottom of the screen count the number of times shit was said. Overall, shit was used 194 times including both spoken and depictions of the word. This episode received thousands of disapproving e-mails. This episode was put at number 8 because it didn't cause any harm and only got disapproving e-mails from concerned parents.
Both episodes have been considered causing the least controversy due to the lack of reaction from the world. The only reaction and disapproval for the episodes came from parents and other concerned members of community in order to protect their children.
#4: Trapped in the Closet (S9 E12)
Trapped in the Closet is an episode about scientology and some of it's members. I starts off by Stan taking a free personality test and getting results that he is extremely depressed. They would then offer to fix the problem for $240 to join scientology. After paying the fee and taking a number of tests, Stan is told that he is the reincarnation of the founder and prophet, L. Ron Hubbard. Throughout the episode, Stan is told what they believe in and is asked to continue to write the story. The story is seen as ridiculous and very extreme to be considered a religion. It depicts actors like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, while also depicting singer R. Kelly. The episode also pokes fun at Cruise's sexuality and at the end Stan says that scientology is a scam.
The episode got negative attention from members of scientology. The main controversy from this episode is the departure of Isaac Hayes,the voice of Chef. He was a member of the scientology church and with view differenced would end up living the show. When the episode was supposed to be showed on Comedy Central as a rerun it was replaced with an episode from Season 2. Comedy Central said that the episode wasn't aired in honor of Hayes's departure from the show. The only controversy is the fear of being sued by Tom Cruise due to the way his sexuality was being depicted.This is ranked at number 4 due to the lack of reaction from scientology but would be truly sad that Hayes had to leave the show so soon.
#3: Proper Condom Use (S5 E7)
The episode focuses on sexual content and teaching sexual education at school. The boys start doing red rocket, which is masturbating the dog until it ejaculates. Stan goes home and demonstrates the action to his parents during a book club at their house. This results in the parents asking the school to teach sexual education because Stan's parents were to embarrassed to talk to Stan. Through out the episode, the children are given false or misleading information about sex, pregnancy, and STDs. At the end, everyone comes to a conclusion on when sexual education is an appropriate topic of discussion and the children have a better understanding about sex.
This episode is ranked at number three for the extent of sexual content that is being showed. The show was trimmed and has some scenes removed for the extreme sexual content. Overall, the episode isn't very controversial but personal the sexual content is extreme compared to other episodes.
#2: Bloody Mary (S9 E14)
Bloody Mary is an episode when Stan's father gets pulled over for drunk driving and is forced to take Alcoholic anonymous for his drunk driving. While there he is told that alcoholism is a disease and can only be fixed by giving himself up to a higher power. During this time, a statue of the Virgin Mary starts to bleed from her butt and many start to believe that it could cure them. Randy finds this as an opportunity to cure himself from his alcohol problem. Randy goes to the statue and gets himself covered in the blood deeming himself cured. But Pope Benedict XVI comes and reviews the statue saying that the blood is coming from the vagina and that it is normal for females to do so. At the end, Randy finds out that moderation is the key to deal with his drinking.
This episode is ranked at number two for it's portrayal of the Virgin Mary. The more controversial episodes usually include an insensitive way of portraying religion and can at times being crossing the line. Portraying the Virgin Mary bleeding as they did puts into question if it is acceptable. This gained a lot of attention from Catholic Groups and members, who demanded that Comedy Central not air the show and apologize for the inappropriate depictions.
Most Controversial (#1): Super Best Friends (S5 E3), Cartoon Wars Part I (S10 E3) and II (S10 E4), 200 (S14 E5), 201 (S14 E6)
This is the most controversial episodes, which includes 5 different episodes including Super Best Friends from season 5, Cartoon Wars Part 1 and 2 from season 10, 200 and 201 from season 14. Each episode stormed strong controversy due to the depiction of the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. Each episode has been removed from the South Park episode and isn't included on discs for Region 2 and 4. These episodes are the most controversial due to the creators and show getting threats from groups and being forced to censor and even remove the showing of the episodes.
I think that these episodes are extreme when it comes to the creators goals for the show. I think that they have taken a step over the line of acceptable jokes on religion and agree with what has been done to the episodes, as the episodes are not cultural sensitive to the religion.
Overall, South Park is a show that walks the line of being acceptable and going to far, which is proven through these controversial episodes discussed above.
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For more information about each episode, check out South Park's main page