One of South Park’s greatest assets over the years is its expansion from the self-contained stories of the small Colorado town to tales that take the boys out of their (and therefore our) comfort zones. Whether they’re freeing Willzyx from the Denver Sea Park, negotiating a peaceful end to a Canadian strike, stopping whale and dolphin killing in Japan, or dealing with Osama bin Laden, the boys travel and have more of a global impact than any other fourth-grader before them.
To watch this show is an act of rebellion and suspension of disbelief in and of itself. Like any animated show, especially those aimed at young adults and beyond, South Park’s parameters allow it to address issues in the bluntest and most honest terms possible. When the story takes us to new locations, it signifies to us that the show's creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are not simply going to a new place, but a new mental state as well. We’re being taught to think on entirely different terms than what we’re used to, usually to illuminate some glaring hypocrisy.
We’ve laughed and we’ve grown to love these characters, but — summer vacation be damned — we’ve also learned immensely from them. Here's my list of some of the best South Park moments.
1. 'Free Willzyx'
Hoping to set the killer whale Jambu free after it “speaks” to them — and return it to its home on the moon — Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny meet with various world leaders who might support their cause. A notable outstanding moment comes when the Russians think the request is a prank call from President George Bush.
This episode starts off by mirroring the South Park pilot "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe," which is a great piece of nostalgia, until the boys realize they are stuck in a repeating reality. With the help of scientist Jeff Goldblum, they soon learn that the world is just a reality show called “Earth” and since they’ve become self-aware, “Earth” has been cancelled. The Independence Day and Contact references, as well as recalling the show’s pilot, makes this episode a real gem.
This episode tackles the classic underdog sports movies of the 1980s, as well as annoying timeshare salesmen, and does so with aplomb. Some scenes to remember: The learning-to-ski montage with lyrics like “we’re gonna need a montage,” and the Total Recall-inspired reveal that the geeky girl has mutants growing out of her chest.
4. 'Canada On Strike'
This episode was inspired by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, transferring the disrespect felt by TV writers onto Canadians, who felt a similar level of disrespect on the global stage. There’s so much to choose from here, from Butters’ rendition of “What What (In the Butt),” to the wisdom of Terrance and Phillip, to the Colorado Department of Internet Money doling out theoretical dollars to past internet sensations including Dramatic Chipmunk and Numa Numa.
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