South Park S20 still relevant.

South Park Season 20.

South Park Sea­son 20.

The Simp­sons are in their 28th sea­son, and the last time they were even remote­ly fun­ny was around sea­son 13 or 14. So for the last ten years they’ve been paint­ing by num­bers, and a once cut­ting edge show has ren­dered itself com­plete­ly irrel­e­vant. And Trey Park­er and Matt Stone, the cre­ators of South Park, have clear­ly been think­ing about this very carefully.

At the moment we’re up to episode 5 of the cur­rent sea­son (20) on Com­e­dy Cen­tral and it’s clear that it’s become a notice­ably dif­fer­ent beast to the South Park of five or six years ago. The main dif­fer­ence being, that instead of hav­ing neat, indi­vid­ual episodes that exist in their own bub­ble, inde­pen­dent­ly of any episodes that come before or after, there are now three main sto­ry arcs that link each of the episodes across the whole season.

The yawn Simpsons.

The yawn Simpsons.

Inevitably, the main sto­ry arc gives us their take on the seem­ing­ly unsat­i­riz­able elec­tion, with the girls and the boys at the school divid­ed into two fac­tions hell bent on mutu­al destruc­tion. Then there’s the inter­net troll sto­ry, which gets increas­ing­ly inter­est­ing the more it unfolds. And final­ly, there’s the Mem­ber Berries dig at J.J. Abrams and co and the nev­er-end­ing stream of nos­tal­gia-fuelled tedi­um we’re being sub­ject­ed to because of their reliance on pre-exist­ing fran­chis­es instead of ever com­ing up with any­thing actu­al­ly original.

Much more riski­ly, as ever, they are react­ing in real time to the events of the week which then get incor­po­rat­ed into that week’s episode. So last week they had Mr. Gar­ri­son — as the Trump stand-in — spew­ing forth a tor­rent of anti-female bile at his crowd of sup­port­ers. But when then a num­ber of women get up to leave in protest, he quite rea­son­ably asks them, so that’s where you draw the line? It’s fine for me to say all that stuff about all Mex­i­cans being rapists and all Mus­lims being ter­ror­ists, but as soon as I start insult­ing women, well that’s when I’ve crossed the line?

That was the week that was.

That was the week that was.

They are down to ten episodes a sea­son now, so inevitably you’re occa­sion­al­ly going to get the sense that they are just try­ing to jam too much into each episode. But tak­en as a whole, this is eas­i­ly the fun­ni­est and the most rel­e­vant com­men­tary on what’s going on at the moment in the US any­where on tele­vi­sion. You can fol­low it on Fri­day nights at 10pm on Com­e­dy Cen­tral. But if you can, you should real­ly try and see it from the begin­ning of the sea­son. In the mean­time, here’s a taster of what the debate looked like.

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