Comparing South Park to The Simpsons is like comparing cheesy poofs to doughnuts. Both are delicious, rich, and stay with you even after they’re finished. (Gross!) So how can we possibly determine which is the more superior animated comedy? It’s a tough debate, but Sandra Gonzalez and I attempted to name a victor. So read on, neighbor-inos, and let us know what you think in the comments below, m’kay?
(This is part of an ongoing series of posts in which EW writers debate the most defining pop culture rivalries. Past subjects have included Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera, Schwarzenegger/Stallone, Godfather/Goodfellas, Movies/Videogames, and the neverending boy-band battle between ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Come back here Thursday for more exciting face-offs!)
Kate Ward (South Park: Oh, awesome!): Okay, let’s get this started. Now, if the argument here was South Park versus The Simpsons seasons 1-11, I’d say you’d surely win in a landslide. Unfortunately, The Simpsons has allowed itself to shrink into a state of irrelevance over the past decade. Say it with me: D’oh!
Sandra Gonzalez (Mmmm… The Simpsons): Are we really going to talk worst seasons here? Because in that case, I’d like to introduce you to the last four years of South Park. Let’s face it, what keeps people talking about South Park and The Simpsons after 15 and 23 seasons, respectively, are not the bad seasons, but the great ones. The ones that remain embedded in pop culture and our memories. So while we could spend the next 600 words comparing “A Million Little Fibers” to “The Ned-liest Catch,” let’s not do that do our dear readers — and most importantly, ourselves.
KW: Fair point. The mere mention of Towelie just makes me want to
get high shudder. Yet, when it comes to this match-up, it’s still impossible not to note the fact that Springfield, wherever it’s located, has gone South. It’s true South Park has lost a bit of its luster post-“Imaginationland,” but it is still relevant enough to be able to acknowledge that it has lost its luster. Re-watch “You’re Getting Old.” The Simpsons could use some self-awareness like that. Or it can just continue doing Twilight parodies two years too late.
SG: HAHAHA! It’s funny ’cause it’s true. Ehem. That said, they might have not delivered the first Twilight parody, but I guarantee you they certainly won’t deliver the last. And that also brings me to a point: The Simpsons, for me at least, has never been about spoofs, parodies, or even timely social commentary. What attracted me to the show in the first place was my love with the oddly illustrated yellow people of Springfield, from every member of the Simpson household to Bleeding Gums Murphy (R.I.P.). The show’s crude humor mixed with normal family happenings not only reminded me of my own family, but also made me want to be part of their entire odd community. I’ve never felt that while watching South Park. Find me a single moment in South Park that was as sweet as watching Homer scrub the green off of Bart after his science experiment went wrong. It was subtle, it was touching, and they ended the scene with green Bart running naked through the house to escape Homer’s wrath. It’s a mix of heart and hijinks that I’ve always found, simply, excellent.
KW: What are you talking about? South Park has plenty of tender family moments! Remember when Cartman found out that his mother was a hermaphrodite and his father was Scott Tenorman’s dad, who he murdered in season 5? Oh, wait. I see your point. So South Park isn’t the most touchy-feely program on TV. But if I wanted sweet family programming, I’d watch Cosby Show reruns. There’s no other show out there even remotely comparable to South Park. It’s immature, offensive — and, yet, undeniably intelligent. Show me any other series that offers social commentary as brilliant and on-point as South Park in such a fast turn-around time. Whenever any big story hits the news cycle, South Park becomes appointment viewing — that’s a rare feat for a cartoon. And they rarely disappoint, touching on topics like elections, religion, and/or pop culture’s worst. And, yes, poop. Because poop is funny. Come on, Sandra, respect my authoritah!