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South Park has found a new stride over its past couple of seasons, as it has delved into the world of continuity and more linear storylines. This past season, the show tackled the debate cycle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, although the show chose to use Mr. Garrison as a stand-in for Trump. One of the reasons the show went that route is because it has actually been difficult to make political jokes on the series. Series co-creator Trey Parker recently explained why Season 20 was so difficult to churn out.
It's tricky now because satire has become reality. It's really hard to make fun of and in the last season of South Park, which just ended a month-and-a-half ago, we were really trying to make fun of what was going on but we couldn't keep up and what was actually happening was much funnier than anything we could come up with. So we decided to kind of back off and let them do their comedy and we'll do ours.
Election-oriented comedy did play a huge part in the over-arching plot of Season 20, but it was not as pointed as you might expect it to be. In fact, the parodies mostly aired pre-election and were about a "giant douche" and a "turd sandwich," nodding at the fact that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton were super satisfactory candidates. During election week, the show reportedly had to do a 180, changing the title of the episode that week to "Oh Jeez" and mocking up a new episode angle after Donald Trump's surprise win. The series was never outright mimicking the headlines that were coming out each week, however, and now it seems like that happened simply because it was too hard to keep up.
While you would think the fact that politics have dominated the news cycle would be a boon for comedy--it has, for instance been easy pickings for the late night sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live--that's not necessarily the case for South Park. In fact, other co-creator Matt Stone also told ABC 7:30 Australia that it's a misconception that lots of noise in politics is good for the Comedy Central series.
We don't have to do more South Park for eight months. People say to us all the time, 'Oh, you guys are getting all this good material... But I dunno if that's true. It feels like it's going to be more difficult.
I suppose they will have to wait and see. A lot could happen between now and the time when Matt Stone and Trey Parker get started on South Park Season 21, just like a lot has happened since Donald Trump took over as the President of the United States. Even if Season 21 is less political moving forward, it still feels like the show is working on a different level than it was just a couple of years ago, and we can't wait to see where the comedy goes next.
While we wait, you can take a look at what TV has coming up with our midseason TV premiere schedule.