South Park has cranked out some very funny episodes in its nearly twenty years on Comedy Central, ranging from plain silly to brilliantly satirical. Following are my favorite top 10 South Park episodes, that ring true with their message or just make me blow milk out of my nose.
1. "The Passion of the Jew"
"The Passion of the Jew" accurately presses all the hot buttons surrounding The Passion of the Christ. Cartman rallies South Park citizens against the Jews. Kyle questions his religion. But worst, or best, of all is the portrayal of Mel Gibson as a loon. The episode was prophetic, because it aired just before Mel Gibson's trouble with alcohol and the law was exposed by the media.
2. "The Return of Chef"
Using previously recorded dialogue, Trey Parker and Matt Stone pieced together Chef's lines to create this episode in which Chef is killed in a definite, graphic and irreversible way. The episode was created in response to Isaac Hayes' quitting South Park over his conflicted feelings about how Scientology was portrayed on the show. The storyline is funny by itself, but with the backstory being played out and the text-to-speech sound of Chef, "The Return of Chef" becomes perfect satire.
3. "Cartman's Incredible Gift"
Only Cartman would literally fall into this scheme. After Eric Cartman jumps off a roof in an attempt to fly, he lands in a coma with a serious head injury. He wakes from his coma, with the cops convinced he has psychic powers. Cartman starts using his "powers" to get paid for catching a serial killer. But the real psychics rally and force Cartman into one of the most hilarious battles I've ever watched. "Sha-na-na-na-na-na. Da-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta."
4. "Proper Condom Use"
The kids at South Park elementary go through a sex education class. But the kids panic, with the boys and girls separating themselves to make sure nothing happens. "Proper Condom Use" reminds us that kids are really just kids, no matter what they're seeing on TV or movies. For the audience, seeing Mr. Mackey and Ms. Choksondik get it on is hilarious and disturbing at the same time.
The boys work on a project with high-strung Tweek, who sees Gnomes interested in stealing underpants. No one believes him until the boys see the gnomes for themselves. "Gnomes" is a whimsical, nonsense episode that rolls out laugh after laugh.
6. "Hell on Earth 2006"
To truly enjoy "Hell on Earth 2006," you should familiarize yourself with MTV's My Super Sweet 16. In that MTV reality show, very wealthy teenage girls and their moms plan a 16th birthday party. The show scares me. Apparently it interested Trey Parker and Matt Stone enough to depict planning such a party as "Hell on Earth." Satan's tantrums and pouty demeanor parody the girls who appear in My Super Sweet 16, with their over-the-top demands and serious drama. But in the world of South Park, it's hilarious, not painful.
7. "Imaginationland" Trilogy
The Emmy Award-winning "Imaginationland" addressed our fear of terrorists by creating a parallel universe filled with iconic characters, including Kool-Aid, Aslan and Luke Skywalker. Our universe is filled with military and Al Gore. Typically, the whole story is kicked off when Cartman makes an obscene bet with Kyle.
8. "The Death of Eric Cartman"
Poor Butters. Man, that kid gets smacked with everything that goes down in South Park. In "The Death of Eric Cartman," the boys agree to ignore Cartman to teach him a lesson. Cartman is convinced that he's dead and no one can hear or see him because he's a ghost. However, poor Butters isn't in on the plan to shun Cartman, and thinks he is the only one who can see Cartman's ghost. Classic Cartman. Silly story. Full of laughs.
9. "Trapped in the Closet"
How could a silly cartoon on basic cable cause such a stir? South Park ridicules Tom Cruise, John Travolta and other Scientologists in this episode. After it aired, rumors flew that Tom Cruise was furious and demanded its removal from syndication. Isaac Hayes (Chef) later quit the show, being a Scientologist himself. Regardless of prickly religious material, "Trapped in the Closet" is a laugh riot.
10. "Eat, Pray, Queef"
In "Eat, Pray, Queef" women try to join in the fun of making noises with their bodies, only to be rebuffed by men who find it disgusting. (Obviously, they don't listen to Howard Stern.) Though the premise is rather cringe-worthy, the message is clear: what's good for the gander should be good for the goose... but it's not. The highlight is watching Marth Stewart throw her own kind of confetti party for spring.