“Inside Amy Schumer” and “The Daily Show” are the Comedy Central series that commanded all the media attention this year, but the real standout at the network in 2015 was "South Park" with its just-concluded season-long arc (the first of its kind in the show’s history, I think) that seemed to be about so many different things but was ultimately revealed to be all about just one: The ever-increasing and somewhat insidious control that advertising has over all of us, even when we don’t realize it.
No aspect of the ad business was spared from devilish deconstruction at the hands of scary-smart and brutally honest “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone: Digital advertising, “native content,” advertorials, pop-ups, pull-downs, slide shows, the neutralizing of news, the disguising of ads as news, ad-blocking, the purity of advertising in newspapers and much, much more. Just for fun, Whole Foods, yappy Yelpers and Caitlyn Jenner (below right) were tossed into the middle of it all, with riotous results.
As an added bonus, Parker and Stone took on the unchecked power and censorious influence of the politically correct with a new character, PC Principal, the tyrannical overlord of South Park Elementary School.
Regular visitors to Planet Ed know that I have been chronicling much of the memorable genius of “South Park” this season. I don’t think there is another scripted show on television that so relentlessly and in so unforgiving a way tackles the truth behind contemporary issues. Its commentary, verbalized by any number of its colorful characters, is always laser-sharp, thought provoking and, of most importance, wickedly funny. It’s also as naughty as anything else on cable, including that other Comedy Central gem “Tosh.0,” as noted here.
I can’t believe “South Park” has been with us for 17 years, and I can’t imagine it not being with us for 17 more.
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