6. Randy Fears He Won’t Be Able to Fight the Bat Dad (S9E7 – “The Losing Edge”)
Call it a Rocky spoof. Call it a lament against the pains of Little League baseball. I call it the best episode in South Park history. Faced with an extended season, the South Park little league baseball team cannot seem to stop winning. Meanwhile, Randy Marsh faces his toughest test as a drunk dad fighting in the stands: the Bat Dad. In the scenes leading up to his big speech, Randy has fought his way through a slew of drunken parental foes (montage-style to the song “You’re the Best”, no less). But the Bat Dad, a mammoth caped man obsessed with his Denver squad, has Randy scared he might not have what he takes.
He confesses his fears to his wife Sharon, who tells him perhaps he should just not drink and go support his son. The ensuing climatic fight, with Randy entering late in the game with a tray of beers declaring “Let’s go South Park.” An epic fight ensues, and Randy goes down. Inspired by delusions of his wife and the coach from Rocky, Randy rises, stating “I didn’t hear a bell.” I almost can’t summarize this scene to someone without laughing. Randy’s complete and utter disconnect from the world is his defining character trait, and final fight is beautiful to behold.
7. Randy Marsh Succumbs to Alcoholism (S9E14 – “Bloody Mary”)
South Park has taken on some significant groups. The show has blasted Mormons, Scientology, and the media’s portrayal of Islam. But in “Bloody Mary,” they waged perhaps their most controversial war: attacking Alcoholics Anonymous. Randy uses his new knowledge that alcoholism is a disease beyond his control to relegate himself to a wheelchair, where he sucks down beers and laments his lot in life. At one point, he goes to visit a “sacred” statue of the Virgin Mary so that he may be granted freedom from his ailments.
I think “Bloody Mary” was a significant chapter for South Park because it committed to its premise without apology. One thing the show has always held true to is its label as an equal-opportunity offender. South Park earned the right to pick a fight with AA by battling so many smaller foes in earlier seasons. Of course, the episode is also another chapter in the legacy of Randy Marsh. His selfishness as a human and hilarity as a character continue to grow in “Bloody Mary.”
8. Cartman’s Bathroom Break (S10E8 – “Make Love, Not Warcraft”)
We’ve talked a lot about South Park for it’s higher-brow qualities, but part of the show is about how low it can go too. Case in point: the scene where Cartman takes a bathroom break during an epic session of World of Warcraft. It is, shall we say, graphic. Cartman is too busy to leave his computer, so he yells for his mother, who comes in with a bedpan. Cartman’s aim is less than perfect, and the scene is excruciatingly funny. South Park has always prided itself on keeping a consistent level of bathroom humor in their content. The scene is entirely unnecessary, but it’s the most memorable part of a great episode.
“Make Love, Not Warcraft” features scenes done in the style of the Warcraft game. In a sense, doing the bathroom scene provides a crude counterpoint to the technologically-advanced parts. Almost like Trey Parker and Matt Stone are giving a wink to viewers that says they know they’re doing something weird with the computer graphics, but don’t worry, because Cartman defecates on his mom too.
9. Gerald Broflovski Turns Into a Hobo (S11E7 – “Night of the Living Homeless”)
I used to live in Santa Cruz, CA. For those who’ve never had the pleasure, Santa Cruz is a beach town riddled with vagrants. I don’t say this to be unkind; it’s simply the way it is. Walking downtown, one couldn’t get a single block without being hit up for change. God forbid you light a cigarette. When my Santa Cruz brethren and I sat down to watch “Night of the Living Homeless,” we were convinced the show was based on our town. The premise is an homage to Dawn of the Dead, with poor people stepping in for zombies. In a pivotal scene, Kyle’s dad Gerald forges into the fray, where he finds himself without his wallet. Suddenly, he realizes he’ll need to take the bus, which requires….change!
This pick might be a bit biased, but the way the episode perfectly warps the Dawn of the Dead plot into something offensive and relevant is pretty impressive. Randy Marsh is great as the guy ready to put a bullet into anyone who appears to have “turned.” The episode is a departure from the more in-the-moment episodes South Park has adopted as its bread and butter, and yet it functions as a contemporary take on the issue of American poverty. Plus Randy with a shotgun.
10. The Cure for AIDS is Money (S12E1 – “Tonsil Trouble”)
Allow me to cheat a little on this one. “Tonsil Trouble” may not be a perfect episode, but it has three incredible moments. The first is when Jimmy Buffet sings Cartman a song entitled “AIDS Burger in Paradise.” The song is the epitome of stupid, but if I say it to any of my friends, they go catatonic from laughter for several moments. Moment two is Cartman asking Kyle, “Are you sure? Are you HIV positive?” Incredibly offensive yet, but also so stupid you kind of laugh out of default. The third is the cure to HIV discovered by Cartman, Kyle and Magic Johnson. Apparently all you have to do is get a direct infusion of cash straight into your veins. The obvious metaphor, that those with money are much better fighting HIV than those without, is delivered in typically abstract but astute fashion.
“Tonsil Trouble” is a excellent endcap to my summary of South Park moments. It has terrifically terrible aspects to it, but it also hits home with a message about the true state of health care. One may not turn on South Park to learn anything, but it’s hard not to something out of most episodes. Honestly, for all the awards and accolades South Park has received, I’m surprised they haven’t earned more. What other show so aptly toes the line between “I would never show that to my parents” and “This show is smarter than to my parents.” Here’s to more memorable moments to come.
Ok, what did I miss?