South Park season 22 will be as divisive as ever and deal with a school shooting in its premiere episode. After tackling everything from cannibalism to racial insensitivity, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are approaching a sensitive subject this year with the show's trademark sense of humor.
For over 20 years, South Park has been a staple animated television series in pushing the envelope on what is or isn't socially acceptable. Led by its main adolescent quartet (Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick - who are all voiced by either Parker or Stone), the long-standing series touches on topical subjects from a darkly comedic and satirical angle. It earned a divisive reputation over the years for its commentary on various sensitive subjects, and its upcoming 22nd season is following suit with a premiere episode handling the subject of school shootings.
In anticipation of the show's upcoming new season, the official South Park YouTube channel released a brief clip from the premiere episode, titled "Dead Kids." The clip features the Marsh family sitting down for dinner. Stan's mother Sharon prompts Stan to tell his father Randy what happened at school that day. After it takes him a moment to remember, he explains that he failed his math quiz. This compels Sharon to ask him about "the other thing," which leads to Stan telling his father that there was a school shooting. However, once Randy discovers that Stan was neither involved nor hurt, he casually changes the subject and returns to the topic of his failed math quiz - breezing over the school shooting.
South Park is no stranger to broaching sensitive material, despite its critics, and this season is showing no signs of changing the formula. In fact, even the show's marketing strategy this season has been especially on-brand with Parker and Stone's devil-may-care sensibilities. Their ad campaign features a black background with white text that reads: "America has reached a crossroads. What will we do next?" The text is then followed by a hashtag that reads: "#cancelsouthpark," as if in anticipation of the inevitable negative responses.
Through South Park, Parker and Stone aren't just trying to push buttons, but call attention to topical subjects. Last season's premiere episode focused on white nationalists, while the premiere episode of season 20 dealt with the 2016 US presidential election. And, given that South Park has been renewed up until its 23rd season, any potential backlash facing this season won't stop the series from maintaining its caustic, over-the-top tone.
South Park season 22 premieres on September 26 on Comedy Central.
Source: South Park Studios