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Posted at 6:57 PM ET, 10/14/2010

'South Park' and Jersey: How the latest episode compares to the show's past celeb satires

By Jen Chaney

"South Park" has aired on Comedy Central for an astonishing 13 years. As a consistent pop cultural force, it's gone the same route as its animated-comedy godfather, "The Simpsons": The show's satire is revered yet somehow often forgotten in the daily conversation about what's buzz-worthy on television.

Then every once in a while, Trey Parker and Matt Stone create an episode that gets everyone talking and reminds America that Cartman and Co. have indeed continued to be funny long after "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" came out. That's exactly what they did with last night's skewering of all things Garden State-related, "It's a Jersey Thing." An episode that imagines a scenario in which New Jersey is taking over the nation (it does kind of feel that way sometimes, doesn't it?), the installment may be most notable for its less-than-flattering depiction of Snooki. And by less-than-flattering, I mean inappropriate enough that I don't even feel comfortable embedding video of it in this blog post. (You can watch the full episode here.)

How does the Snooki mockery -- which, based on her Twitter response, the real Snooks seems totally okay with -- compare to four of their numerous past celebrity sendups? Time for a quick comparison.

Barbra Streisand in "Mecha-Streisand" (season one): Icon Streisand is depicted as a massive mechanical dinosaur bent on destroying South Park, until Robert Smith of the Cure assumes the form of a moth and kills her.

Controversy level: Minor, although Streisand reportedly didn't care for the episode.

Compared to "It's a Jersey Thing": "Mecha-Streisand" was not as funny. And not as much of a water cooler moment, either. Babs has nothing to worry about.


Mel Gibson in "The Passion of the Jew" (season eight): Cartman becomes the leader of the Mel Gibson fan club (and begins to dress sort of like Hitler). Stan and Kenny travel to Gibson's mansion to ask the director for a refund of their "Passion of the Christ" ticket money. Gibson behaves like a lunatic who is desperate for someone, anyone, to torture him.

Controversy level: Um, you read that plot description, right? Actually, the episode was critically well-received. Well, probably not by Gibson...

Compared to "It's a Jersey Thing": A braver and ultimately more shocking bit of cultural and celebrity commentary.

Tom Cruise in "Trapped in the Closet" (season nine): Stan becomes a Scientologist and is believed to be the second coming of L. Ron Hubbard. This prompts Cruise to come to his house, only to lock himself in a closet when he finds out Stan doesn't think much of his acting. Cruise refuses to come out of said closet until the end of the episode, when he threatens to sue Stan.

Controversy level: Huge. Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, left the show, allegedly because of this episode. And there was a major kerfuffle when Comedy Central didn't re-air the episode for a while, sparking outrage from fans and speculation that Cruise put pressure on Comedy Central corporate parents Viacom and Paramount so they would not rebroadcast it, something the actor denied.

Compared to "It's a Jersey Thing": Again, this was braver (and better) comedy. After all, Cruise could have sued over this. Is Snooki going to sue for being accused of wanting to have too much sex? Don't think so.


The Jonas Brothers in "The Ring" (season nine): Kenny and the boys realize that the Jo Bros are encouraging their impressionable female fans to wear purity rings as part of a Disney Co. plot to subliminally sell sex to girls.

Controversy level: Minor. This didn't spark the kind of dialogue that the Jersey takedown did.

Compared to "It's a Jersey Thing": "The Ring" was funny, but in this contest, "Jersey" wins. But maybe just by a Snooki.


What did you think of last night's episode? And how does it rank in the pantheon of "South Park" satires?

By Jen Chaney  | October 14, 2010; 6:57 PM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture, TV  
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Comments

Quick comparison indeed. Most of South Park's satirical situations are clearly well-thought out, complex and deserving of a bit more analysis if you want to do a post like this right.

Among the examples mentioned above, I'd say the Ring was the most on-the-money episode, and I remember being a bit surprised it didn't get more attention after it came out. Disney has a notable history of subversively using sex and religion to sell its products, and I'd say that the portrayal of Mickey in that episode was high satire at its best.

Posted by: chilk1 | October 14, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the South Park satire, and I found The Jersey episode very controversial, especially the part where the Taliban is asked to save the States from the Jersey takeover. I want Stone and Parker to continue making shows, but I'm a little concerned for theirs safety this year.

Posted by: sjiseman | October 14, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: pasteurluis13 | October 15, 2010 4:02 AM | Report abuse

I haven't watched South Park in ages, but after seeing that Snooki clip I've decided to catch up.

Posted by: wadejg | October 15, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

WadeJG - every single episode of SP is available on Southparkstudios.com

Yup - all 14 seasons!

Posted by: whitneyuevans | October 15, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I thought their most devastating take down of a celebrity was South Park's "Bennifer" episode when Cartman's left hand stole Ben's affections from Jenny-from-the-block.

Posted by: sportsfan8 | October 15, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Thought the episode was one of the better ones in years...but the end should have been thought out better...why do the Osama Bin Laden thing? Sure he dies in the end, but the depiction of a fleet of airliners (presumably filled with innocents)crashing and exploding at a nuclear level was unnecessary and actually unpatriotic. They could have easily worked Saddam Hussein and Satan in as the saviors...with Snooki actually humping Saddam...or maybe the could have used Terrance and Philip and have Canada come to the rescue. So was it really an artful statement or a hurtful and lazy effort to shock?

Posted by: giantsand | October 15, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Epic!!!! Went to Towson for 4 years and that's all I saw was Jersey this Jersey is better than that. Ummm it's MD, why would you dis the state that you went to school in? Answer, it's the same old Jersey Thing Muff Cabbage...

Posted by: RossdaBoss | October 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

This week's episode was very tame compared to previous years. Obama was called a moron. Hillary was called a robot /alien who hadnt shown her \/ in 30+ years.

Kayne West apologized after he was destroyed over the fish sticks episode.

Mel Gibson still probably got it the worst, as that came out before his DUI jew hating rant.

The best South park ever was the one on the banking industry or the one on racism . A six letter word for people who annoy you N_gger.

The missing letter was an a.

Posted by: Natstural | October 15, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

The words: "Snooki want Smoosh-smoosh" will never leave my mind...

Posted by: robl | October 15, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Stone and Parker are idiots. They are not worthy or qualified to lick the soles of Barbra Streisand's Stuart Weitzman pumps!
By the way, She actually DID think the episode was amusing. Don't ask me why.

Posted by: pumpkin1 | October 15, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

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