South Park — Uncovering the Zaniest Timeline Yet
They have been kids since 1997
I have been watching South Park since I was about 8 or 9. Even though I probably shouldn’t have done so, considering it wasn’t suitable for children, I still laughed my ass off watching the four boys’ various shenanigans and the troubles they get themselves into. But as much as I love the show, South Park today is virtually a different show than what it was in the beginning because back in the day, the show was a farcical comedy. Still, now it’s a plot-driven satire, and the prominence of characters has changed drastically (when you consider that Randy is kind of the main character right now). Even though it’s sometimes hard to believe, South Park is still the same show that it was 25 years ago, or is it?
If there’s something that I noticed to be somewhat characteristic of South Park (aside from “suck my balls”, often repeated in the show), and also probably something that a lot of people don’t notice, it is that the show does not throw viewers back to its old content.
Characters will rarely reference old events that seemingly happened in their lives. Not only that but occasionally, old characters will be killed off or otherwise permanently removed from the series. South Park is constantly adapting to meet modern society’s needs, never remaining in the same place or time, and frankly, Trey Parker just does a fantastic job producing the show.
There’s this common element in fiction known as a floating timeline. It’s the explanation for why the characters never age, in that there is no explanation, and they just don’t age for any apparent reason. I still love South Park, but the kids know what year it is without questioning why they haven’t aged much since 1997. It bothers me how they just casually go by without feeling nervous about their eternal youth. I don’t know if this is a direct methodology of Parker’s writing to refrain from throwbacks. Still, the recent COVID specials made me think that there might be a possibility for multiple timelines.
History is all over the place with this show
As I said, South Park has had an exciting development since its beginning, with it is now a satire that criticises modern culture. The recent COVID specials depicted the kids as adults for the first time since the show started. Funny as the made-for-TV series may be (with that little joke in season 6 where an adult Catman travels back in time and no one remembers), it raises an interesting question: if the kids are now adults, when did they start ageing?
Judging by the dialogue in the movies, the kids only started to age in 2020. So, if they finally started to age in that year, why didn’t they do so before? When you think about it, the kids are chronologically in their 30s when you consider that they have been around for a long time. But as far as lore is concerned, they only aged after the pandemic, which begs another interesting question: why did it take them so long to age?
It’s an interesting question because South Park has been around for a long time and developed interestingly over the years, but lore was never its strong side. I don’t know if Parker deliberately avoids lore-building, but it’s how he writes it that contributes to the weak lore of South Park. The show is still hella funny, but trying to realise the linearity of events in South Park is quite a challenging task because there’s a lot to consider, and it’s all over the place. But, I’ll try my best to analyse where the best possible starting point is.
So… who invented time travel?
Technically, and as hard as it is to believe, South Park is still the same canon it was since it debuted in 1997, as the characters reference various events, albeit seldom, that happened in season 1. This makes it difficult to find a good starting as to find out whether South Park happens on multiple timelines or not. But one thing that can be used as a starting point is realising where these events overlap. Since I’m already talking about the COVID specials, I should probably mention the plot device most relevant to solving the SPMT theory (South Park Multiple Timelines), which is time travel.
Although rarely present, time travel is not an unfamiliar plot device in South Park. Kenny invents time travel in the made-for-TV COVID movie without spoiling it too much. As fun as it is, it contradicts that. According to South Park, the inventor of time travel is not Kenny but two college nerds who taped a duck to a microwave. This is a reference point to help you establish whether the art is in the multiple timelines in the South Park canon or in finding plot inconsistencies.
Also, it’s important to note that lore isn’t the show’s strong side, but sometimes I wonder if Parker forgets what he wrote in previous episodes (years back, that is). More so, multiple timelines nowadays are not an uncommon element. It is often featured in comic books as a means of retcon, which comic book writers conveniently use. Even Mortal Kombat went from a casual single-linearity to an entire multiverse with its recent addition to its franchise. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did the same in South Park. However, writing a complete analysis for something like this would take more than one article.
Did you watch the South Park COVID specials?
I can’t do this alone! Come and help me with this not-so-tremendous project, which is uncovering the secrets of the South Park canon. You know what this section is for.
I still need to work on this South Park theory. I may continue it; I may not continue it; I don’t know. I guess everyone will just have to wait for next week.
Until then, have a good one, everyone! McGee out…