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We’re facing a glut of South Park, with at least 12 “movies” and seven seasons on the way. It’s a good time for a refresher on how the show got so big in the first place.

Youtuber Apocaloso has obliged with The Story of South Park: A Documentary, an hour-long video essay on South Park and its influence. A prologue sketches the context — the animated sitcoms and adult series that preceded it, like The Simpsons and Beavis and Butt-Head — before the video dives into the story of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose friendship and “strong authorial voice” laid the foundations for a media empire.

Watch The Story of South Park: A Documentary below:

Apocaloso traces the early careers of the two creators, touching on the projects that led up to South Park, including the two shorts titled The Spirit of Christmas — the second of which was one of the first viral online hits (long before streaming sites existed and when downloading videos with dial-up modem took forever). He also describes the pipeline of South Park, explaining how its digital cut-out style speeds up the production process by an order of magnitude.

Like so much South Park commentary, the video is mostly interested in the satire. Addressing the show’s overarching question — is anything off limits to humor? — Apocaloso revists key controversies, such as the Scientology baiting of the episode “Trapped in the Closet” and the borderline climate-science denial of “ManBearPig.” The idea that the show’s nihilism has dated in an age of social activism is an interesting one, but Apocaloso doesn’t pursue it too far.

There’s nothing brand new in the video, but it is detailed and very well supplied with clips and archive footage. It’s worth watching all the way through.

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Deputy Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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