Eight thousand minutes, 1,714 characters, 267 episodes, 83 award nominations, 20 seasons, and one exhibit to commemorate it all.
Comedy Central’s “South Park” is celebrating its 20th season and 19-year longevity with a free-to-the-public, interactive exhibit at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. The “South Park 20 Experience,” as the center calls it, is running from Aug. 24 to Sept. 25 in order to showcase the phenomenal milestone the 20th season represents for the show of crude, yet humble beginnings.
“South Park” first debuted in 1997 with creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker using cardboard and construction paper cutout animation, originals of the first episode which can be seen on the second floor of the exhibit in animation cells. “South Park” quickly gained recognition for its topical and thought-provoking themes, which allowed them to move onto higher level animating software that mimics the primitive animation style without as much effort.
“The first season was all made with cardboard and they [have] those on display so it was really cool to see where and how far they’ve come,” 19-year-old “South Park” enthusiast and exhibit attendee, Clyde Josh said.
The Paley Center is brimming with 20 life-size cutouts, both 2D and 3D, from famous scenes and of notable characters for this month-long event in order for fans to take pictures with, and immerse themselves in, the world they have loved, laughed, and learned from on screen. Some notable cutouts include a tea party with Cartman and plush friends, Randy Marsh being arrested in a bloody state, a backdrop of Satan’s living room with a couch people can sit on, Terrance and Phillip stands, and Cartman’s iconic Jennifer Lopez hand impression from “Taco-Flavor Kisses.”
As one walks through the gallery, boisterous laughter and impressions can be heard as fans relish in the retrospective revival of their most memorable scenes.
The second floor also continues the emphasis of the “interactive” and “20” themes by featuring 20 artists and their pieces honoring “South Park,” a collection put together by notable artist Ron English, which can be purchased at considerable prices.
“What I loved most [about the exhibit] was the interactive displays and original art on the second floor,” Josh continued. “These are people that are fans that are actually contributing to something they love.”
The “South Park 20 Experience” is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. from now until Sept. 25. The 20th season of “South Park” will premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.