South Park Going South: 113/202 – Cartman’s Mom is a Slut/Cartman’s Mom is Still a Slut

TW: Transphobia

Welcome back to South Park Going South, where I look at every bad episode of South Park to spot the elements that would eventually fester into some of the worst seasons of television ever made. I love the series, but with so much disgusting people establishing their political identities with the show, it’s about time everyone understood why this is the case.

Last time, I went over Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo, a not particularly horrible episode that mostly suffers from mixed aims and establishes a lot of patterns in future bad episodes. Today, I’ll be discussing the show’s first two-parter, which wears its problems on its sleeves. The name of these two episodes? Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty Slut and Cartman’s Mom is Still a Dirty Slut.

….*sigh*

South Park Going South 113 202

Ratings information for the series gets a bit hard to find with the older seasons, but from what I can find, the first part of this two-parter got around 6.4 million viewers watching, the high point for the series at the time, and an incredible number for a cable TV show. Ratings information goes dark until around season thirteen, where things average about two to three million, and seasons eighteen and nineteen’s drops in quality can be felt with ratings constantly under two million and dropping slowly, with exception to two part season finale bumps. Unsurprisingly, it was the terrible episode The Cissy that the show really started to bottom out with (and yes, I will have words for that eventually).

Apparently, from a rather shaky reference I could find, the series averaged six million an episode or so through season two, declined to one and a half during the forth season, and stuck around two to three million per episode all he way until the season eighteen decline. Which is kind of insane, when you think about it. For fourteen years, the series maintained strong ratings, and I can understand why. South Park’s middle seasons are pretty fantastic, and also when the series commentary was most biting and impactful on the larger culture, which ironically lead to it becoming unable to sustain itself. Comedy Central produced a short documentary on the show’s production a few years back, and it really shows what a strain the six day production schedule had on its creators. Season eighteen and on were ultimately inevitable.

But that brings us back to these episodes, the ones that really made the series a juggernaut. Ratings outright doubled during Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, and these two episodes kept the new audience around and built it up for awhile. So, surely, these must be two of the best episodes in the series, right?

Did you not look at the episode titles up there?

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Oh, and quick side note: If the production code seems odd, that’s because Matt and Trey had an April Fools episode between these two with Terrence and Phillip. I won’t be covering it because it’s such a stupid episode that it’s charming, and there will be plenty more chances to look at those two farting offense machines later.

The premise of these episodes is that Eric Cartman, who lives in a single parent home, is worrying about who his father is. As he goes about trying to figure it out, he discovers his mom has been with pretty much every guy in South Park, and he needs to do DNA testing to find out who his dad is. This happens by the end of the first episode, but then the tester, Mephisto, is shot and taken to the hospital, where the gang have to keep him alive during a power outage.

To be fair, these episodes have a lot of good elements to them. There are some great little jokes thrown around, particularly Kenny being literally thrown to the raptors in the second part as his friends drink cocoa and watch sitcoms, but the strongest parts relate to Cartman. Later seasons end up turning the pudgy little jerk into a racist monster that has somehow become a role model to some people, but that’s not the case here. In these early seasons, Cartman is just a spoiled brat who doesn’t know better. Him ripping on Jews is because one of his friends is Jewish, not because he’s an actual antisemitic asshat. We see his lifestyle and have an understanding of why he is the way he is, and we see him doing a lot of strange things and generally having trouble socializing. I used to be *this* Cartman, an a socially inept weirdo in a single parent home. Hell, I was even this culturally unaware, as Cartman keeps thinking his father is a minority and adopting that culture in the most stereotypical way possible. Cartman thinking he’s black is the most accurate portrayal of a white guy’s version of being black I have ever seen (west-side-e!). This hits closer to home than I was expecting on rewatch, including the running joke where he has to sing the entirety of Come Sail Away by Styx when he hears the start of it.

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Word to your motha’

Where things utterly fall apart is Cartman’s mom. Ms. Cartman has always been a bit of a problem for the series. Matt and Trey rarely know what to do with her beyond offensive, sexist jokes. She’s a porn star and sleeps with a lot of guys, and these are pretty much the two main facets of her personality. The series does change her as it goes on and makes her more human, as her problems are more based around her clueless instincts as a parent and loneliness, but the sex negative slut jokes never really go away. These are the first episodes that really define what has only been hinted, and a lot of the first episode is just hearing about her drunken sexual escapades from other guys. And yes, she is referred to as a slut. Multiple times.

But where things become outright horrid is the second episode. There are two subplots here, one involving some supporting characters resorting to cannibalism at a America’s Most Wanted shooting that’s just okay, and another where Ms. Cartman sleeps her way through the political ladder so she can get an abortion, ending when she realizes she meant putting her kid up for adoption. See, it’s funny because a sexually active woman is portrayed as stupid! Kill me.

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hey remember that time bill clinton raped two different women

But wait, it gets WORSE! Yes, we still haven’t gotten to the worst part! After all, why insult an entire gender when you can insult one more that faces constant violent persecution daily!?

See, Ms. Cartman isn’t just stupid and loose, she’s also a hermaphrodite!

Did I mention this episode was voted the best episode of season two?

The twist of the second episode is that Ms. Cartman is the father, not the mother, and yes, one of the guys who had sex with her vomits when he hears she has a penis. Because women don’t have penises and penises are icky unless it’s yours!!!1!!111. The first season had an entire episode about gay marriage, and season two starts with a reveal that one of the characters is non-binary and therefore something freakish to be disgusted by. Fucking incredible.

5
…wait, why is Garrison, the gay guy, horrified like everyone else? Seriously, this needs an explanation.

During my rewatch, I was amazed by just how bad every scene involving Ms. Cartman was. The sheer amount of heterosexual ignorance of intersex people was just icing on the shit cake of misogyny. It’s especially aggravating because there is a lot of good in these episodes, but they just had to go with the low hanging fruit. Season two is thankfully better from here on, but I still have three more episodes to talk about from this season. Just be glad none of them make trans panic a major theme.

Unfortunately, we will be returning to how poorly Matt and Trey handle sexuality around season three. Wee.

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Enjoying South Park Going South? Then maybe throw a few bucks at me on my Patreon to support it! I’m also thinking about doing a series on Family Guy, leave comments if you’d like that or have other ideas for animation and TV articles.

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