There are few people who don’t know of South Park, the classic animated sitcom which is regularly referenced in popular culture. The series has been airing since 1997, and impressively, there are over 300 episodes available to binge watch at the time of writing. 

The main focus of the show is four boys – Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, Kenny McCormick and Stan Marsh. They live in a Colorado town and the show chronicles their various exploits. South Park is known for having a great deal of profanity and making use of dark humour that satirizes many topics. It goes without saying that this show is not for the faint hearted – and not for children!


Four young boys live in the fictional town of South Park and go about their daily lives as part of a typical American community, with fellow students, family members and various residents such as elementary school staff. Stan is seen as the average fourth grader, while Kyle is Jewish. The two are best friends, and this fact is regularly highlighted throughout the series. Cartman is often seen as the antagonist, as he has strong opinions and a loud personality. He is often seen at odds with Kyle, who has a moral compass (unlike him). Meanwhile, Kenny is known for wearing a tight parka hood which covers his face and muffles his speech. The first five seasons of the show saw Kenny repeatedly die, before returning in the next episode with no explanation given.

Cast and characters

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the co-creators of South Park, voice most of the characters in this series. Other people who have made up the voice cast over the years include:

  • Mary Kay Bergman
  • Mona Marshall
  • Eliza Schneider
  • April Stewart
  • Jennifer Howell
  • Adrien Beard
  • Vernon Chatman
  • John Hansen
  • Issac Hayes

Guest appearances have come from Radiohead, Korn, Cheech & Chong, Jennifer Aniston, Norman Lear, George Clooney and more. 


South Park began its life as two animated shorts called The Spirit of Christmas. One of them became one of the first Internet viral videos and led to South Park going into production. As the pilot made use of cutout animation, all of those that followed used software which emulated the technique. 

The two co-creators, Parker and Stone, met in college during the 90s and realised they both loved Monty Python – one of their main inspirations in South Park. After their animated shorts went viral, Fox met up with them to discuss the premise of South Park – as they had previously put out shows such as The Simpsons and The X-Files. However, as there were disagreements about characters with Fox, the pair began negotiating with MTV and Comedy Central. Parker wanted the latter to be involved as he worried that MTV would make it a show aimed at children.

The show is broadcast internationally as well as in the US. Namely, it is seen by audiences in India, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, Australia and more. Seasons have been released on DVD and Blu-ray.

Episodes and reception

The 23 seasons of South Park which are out at the time of writing have between 10 and 17 episodes. Seasons 8 through 16 have 14 episodes, while seasons 17 through 23 have just 10. Impressively, there has been a new season every year since 1997, with season 23 airing in 2019. Comedy Central made all of the episodes available for streaming online from 2008, and within a week of this change being implemented, half a million streams had been completed by audiences. Hulu signed a three-year deal in 2014, and HBO signed a multi-year deal for their HBO Max service beginning in June 2020 – with rumours reporting the deal cost around $500 million.

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HBO Max is built around HBO programming, with all of the titles people have enjoyed watching over the years being put in one central hub. There are also several notable acquisitions – for example, Friends was taken off Netflix in January 2020 in preparation for its move to the streamer. There is content from WarnerMedia companies such as DC Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock Entertainment, The CW, CNN, TruTV, TBS, TNT, Crunchyroll, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Hanna-Barbera, Turner Classic Movies and Turner Entertainment.

Pros and Cons


  • A strong library of HBO content, with classics that people associate with the brand.
  • Unique user interface with picks from influencers and talent.
  • Investments in popular titles such as South Park and the Studio Ghibli films.


  • Higher price point than other streaming services on the market.
  • Parent company is a telecoms business, so is inexperienced in video streaming.
  • A later launch date than Apple TV+ and Disney+ – will people still be considering new services?

Types of content available

In July 2019, it was reported that HBO Max would feature 10,000 hours of content upon launch. This library features exclusives such as the complete run of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Big Bang Theory and South Park. All 21 of Studio Ghibli’s animated films are also part of the library, with notable titles including Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.

Original content includes DC Comics shows from Greg Berlanti called Green Lantern and Strange Adventures, a Riverdale spinoff called Katy Keene, an adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans, Grease: Rydell High, a comedy called Made for Love and a limited series called Station Eleven.

All 11 seasons of the modern Doctor Who have been picked up by HBO Max, and there are further seasons being planned. When they have made their debut on BBC America, they will move to the streaming service.

The DC Extended Universe superhero movies are also available, as are the Godzilla and King Kong films. The Lord of the Rings franchise is a part of the library, too. However, Harry Potter’s Wizarding World won’t be available until 2025 due to an exclusive streaming rights deal purchased by NBCUniversal.

J.J. Abrams signed a $250 million production deal to produce new content for HBO Max, and a number of original series can be expected on the platform. Other originals with big names behind them include at least two original movies from Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine. 

Further recognisable names include The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco producing and starring in The Flight Attendant, Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort appearing in Tokyo Vice, Anna Kendrick’s work on romantic comedy Love Life and a film from comedian Rose Matafeo called Starstruck. 

Existing content being picked up includes a Gossip Girl reboot, an animated Gremlins prequel and a Dune spinoff called Dune: The Sisterhood.

Top HBO Max TV shows and movies

  • Made for Love – A woman married to a tech CEO tries to escape him. However, he becomes obsessed with finding her and forcing her to connect with him using brain chips.
  • Dune: The Sisterhood – A series comprising ten episodes which is based on the Dune sci-fi novels. The Bene Gesserit women are focused on.
  • The Flight Attendant – The titular character wakes up next to a dead body in a hotel room in Dubai. Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory stars and produces.
  • Gossip Girl – The classic series is back in a reboot, centering on rich teenagers who go to private schools in New York City.
  • Tokyo Vice – Centers on the Tokyo Metropolitan police and stars Baby Driver actor Ansel Elgort.
  • The Boondocks – The animated series makes a comeback in a revival on HBO Max. The original is also available in the library.
  • Legendary – A competition series which focuses on people who participate in voguing battles. 
  • Love Life – Starring Anna Kendrick, this is a romantic comedy series spanning half an hour.
  • Raised by Wolves – Ridley Scott is the director for this science fiction series.
  • Karma – A competition show for kids who solve puzzles and challenges while off the grid.
  • Americanah – A limited series, starring Lupita Nyong’o. It focuses on a young Nigerian woman who moves to the US.
  • Circe – A limited series based on the novel. The central focus is the Greek mythological god Circe.
  • Looney Tunes – There are 80 new shorts, each lasting 11 minutes. Classic characters such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck make a return.
  • Adventure Time – The TV series is back with four specials, each of which is an hour in duration.
  • Gremlins – The Animated Series – The creatures from the two movies make a comeback in an animated series on the streamer.
  • Station Eleven – A dystopian series which focuses on how the world goes on after most of its population is killed in a pandemic.
  • The Greatest Space – A competition series featuring contests between interior designers.
  • Grease – Rydell High – Based on the classic 1950s Broadway and movie musical, this musical TV show brings back original characters and introduces new ones.
  • Craftopedia – A competition where kids complete crafting challenges.

User interface

Content on HBO Max is available for offline viewing, which means you will be able to keep up to date with your favorite shows while on the go. Furthermore, there are measures such as a PIN system in place for parental control. This way, you can be sure that kids won’t log into the streamer without your knowledge and watch content which is inappropriate for them.

HBO Max is similar to Disney Plus in that it has content hubs based on brands – much like Disney has hubs for Star Wars, Marvel and so on. Another measure is ‘co-viewing’ homepages, with suggestions that represent the viewing tastes of multiple people in a household. This makes viewing easier for couples or families, as a profile won’t just contain recommendations for one person.

While Netflix provides recommendations based on their famous algorithm, HBO Max focuses on featuring pics from ‘talent’ and ‘influencers’. There are short videos alongside the content they choose. This is similar to the way some physical book shops recommend particular books, with a note on why they have been chosen. Some of the talent featured on HBO Max includes Bill Hader and Regina King. 

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