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South Park's Breakneck Production Is Managed Down To The Minute

It's no secret to anyone with eyes that the art style of "South Park" is rather crude. But while the show's look may not reach the artistic heights of a Disney movie, the rougher look has given it an advantage over other animated series. Originally airing on Comedy Central in 1997, the adult animated series follows the exploits of a group of foul-mouthed elementary kids and their eccentric Colorado town. The show originated from a series of cutout animation short films created by college friends Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It has become renowned for its crude humor, extreme profanity, and unflinching satire, taking jabs at everything from the Church of Scientology to Rob Schneider movies.

Despite this, "South Park" remains a mainstay of pop culture with a massive fanbase, currently still running with 25 seasons, over 300 episodes (via IMDb), and an Oscar-nominated feature film released in 1999. The show would win a Peabody Award, along with five Primetime Emmys.

While most shows with such a level of success would use their resources to polish up their production values, "South Park" has mainly remained unrefined in its approach to animation. The first episode was done in traditional cutout animation, while the following episodes and seasons made a turn to digital technology meant to replicate that look. While many animated series take several months to make just one episode, a typical "South Park" episode has a far more streamlined approach that the team has gotten down to a tee.

The show only missed a deadline once

For over 25 years, "South Park" has been making the stomachs of TV viewers everywhere bust with laughter equally as much as it has kept their jaws dropped on the floor with shock. And in that time, the team has gotten their process down. While episodes initially took three weeks to complete (via Wired), the team has been able to complete episodes in one week (via Rolling Stone). This method has worked out favorably for the team, as explained by executive producer Frank Agnone in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "We can be changing lines at 6, 7 a.m. the day of air," Agnone says. "Through the years, it's a tenuous row to hoe in making sure the guys don't feel too much creative pressure, but enough pressure that the reality of making air is always relevant being that we're six days at a time, per episode. It's not even hours here at South Park: We micromanage minutes to maximize what we can get out of every hour, every day."

In the same interview, the team admits that they have worries each season about not delivering an episode on time. Fortunately, this has only occurred once with Season 17, Episode 4, "Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers," due to an unexpected power outage. "It was one deadline that we weren't going make anyway," says co-creator Trey Parker. "So it's this really weird thing that happened when the power went out."