The animated series South Park is moving to HBO Max, but don’t think that it remains unscathed. Five episodes from the show have been removed, with each episode that was removed featuring the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
The prohibited chapters are “Super Best Friends” from the fifth season, “Cartoon Wars” parts II and I from the tenth season, and “200” and “201” from the fourteenth season.
Although South Park has always been characterized by making fun of any subject, and even of current religious figures like Jesus, episodes that feature the Prophet Muhammad’s have been censored.
Some followers of Islam, who have even threatened the creators with death on multiple occasions, have not liked his representation in the series.
These violent threats in recent times date back to a series of protests in 2005 that started when a Danish newspaper published multiple cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which were classified by believers as blasphemous. In 2015, Islamic terrorists stormed the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, after depicting Muhammad. 12 were killed and 11 were injured.
South Park is known for its controversy and has never shied away from pushing the limits. Recently, an episode where Chinese censorship was mocked was ironically enough for the country to completely eliminate the series from the nation.
Despite this, South Park’s creators took it with humor and issued a sarcastic apology to the Chinese government.
The decision not to stream the Muhammad episodes is not unique to HBO Max or Hulu (the service that previously had the broadcast rights). When Comedy Central was broadcasting the show, they had already decided not to risk the re-broadcast.
Trey Parker, co-creator of the series, assured in an interview that he was quite annoyed by this original decision since he said that episodes “200” and “201” had been good and that the entire team had worked quite a lot on these. “What pissed me off about episodes ‘200’ and ‘201’ was that I thought the episodes ended up being really good,” he said. “We were so exhausted by it all, we were like, ‘Fuck it, just get on to the next episode,'” Parker said.
During an interview in 2016, former Comedy Central president, Doug Herzog, stated that this measure had not been easy to take, and that it was the first time they needed to completely censor an episode, but that it was necessary to protect the workers. “We were protecting everyone who works here,” Herzog said, after threats were made.