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Motherhood, stereotypes, and South Park

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 09:00 authored by Victoria NagyVictoria Nagy
Mothers are a constant staple of laughs for the adult, cartoon audience. Laughing at the maternal has negative connotations— after all, knowing the sacrifices that many mothers make for their children and families in reality it seems unfair that in return for their selflessness mothers should be parodied in animation. But it is important to note that it is in cartoons aimed at an adult audience that new (or new readings into existing) stereotypes of mothers are presented—like in King of the Hill, Family Guy, South Park (SP), and on occasion in The Simpsons. In cartoons aimed at children, the stereotypical mother is a model of women's roles within the nuclear family propagated in America beginning in the 1950s. In cartoons aimed at adults there is no space for the myth of the perfect mother or wife and it is here that cartoons can parody the myths that are there in society. SP is by no means aimed at children, though undoubtedly many do view it; rather the demographic of SP viewers is consistent with the demographic of Comedy Central—males aged between 14 and 30 years (Finnegan 24). Because of this, the candy-sweet image of a stay-at-home mother in apron, raising her two children, and taking care of them, her husband, and the dog is toxic to the success of the cartoon program. That and it is a far cry from reality as the audience will be well aware.


Publication title

Women's Studies








School of Social Sciences


Taylor & Francis Inc

Place of publication

United States

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