The South Park kids (from left): Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski, with Kenny McCormick on the town's sign.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker in 2005
Trey Parker and Matt Stone — the cocreators, executive producers, writers and lead voice actors for twenty-five seasons of South Park — have yet to figure out the secret of their success. "I still don't know what the formula is," says Parker, who also directs the series. "Every season when we get into the [writers'] room, we're just like, 'How do we do this?'"
The duo met in film class at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where they connected over a shared sense of humor, and really, says Parker, "We just wanted to make stupid shit." An early effort, The Spirit of Christmas — an animated short that went the '90s equivalent of viral (copied and shared on VHS) — ultimately caught the eye of then–Comedy Central president Doug Herzog.
On August 13, 1997, five years after Parker and Stone met, South Park premiered on Comedy Central. The animated series about four grade-school pals — Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick — growing up (but never growing old) in South Park, Colorado, immediately drew ire from critics. "The coverage from the first season was like, 'Do not let your kids watch this show!'" Stone recalls.
"Now you watch it, and you're like, 'This is PG-rated,'" Parker adds. "I even have to explain to my daughter that we were saying something against a culture that was so uptight." Nevertheless, the show climbed steadily in the ratings and collected five Emmys as well as a Peabody for "pushing buttons and envelopes with stringent social commentary."
Parker and Stone — who also cocreated the Tony Award–winning musical The Book of Mormon with Robert Lopez — credit the longevity of the series to their enduring aim to make each other laugh. They also keep the show timely with a punishing six-day production schedule for each episode, including the writing, vocal recording and animation.
Their 2021 landmark deal with ViacomCBS (estimated at more than $900 million) ensures more episodes through 2027 — along with fourteen made-for-streaming South Park movies for Paramount+, where their 1999 theatrical release, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, also resides. And thanks to another nine-figure deal, HBO Max is home to the entire catalogue of the series that started it all (minus a few banned episodes).
For the show's twenty-fifth anniversary, emmy's Sarah Hirsch spoke with Parker and Stone, who discussed the evolution of South Park, whether they'll ever hand off the show to someone else and their favorite episodes — one for each season (even the ones they don't like).
How did you decide on these episodes? Did you agree on all of them?
Matt Stone: If we were to each pick twenty-five, we'd overlap by maybe half. But there's something in every episode that puts a smile on my face.
Trey Parker: It's hard going back. Seasons one through three, I kind of hate them all. They're so amateur. I think we learned to write during the show. It's like, "Really? That's our joke?" And because it's animated, I'm like, "We should go fix that and make it better."
MS: It's like looking at an old picture, with your old haircut. You're like, "Oh, all right. That was in."
What stands out to you about the evolution of the characters over the years?
TP: We were twenty-seven when we started the show, and we related the most to the kids. Now we relate to the adults. One of the characters to develop the most is Randy, Stan's dad. He was just another one of the grown-ups, a blank slate. I was doing an impersonation of my father when I started, but Randy became much more like me than Stan did. And the messed-up stuff I would think and do, would go into Randy instead of Stan. [Randy's] changed so much, and the show has changed around him so much that that's been the most fascinating one to watch.
MS: Some of the characters recently are less like [what they were] in the old days. Cartman's mom was there to be a foil for him, and in the last few years we've given her some backbone. All of a sudden, she's more interesting. After a while you just go, "What if we had Cartman's mom stand up to him?"
How have the animation process and style progressed?
TP: Twenty-five years ago, when we had to animate a shot with six people in it, cheering, that would take a day. Now if something takes two or three hours, that's big. After I drew the initial characters, we [made them from] construction paper. [Later on] we hired people for the show — the same people who are here now doing this beautiful, amazing art. They had the ability to do it, but we had to be like, "No, do this in ten minutes." Part of the joke was how crappy it looked. It still has this kind of "crappy" look to it, but now there is really good art.
MS: It still looks handmade. But technology makes it so we can iterate more. A shot that used to take a day to render now takes one or two seconds.
How has the reception of the show changed over the years?
MS: It's hard to tell. We never had much feedback in the beginning. We used to go to the magazine stand in Westwood and look for our reviews. Then with the beginning of the internet, you could get that regular person feedback. Now sometimes I'll look at Twitter, and kind of fuzz my eyes. You can't look at everything and take it all to heart. Even though in some ways you have a direct connection, it doesn't feel like there's any real way to figure out how our show was received.
TP: I've always made it a thing that during a run I can't look, because I'll drive myself crazy trying to respond to something. And we've always been successful by just trying to make each other laugh. We don't listen to a lot of outside stuff. We never have, because it can drive you mad.
How did the South Park movie change things for you?
MS: The movie bought us some credibility. I remember they used to have those summer movie previews in Entertainment Weekly like, "Here's all the movies coming up!" Again, this is pre-internet. You'd look through and there's Austin Powers, there's Star Wars, and we've got South Park the movie. And next to it, it just said like, "Ugh."
TP: We were like, "Let's just make this movie super fucked up because we'll probably never make another movie again." We learned that's the attitude we always need to have. We can walk away from this at any moment. Let's just do it our way. That's why we've been around for twenty-five years.
Do you have a favorite joke or visual gag from the series?
TP: We'll always laugh at the Canada stuff more than anything. It goes way back to season two, when we were going to say who Cartman's father was, and instead we did this big Terrance and Phillip episode.
MS: I think we have in our DNA a little bit of the Jackass guys and Monty Python or culture jamming, where you do something to fuck with your audience. We learned that people don't like being part of a joke. They care about the characters and the world. And when you go, "Fuck you, this doesn't matter," it doesn't go over well.
TP: Yeah, when people were like, "Hey, we waited. Who is Cartman's father?" We were like, "Are you kidding? It's whoever the fuck we say it is."
MS: Who gives a shit? We don't care. Why would you care? We had a hard time figuring out why people cared.
Do you find that there's an assumption that the opinions expressed in the show are your own personal beliefs? And is that a fair assumption?
TP: There are so many different opinions in the show, hopefully. What we like to do is take a subject and then go: here's this side, here's that side, here's this crazy version, here's that crazy version. That's what makes it interesting. And there are times where we'll talk about an issue in a show, and by doing it we formulate our opinion on that issue. Those are always the best.
MS: I think we're better at asking questions than answering questions now. It's part of just being a little older and that being more interesting to us. I think we're better at making controversial subjects just staying controversial than like, "We need people to know that we think this," because it's like, we're kind of scared.
TP: That it's our opinion of it.
MS: Yeah. And then you're on the record about something. I think we're much better at just navigating that in a fun way without having to feel like you have to answer anything.
You proved with the famous election episode ["Oh Jeez," season twenty, episode seven] that you can turn around an episode in less than a day.
TP: What's funny is — and this is something we've never talked about really — the story of that "Woodland Critter Christmas" episode is actually more interesting. We had done Team America and we were exhausted. But we had to deliver a run of South Park. So we started doing episodes and we got to the last one, and we were more burned out than we'd ever been in our lives.
Usually what happens is, the show airs on a Wednesday night. We come in on Thursday morning with a blank slate going, "Okay, what are we doing for this week?" A lot like Saturday Night Live's schedule. We sat there on a Thursday at the end of the run and were like, "I cannot think of anything. Screw it. Let's just go home. We'll lose a day." Next day was Friday. Same thing happens. Finally, Saturday afternoon we said, "What if we do this little story with woodland critters? I have no idea where it goes, but let's just start." Meanwhile, we're like, "Let's call Comedy Central and tell them there's not going to be a final show." Then we came in Sunday morning, and we had one scene. We had three days, and we made "Woodland Critter Christmas," which was crazy.
That one and the election one are so well loved and critically lauded. Does that mean that maybe you should procrastinate since you guys work better under pressure?
MS: That is absolutely the lesson.
TP: It really is true. We used to do this thing every run where we'd start an episode that we'd bank so that we could get a break in the middle. We would make like half of an episode and put it away. And then make like three episodes and go, "Okay, let's pick up this other one so that we don't have to come in until Sunday." Those shows are always, not only the most difficult to do, but always the worst of the run. Because for us, this show is all about momentum. We've got to do this, we've got to do it now, while the joke is fresh. There's no time to second guess yourself. And when we have time to sit there and go, "Oh, yeah, that's kind of funny. But now, let's do it this way." By the end of it, we've completely changed what we wrote anyway because it's not funny to us anymore. Because it sat there for too long.
Do you ever see yourselves handing the show over to someone else?
TP: We view ourselves as a band, the seasons as albums and the shows as songs. Who knows? Maybe someday it won't be our decision. But we still do it all and haven't handed it off because it's a living thing. You can see it change and grow.
MS: More like the Stones, less like the Temptations. With the Temptations it was like, nobody's a real member anymore. It's like Three Dog Night.
TP: It's One Dog Night and a bunch of filler dudes.
Were any drugs involved in the creation of these episodes? [Parker and Stone infamously attended the 2000 Oscars while on LSD.]
TP: None. That's the big [misconception]. Caffeine is the biggest South Park drug. I'll go places and people will be like, "Hey man, you want to go smoke?" I'm like, "I don't smoke weed." And they can't believe it. They're like, "But you must do drugs and then do the show." If I had a glass of wine and tried to do the show, I wouldn't be able to do it. The creation of [South Park] takes a big cup of coffee and getting here at 9 a.m. Like that's —
Trey Parker & Matt Stone's Top 25 South Park Episodes
"MR. HANKEY, THE CHRISTMAS POO"; SEASON 1, EPISODE 9; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 12/17/97
TP: That year was nuts — the show just exploded. It was like this little version of being the Beatles.
MS: The network was like, "More South Park." So we did a Thanksgiving special and a Christmas special. The kids were on the cover of Newsweek and Time. You'd go to that magazine stand in Westwood and we were on like, all the covers — not in the back with a little article.
TP: We got to do these little music numbers, so it felt like a musical and in a way, our swan song. Like, "Here's the big, final, awesome South Park!" Looking at it now, it's so dinky. But Mr. Hankey was such a big character.
"TERRANCE AND PHILLIP IN NOT WITHOUT MY ANUS"; SEASON 2, EPISODE 1; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 4/1/98
MS: We did that as a big joke. Like, you tuned in for this [the revelation of Cartman's father — a mystery posed at the end of season one], but you get this [an episode about Terrance and Phillip, two minor characters on a show within the show]. We were like, "People are going to be so stoked." But everybody was pissed off. Even somebody who might have liked "Terrance and Phillip" wasn't going to like it that day. But I still think it's the funniest show.
TP: It's so specifically our sense of humor — not nearly as broad as normal South Park.
"CHINPOKOMON"; SEASON 3, EPISODE 11; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 11/3/99
TP: We had to pick one, but I hate all the episodes in season three. But I think out of all of them that year, it had a real idea to it. Starting in season two, that's when everyone told us, "Congratulations, guys! Now get writers and move on, because you've got this crappy cable deal."
MS: Cable was an underdog, and network was where you made the big bucks and the big things.
TP: Turns out, it wasn't a crappy cable deal. But there were scenes in those episodes written by other people, and we would be like, "Man, I don't like this." We learned we're never having anyone else write another scene. We're either gonna do this the way we did season one or we're not gonna do it. It felt like South Park was on a decline and we weren't paying as much attention to it as we should have because we were thinking about the movie [South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut].
"SOMETHING YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR FINGER"; SEASON 4, EPISODE 8; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 7/12/00
TP: This was the first taste of Randy becoming Randy, and me paying attention to him as a character. That was the one where we gave him a funny thing, of him going, "What are you guys doing? I want to do that." You can see those first glimmers of him sort of taking over the show.
"TOWELIE"; SEASON 5, EPISODE 8; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 8/8/01
TP: We would do writers' retreats — have fun for a few days before a run would start — and throw around ideas. I remember we were on a boat in Hawaii, and someone was like, "I'm going to go do this...." And someone said, "Well, don't forget to bring a towel!" We just started saying that. "Towelie the Towel, says, 'Don't forget to bring a towel!'" And we were like, "What if that was a show?" When the dumbest things end up in a show, it usually works. But obviously, Towelie as a character is iconic South Park. A lot of the South Parks that we did were these little twenty-minute dramas based on a two-hour movie. Normally [a story about] a tech company making a smart towel and doing all this stuff would be two hours long if it was a real dramatic movie.
"THE RETURN OF THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING TO THE TWO TOWERS"; SEASON 6, EPISODE 13; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 11/13/02
MS: It's about the boys playing a game and how seriously they take it, with their little Lord of the Rings. When they play a game and get into those characters, that's super fun.
TP: That's one of the first shows where we started to understand a lot about writing. We learned you don't have to have three storylines, and major things that happen over days. You could have one night and one thing that you're trying to achieve. Sometimes those are the hardest to write, but I just remember making that one and being like, "Yeah, that was well-done."
When there's source material that you're doing a parody of, do you rewatch that material or do you write based off of your memories of it?
TP: When we find a topic for a show, the first three days are just studying — learning everything we can about it.
"FAT BUTT AND PANCAKE HEAD"; SEASON 7, EPISODE 5; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 4/16/03
MS: That's just ripping on celebrities. The celebrity worship of the late '90s and early 2000s sucked. We were like, "Let's make them a cartoon character and fuck with them." That was a big streak of the show for a while. We still do that a little bit, but not as much.
TP: If you had us pick the top five South Park moments of all time, one would be when Cartman rips the wig off [his hand] and says, "I'm Mitch Conner." A really cool thing about this show is that you can talk about it and it's funny, you can write it and it's funny. But then we go in and record it, and you get to hear it for the first time and it's not me, it's Cartman. Even for us, there's this little bit of magic that happens when the voice is pitched up. Me going, "I'm Mitch Conner," is kind of funny, but when you hear and see this little boy doing it, it becomes so much funnier.
"WOODLAND CRITTER CHRISTMAS"; SEASON 8, EPISODE 14; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 12/15/04
MS: It was a hard production process because we couldn't think of anything. Then it came to us last minute, and it's better than other stuff we had weeks to do. Considering we made it in three or four days, it's so good. I think the blood orgy is a really good South Park moment, too.
TP: I think it was Monday morning. We were like, "What if this is all just a story that Cartman is reading in class?" That moment in the room was like, "Holy shit!" Then it flooded out. I remember the relief of that idea and how it was like, "Oh my God, we're going to pull this off!"
"TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET"; SEASON 9, EPISODE 12; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 11/16/05
MS: We did a short for the MTV Movie Awards, and at the end [Cartman] wipes his ass with [Scientology text] Dianetics. It wasn't broadcast live, but they showed it in the auditorium with like 4,000 people. We started getting calls. That was our first experience with Scientology and the soft censorship of it. Networks and studios were afraid of getting sued by Scientologists — you couldn't make a Scientology joke. Then we did the episode and found a great lawyer who was like, "Yeah, you can do this — it's parody." The Tom Cruise bit was about litigiousness in general — like, what if we said somebody's literally in the closet? It's like we just proved how thin the threats in Scientology were. But they were definitely pissed, and we heard from them. I'm proud of that because no one would make a fucking Scientology joke. Like that's crazy. We make fun of every religion.
"MAKE LOVE, NOT WARCRAFT"; SEASON 10, EPISODE 8; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10/4/06
MS: All of our animators would have their work here, and then Warcraft here. [He mimes side-by-side desktop screens.] After a while we decided to make this episode. We worked with the people who did Warcraft. Trey and I — we're not as much anymore — but we were big gamers. Everybody in the building is. And we got to mix up the art style and get out of our little world.
"IMAGINATIONLAND EPISODES I, II AND III"; SEASON 11, EPISODES 10, 11 & 12; ORIGINAL AIRDATES: 10/17/07, 10/24/07 & 10/31/07
MS: That started out as an idea for a second South Park movie. And then we went, "Well, fuck it."
TP: That was our first big three-parter. We almost made the terrible mistake of making it one episode. We were trying to figure it out, and then we were like, "Let's just make it a two-parter." Then the two-parter became a three-parter. For a minute, we were bummed. We thought we had this cool movie idea, and it was going to be wasted as a show. We didn't realize we could do three parts. We didn't think someday someone could just watch these back-to-back if they wanted. It was just like, "Well, this will be weird because it's three parts. And people are going to have to wait three weeks."
"MAJOR BOOBAGE"; SEASON 12, EPISODE 3; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 3/26/08
TP: It was nice to just let our animators go, because we have so much talent in this building. A lot of times, it's like, "Just make that a little circle and a little square, and have it hop up and down." But when we can go, "We need to do [a reference to the 1981 animated movie] Heavy Metal," you just see them light up. Until we say, "Okay, we need to do Heavy Metal in four days." The head of the art department here is Adrien Beard, who's also the voice of Token [aka Tolkien]. He's been with us from the beginning, and he's an incredible artist.
"EAT, PRAY, QUEEF"; SEASON 13, EPISODE 4; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 4/1/09
TP: That's our favorite. If you sat us down right now and put that episode on, we would laugh nonstop, beginning to end. Just over the fact that Terrance and Phillip are angry because they think farts are funny, but queefs aren't. The little girl queefs on Butters, and everyone just drops their smiles.
MS: It's like [goes deadpan], "That's not funny. Why would you do that?"
TP: It's probably our favorite episode ever because it's just so stupid. It's a microcosm of what South Park is. And there are so many people that don't even like that episode. Watching someone watch it and not laugh makes me laugh even harder.
"201"; SEASON 14, EPISODE 6; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 4/21/10
(This episode caused controversy for its depiction of Muhammad; it can be found in DVD sets but is not available for streaming.)
TP: I remember what I was most upset about when they said, "We're not going to air this." I was like, "This is a really good [episode]. This is really well written." And they were like, "We're going to bleep it, we're going to do this, you've got to change this...." It was a good show. That no one saw.
MS: Some people have seen it. But yeah.
TP: That week was not fun at all. I was like, "I'm walking away. I'm done."
MS: Yeah. Not fun. But a good show.
"BROADWAY BRO DOWN"; SEASON 15, EPISODE 11; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10/26/11
MS: Bobby Lopez, who we did Book of Mormon with, came out and did that episode.
TP: He had the week off and we were like, "Come out and do a South Park with us — but we've got to make it something Broadway." Then we had to make a musical in five days. Even though they're the dumbest songs ever, still, they're songs.
MS: I remember that because my daughter was born on Sunday. I had to leave and go to the hospital while you guys were doing it.
TP: Oh, yeah. I was like, "All right, Bobby and I will be here writing music."
"CASH FOR GOLD"; SEASON 16, EPISODE 2; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 3/21/12
TP: That's another one that I really love. That whole [episode] would be so much better if all the music was turned up. For some reason, it's really low. Half the joke of when they're doing the jewelry segments is that shitty elevator music that plays behind it. But that scene where the old lady calls in and Cartman is trying to sell her jewelry like, "Let me ask you something, ma'am.... Do you like fucking little boys? Because you are fucking me with this price right now." Something like that.
MS: A lot of old people watch QVC. You go into someone's house, and they have a bunch of boxes from QVC.
"BLACK FRIDAY/A SONG OF ASS AND FIRE/TITTIES AND DRAGONS"; SEASON 17, EPISODES 7, 8 & 9; ORIGINAL AIRDATES: 11/13/13, 11/20/13 & 12/4/13
TP: We wanted to do a really good video game, because when the show first came out, a bunch of people made South Park video games and they all sucked. And being gamers, we were embarrassed by them. So we made The Stick of Truth, an RPG game. I think all the costume designs [for this episode] were from the game. We had this whole new library of the kids in these costumes and we're like, "We should do a big show of them in this stuff." And then we came up with the Black Friday idea and making it Christmassy... and Game of Thrones.
MS: And Red Robin. We were like, "We've got to do a show about that. A Red Robin wedding."
"GO FUND YOURSELF"; SEASON 18, EPISODE 1; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 9/24/14
MS: We read that the Washington Redskins had lost their trademark.
TP: We were like, "What does that mean? Could we literally put the Redskins logo in our show?" And they were like, "Yep." So we put a Redskins logo up with boobs and a dick. That's where we started, and we worked backwards from there.
MS: Plus, we're from Denver. So we would never do that to the Broncos, but it was funny to do it to another team.
"TWEEK X CRAIG"; SEASON 19, EPISODE 6; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10/28/15
TP: That was another one that was just out of nowhere. Someone brought our attention to all this Hentai stuff [sexualized Japanese anime] of Tweek and Craig on the internet. They showed us all this fan art of them being in love. It was so weird. The [episode] really came out of that.
MS: It gave us this new dynamic that they're kind of boyfriends, but they're little, so it's not too sexualized.
TP: That idea of them being forced into a gay relationship was really interesting. And we got good music for it. When Peter Gabriel is playing, it's really heavy, and like, touching.
"SKANK HUNT"; SEASON 20, EPISODE 2; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 9/21/16
TP: They take Cartman up to a cabin and you think they're going to kill him, but then they smash all his shit because they think he's [an online] troll. And then he basically doesn't exist. It's hard to pick one episode because that whole season is the only fully serialized season we ever did, where there really is an order.
"SONS A WITCHES"; SEASON 21, EPISODE 6; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10/23/17
MS: I love that. At the beginning of #MeToo, there was this moment where it was like, "Holy shit — look at the stuff we're learning." And then it was like, "Oh, there's a witch hunt going on." Our joke was, it's not a witch hunt. Those fuckers are witches. And there was "Jack and crack Tuesdays" or whatever. Where the guys would go up in the woods, drink Jack and smoke crack and dress like witches. That's funny.
"A BOY AND A PRIEST"; SEASON 22, EPISODE 2; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10/3/18
TP: We'd already done a Catholic priest show. But it had been so many years, and we started talking about the different dynamics. We came up with the idea that everyone goes to church and just rips on the priest, and that's why church is fun.
MS: We did "Red Hot Catholic Love" [in season six, episode eight] and like ten years later, there was another Catholic priest scandal. And I was like, "You know what? We can do another one of these. This is so crazy."
"BASIC CABLE"; SEASON 23, EPISODE 9; 12/4/19
TP: Basically, we were making a bunch of spinoffs. Because that's what everyone kept talking about, was spinoffs. This is The Scott Malkinson Show and it's about him having diabetes.
MS: We set up a real line, and Trey recorded an outgoing message that was like, "If you want to bid on our shows..."
TP: [It went:] "These are all the new shows: We have Tegridy Farms. We have South Park. We have The Scott Malkinson Show. We have One for the Ladies. If you're Netflix or Disney or whoever you are, press this number, and we'll sell you the show." You could call it. I think you probably still can. [Eds. note: You can. (719) 838-4002] We were ripping on how Netflix will buy anything.
MS: [In season twenty-one, episode four], we cut to Netflix [headquarters], and they go, "Hello, Netflix. You're greenlit." Which seems depressing now.
"THE PANDEMIC SPECIAL/SOUTH PARQ VACCINATION SPECIAL"; SEASON 24, EPISODES 1 & 2; ORIGINAL AIRDATES: 9/30/20 & 3/10/21
TP: Specials are hard to pick from.
MS: I love them both. I'm a big fan of the specials. When the pandemic hit, we were sitting around at home like everybody. And we're like, "Well, this is going to be a while. We do the whole show on computers — there's no reason we shouldn't be able to do this remote." And we did. We had to buy tons of equipment. Everyone came to the office, got their computers, went home. And we did the whole pandemic special remote. Nobody was in the same room. That was pretty cool, and it created this hybrid work thing that we still do.
"CITY PEOPLE"; SEASON 25, EPISODE 3; ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 2/16/22
TP: That was the first show where Cartman and his mom have a different dynamic, and it was interesting.
MS: I love the realtor jokes so much — they make me laugh so hard. That all they do is... [mimes crossing arms and looking over his shoulder]. "Fuck real estate brokers" is such a funny target. But that episode — that's where [Cartman] ends up in the hot dog [house]. I don't know why, but it all just came together.
The executive producers of South Park are Parker, Stone, Anne Garefino and Frank C. Agnone II. Eric Stough, Adrien Beard, Bruce Howell and Vernon Chatman are producers.
This article has been edited for clarity and length. A condensed version appeared in emmy magazine issue #8, 2022, under the title, "Whateva!"