In South Park’s eighteenth season, Trey Parker and Matt Stone started doing things a little differently. The events of each episode began to affect the events of the following episode. By Season 19, they were doing full-blown serialized storytelling. In some cases, this worked well. But in most cases, it didn’t, as the writers couldn’t predict the headlines, and it made the stories feel aimless.

Parker and Stone have scaled back the serialization in the years since, finding a nice middle ground between maintaining episode-to-episode continuity and focusing on each episode as an individual piece. Here are the show’s five best and five worst multi-episode plot threads.

10 BEST: GERALD’S SECRET LIFE AS AN INTERNET TROLL

When an internet troll named SkankHunt42 has been attacking the school message boards, South Park Elementary’s resident activist Wendy Testaburger threatens to take action if they don’t stop posting. The boys assume the troll to be Cartman, who has recently adopted uncharacteristically progressive views, but it actually turns out to be Kyle’s dad, Gerald.

When he’s directly responsible for a suicide in Denmark, he desperately tries to clear his name, and later gets trolled in spectacular fashion by the Danish government.

9 WORST: TEGRIDY FARMS

In Season 22, Randy moved his family out to a weed farm. It was fun at first, and the show got all the comedic mileage out of it that they could for the season. But for some reason, the whole first half of Season 23 was dedicated to dragging out the Tegridy Farms storyline.

The other Marshes just wanted to abandon the farm and move back to town and go back to the way things were — much like the audience in real life — but Randy insisted on beating this dead horse for six whole episodes.

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8 BEST: MR. GARRISON’S RUN FOR PRESIDENT

Starting with Season 19’s “Where My Country Gone?,” Mr. Garrison made a bid for the U.S. Presidency in the 2016 election. Beginning with a promise to build a wall on the Canadian border, Garrison went on to win the Republican nomination and eventually the Presidential election.

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Trey Parker and Matt Stone simply followed the headlines with this storyline, and Garrison ended up being an unexpectedly fitting allegory for Donald Trump.

7 WORST: MR. GARRISON’S PRESIDENCY

When Parker and Stone originally chose to use Mr. Garrison as South Park’s Trump proxy, they expected Hillary Clinton to win the then-upcoming election. They even wrote and animated a version of the post-election “Oh, Jeez!” episode that revolved around Clinton’s victory, only to have to rewrite and reanimate the entire episode after Trump won.

As a result, Mr. Garrison’s presidency has always been a little awkward. Translating the headlines into South Park episodes while retaining Garrison’s unique personality has clearly been a challenge.

6 BEST: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS COMES TO SOUTH PARK

In the Season 19 premiere “Stunning and Brave,” political correctness arrives in South Park in the form of the elementary school’s new principal, PC Principal. He kicks all the outdated stereotypes out of town and sets up a hub for like-minded progressive thinkers that has the same design, rituals, and mentality as a frat house.

The PC wave gave Trey Parker and Matt Stone a chance to reflect on their own history of politically incorrect humor. They sum it up best through Cartman: “We’re two privileged, straight, white boys who have their laughs about things we never had to deal with.”

5 WORST: CARTMAN’S FEARS OF A MATRIARCHAL MARTIAN COLONY

In the back end of Season 20, a newly PC Cartman fears that the Danish government’s Troll Trace technology will allow his girlfriend to see all the un-PC stuff he’s been texting and emailing to his friends over the years.

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He’s plagued by visions of a colony on Mars, run by women, where men are kept as prisoners in caves, being pumped for sperm and comedy. Even though this was all in Cartman’s head, which would explain the on-the-nose and sexist nature of the gags, this storyline didn’t really land.

4 BEST: SOUTH PARK GETS GENTRIFIED

South Park gets onboard the gentrification train in Season 19 as the real estate around Kenny’s house is gentrified and rebranded as SodoSopa, and “the sh*tty part of town” is gentrified and rebranded as Shi Tpa Town.

The gravity with which the townspeople treat the arrival of the Whole Foods committee is so delightfully absurd. And once the Whole Foods is open, the mood of the town starts to shift. They eventually have to let the Whole Foods go, and it ascends into the clouds like an angel.

3 WORST: ADS INFILTRATE SOUTH PARK

The main problem with the ad storyline is that it went beyond being a satirical metaphor and just became a ridiculous series of events. After ads were personified in a parody of Ex Machina and, somehow, PC Principal was one of them — just to dovetail the season’s two concurrent storylines in time for the season finale — the season stopped being an insightful critique of political correctness and sneaky advertising.

It just became an awkward mix of the two, like jamming two jigsaw pieces into each other that don’t fit together.

2 BEST: A “CASUAL” ATTITUDE TO SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

In the Season 22 premiere “Dead Kids,” South Park Elementary becomes the site of regular school shootings. And as long as their kid wasn’t the shooter and survived the ordeal, the parents of South Park don’t seem to care.

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All throughout the rest of the season, gunshots can be heard in the background of otherwise run-of-the-mill classroom scenes. The town’s casualness towards weekly occurrences of school shootings mirrors society’s own alarmingly lax attitude towards these disasters in a really eye-opening way.

1 WORST: MEMBER BERRIES

At first, the “member berries” were a funny idea. They’re a visual metaphor for nostalgia. J.J. Abrams uses them to drug his audiences with intertextual references in his big-screen reboots.

However, as the season went on and they were tied to the Presidential election, it didn’t really land. Blaming nostalgia for the current media landscape is sound logic, but blaming it for the political climate was a bit of stretch.

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