Fandom: South Park
Pairing: Stan Marsh/Kyle Broflovski
Word Count: ~7,800
Spoilers: Seasons 1-12 and South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut.
Notes: Thanks to Willow and Loomy for their help and to Crys for the beta. Episode quotes taken from TwizTV.
South Park premiered on August 13, 1997, to much controversy, parental panicking, and general hubbub. I believe at one point the show was called "the end of democracy." Twelve years and eight Emmy nominations later, the show still causes controversy, but with three Emmys on its collective shelf, Matt Stone and Trey Parker are laughing all the way to the bank. And while the show began as what can only be called random shock humor, it has since evolved into clever satire on American politics and society.
The show takes place in the town of South Park, Colorado, and centers on four boys (arguably five in the later seasons, counting Butters Stotch): Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick. Of these four, Stan and Kyle are the two main characters, and the two best friends.
In the earlier seasons, Stan and Kyle seem nearly indistinguishable personality-wise. Their biggest difference is that Stan has already developed an interest in girls (namely, Wendy Testaburger) while Kyle has not. However, in later seasons, the characters have become more developed, and thus while the two boys remain best friends with a lot in common, they have each grown into their own person.
Stan is loosely based on and voiced by series co-creator, writer, director, actor, singer, songwriter, and generally awesome guy, Trey Parker. He's eight years old when the series begins and turns nine at some point after the episode "Fourth Grade."
Stan is the only son of Randy and Sharon Marsh, and the younger brother of Shelley, who takes out all her pre-teen aggression on him via physical and verbal abuse. His family is Roman Catholic for most of the series' run, though they briefly convert to Mormonism in "All About the Mormons?" and become atheists in "Red Hot Catholic Love."
Stan is shown to be the more skeptical of the boys, such as in the episode "The Biggest Douche in the Universe," when Kyle is ready to believe John Edwards really talked to his dead grandma, who wants him to go to Jewliard. However, Stan is also arguably more religious than the other boys. Though Kyle's religion is the one most referenced (mostly via insults by Eric Cartman), Stan is the one who seems more genuinely compelled by his religion. Countless times on the show he seeks Jesus's advice ("Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride"), prays for Jesus's assistance ("Fantastic Easter Special"), or argues in favor of God's existence ("Go God Go"). While this might seem to contradict Stan's skepticism, one must remember that since this is South Park, Christ—and even God himself in one episode, during which Stan spoke to him directly—walks among the townsfolk, so Stan actually has proof.
Stan is also shown to be an animal lover (although luckily not to the point PETA apparently takes it within the South Park universe—see "Douche and Turd" for more info on that particular topic), a loyal friend, and is often depicted to be the leader of the group.
Oh, and he's completely in love with Kyle. But we'll get to that later.
- Sidenote on Stan and Wendy
- From the pilot all the way through the current season, Stan has had a consistent love interest in Wendy Testaburger. His affection for her is even his motivation for his actions in the theatrical movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut. They are a couple throughout the first seven seasons of the show, although they are shown together with increasing infrequency until finally, Wendy breaks up with him in season 7, episode 14, "Raisins." The two later get back together in season 11, episode 14, "The List," but it should be noted that even then, the entire episode is about Stan trying to help out Kyle—which is what prompts him to start speaking to Wendy again in the first place.
I address this now because in order for Stan and Kyle to work as a pairing, one must deal with the reality of Wendy. Wendy is a smart, independent girl whom I genuinely like as a character. In a world without Kyle, I deeply believe Stan would stay with her through high school, marry her, and they would live together in South Park with their two lovely fictional children for the rest of their lives. I won't deny that Stan actually has feelings for her, or that she has feelings for him—or for that matter, that she was sincerely sorry for the events in "Raisins."
But that is a world without Kyle—a world in which Wendy is the person Stan cares about the most. But this isn't that world. There is a Kyle and Stan cares for him more than he ever could for Wendy—a point which I will address later in this manifesto.
Also, series co-creator Trey Parker said in an interview with Mr. Showbiz in 1998, that the fact that Stan was "more in touch with love than" the other boys made it more likely that Stan would grow up to be gay. By that logic, Stan's relationship with Wendy will eventually lead to his coming out. And hey, it's straight from the co-creator's mouth. You really can't argue with that.
Kyle is loosely based on and voiced by series co-creator, occasional writer (mostly un-credited), extremely rare director, actor, musician, former math prodigy, and otherwise fantastic specimen of humanity, Matt Stone. He's nine years old as of "Casa Bonita" (one would assume, since the episode centers around Cartman trying to hijack his birthday party) and he comes from a Jewish family—often being addressed by those who don't know him well as, "the little Jewish boy." His parents are Gerald and Sheila Broflovski, and he has a four year-old adopted Canadian brother, Ike.
For the first few seasons, the biggest difference between Kyle and Stan (other than Stan's interest in girls) was Kyle's religion. Jews being extremely rare in South Park, his Judaism made him feel left out (he even has a song about being a "Lonely Jew on Christmas"). It also made him the butt of the bulk of Cartman's jokes and, as the series progressed, his full-on anti-Semitism. Growing up like this left Kyle defensive of himself, his family, and their religion—consequently making him extremely quick to anger. From the very beginning, Kyle has been second only to Cartman in terms of his temper. It's understandable, though, when one considers what growing up in constant defensiveness must've done to him.
Kyle also shares Stan's skepticism, even being more skeptical than Stan himself in certain episodes ("Trapped in the Closet" is a good example), but he also has been shown to be easily-swayed in certain instances. He easily converts to Blainetology in "Super Best Friends" and sticks with the cult longer than Stan does (ironic, considering that Blainetology was a metaphor for Scientology and Stan later let himself be duped into leading them) and Christianity in "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?" and "Probably" (if, in fact, that can be called Christianity, given that it was run by Eric Cartman), showing that he is able to be swayed, usually easier than Stan.
Kyle is also known to get better grades than the other boys—even singing about how he likes studying in "Elementary School Musical." And it is his intelligence that leads to Kyle's one and only canonical love interest thus far in the series.
- Sidenote on Kyle and Girls
- Kyle has been given exactly one love interest in the course of the series, and it happens during the episode "Hooked on Monkey Phonics." Kyle competes in the South Park spelling bee against two home-schooled siblings, one of whom is a nervous girl named Rebecca (who, oddly, reminds me strikingly of Butters). Kyle becomes smitten and tries to talk to the girl, but having never been socialized with other children, Rebecca lacks the social skills needed to form a connection to Kyle and unintentionally rebuffs his advances. For example, when Kyle tries to serenade her by playing a guitar outside of her window, she simply throws him some money, as though he were someone playing on the street for donations.
Kyle is persistent, however, and finally gets Rebecca alone. He explains relationships to her and states that he'd like to kiss her. Rebecca admits that she, too, is curious, and they share a quick kiss. Rebecca enjoys it, and the next time Kyle sees her, she has taken her newfound liberation too far, dressing like "a god damned whore" and kissing every boy in sight. Kyle is heartbroken and everyone learns a lesson about how home-schooling deprives children of social skills and doesn't teach them how to behave in society.
And Rebecca is never seen or heard from again. Kyle doesn't even mention her.
The only other time Kyle shows an interest in girls is in "Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society," when he and the other boys all turn caveman-like over the fact that Bebe has started to grow breasts. However, he has previously shown he has no interest in Bebe as a person or romantic interest (for example in "Clubhouses") and at the end of the episode, all the boys decide not to let girls come between them.
So. In twelve seasons, Kyle has shown interest in heterosexuality exactly twice, and neither panned out very well. Does this mean he's gay? Only Matt Stone and Trey Parker know that. But for the purposes of this essay, I'm going to speculate that based on the evidence, he's at the very least bisexual with a preference for men.
It would be nearly impossible for me to list every single Stan/Kyle interaction that leads me to ship them. It's been twelve seasons and they're best friends; there's a moment of shippiness in nearly every episode and the prospect of catching them all is nearly impossible. However, there are certain interactions that stand out, and even certain episodes dedicated nearly entirely to their relationship, and so those are the ones I will focus on. As such, I'll start at the beginning and work my way through the seasons, going in chronological order.
- • Prehistoric Ice Man
- Until this episode, very little is made of Stan and Kyle's relationship. They're best friends, yes, but it's never really a point. It's just something in the background for us to know. However, in this episode, Stan and Kyle have their very first serious fight, and it lasts the entire episode.
The boys find a "prehistoric" man frozen in the ice (really just a guy who went missing in 1996) and argue over what to name him. Kyle wants to name him Steve, while Stan wants to call him Gorack. The boys continue to fight over his name, and over who, in fact, found him, and it leads to them both announcing that they don't want the other to be their best friend anymore. They both decide Cartman is their new best friend, but both later confess they hate him.
Their conflict escalates to the point of the two of them deciding to have a physical fight "to the death," and scheduling it for that afternoon. As the two boys help Steve/Gorack/Larry (as is actually his name) escape the government, they realize it's time for their fight and awkwardly begin.
As a side note, I suppose it's just a drawback of the animation technique used on South Park, but if one were to turn the sound off and watch that fight, it looks like they're rolling on the ground and kissing. In fact, have a clip.
However, that aside (I really won't count that as a moment of shippiness, given that it's just a result of the fabulously cheap animation style South Park uses), the episode ends with the boys realizing that they can't let petty things come between them anymore and rejecting Cartman as their best friend, deciding to become best friends themselves once again. The day is saved and our boys are reunited, having survived the first test of their friendship.
- • Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub
- The reason I'm including this episode isn't necessarily because of an interaction between Stan and Kyle. In fact, Kyle isn't even present in the episode until the very last scene. I include it because of a bit of dialog by Randy, Stan's father:
Well, it would be good for you to make new friends. You can't just hang out with your buddy Kyle all the time. People will think you guys are, you know, funny.
The fact that Stan's own father would say this is highly indicative of how close Stan and Kyle are, and what, in Randy's opinion, they could become.
- • Cherokee Hair Tampons
- In this episode, Kyle becomes gravely ill, and as can be expected, his mother royally fucks up taking care of him.
Kyle has diabetes—a fact that will never be referenced again—and his kidneys have begun to shut down. While Kyle's mother turns to holistic medicine to cure him, Stan seeks the help of the local doctor, who insists that Kyle needs a kidney transplant. Stan becomes distraught as his attempts to help Kyle are rebuffed by his mother, even breaking down into tears at the thought of losing Kyle. Demonstrating Stan's connection to Kyle over other people in his life, during several scenes, Kenny becomes increasingly angry at Stan for not caring when he dies, but being so upset over Kyle's illness.
Stan: Nobody wants to listen, Kenny.
Kenny: (I know.)
Stan: I don't know what else to do. I mean, he could die, Kenny. And that means we'd never see him again.
Kenny: (Uh huh.)
Stan: I guess maybe I've always taken friends for granted, like they'd always be there. If a friend died, I don't know what I'd do. [Kenny gets mad, Stan gets resolute] Well, I'm not just gonna stand here and watch my friend die. Kenny, go round up all the kids in town who want to help Kyle! Round them up and meet me at the bus stop at 7:30! Kyle's gonna live! [walks away]
Stan: [despondent, voice cracking] There's nothing more I can do, Kenny. I've tried everything to save Kyle. Holistic medicine is gonna kill my friend!
Kenny: (Well uh, nobody seems to care when I die on them!)
Stan: [sobs] My friend is gonna die! He's gonna die and there's nothing I can do about it. [begins to break down] Oh, God, he's my best friend… [weeps]
Kenny: [stands up] (Well now, that does it! I have had enough of this bullshit! Screw you, Stan. I'm going home!) [walks away. Above him, a man is hauling a piano, but realizes the ropes are tearing]
Mover: Look out! [the piano snaps from the ropes and crushes Kenny] Oops.
Stan: [without even acknowledging Kenny's death] Awgh! I'll never see Kyle again! [weeps]
Finally, the holistic medicine merchant is exposed as a liar and Mrs. Broflovski is ready to get Kyle a kidney transplant. Stan offers to give Kyle one of his kidneys, but unfortunately the only match in town is Eric Cartman.
Dr. Doctor: Alright, Stanley, I'm going to be very honest with you. Your little friend Kyle needs a kidney transplant. Or it is very possible that… he will die.
Stan: [overwhelmed] Die? But… Kyle's my best friend. In the whole world.
Dr. Doctor: I know this is a lot to lay on someone your age, but… the rest of the town is so gung-ho in New Age medicine that I have nowhere else to turn.
Stan: I'll give Kyle my kidney, even if it hurts a whole lot; I don't care!
Dr. Doctor: That's very brave, Stan, but I've already checked my records, and you and Kyle aren't a match for kidneys. In fact, [looks at a sheet of paper] there's only one person in South Park with the same blood type as Kyle.
[Dr. Doctor turns the sheet around, and Cartman's picture is on it. A close-up reveals that Cartman has AB-negative blood]
Stan: Oh, shit.
Stan orchestrates a plot to get Cartman to sign a release form so that the doctor can do the transplant, thus saving Kyle. When Kyle wakes up, Stan is at his bedside, ready to be really, really cute. Observe:
Kyle: Hey, thanks for going through all that to save my life, Stan.
Stan: Dude, you're my best friend. I don't want you to die until I do.
- • Super Best Friends
- As I mentioned earlier, this episode centers on the boys joining the cult of Blainetology and Stan being the only one with enough skepticism to get out. He escapes, trying to take Kyle with him, but Kyle refuses:
Stan: Okay, it's all clear. [exits with Kyle]
Kyle: What are we doing?
Stan: We're getting out of here. This whole thing has gotten way out of hand.
Kyle: Whoa whoa, I'm not going anywhere.
Stan: Come on, Kyle, this is stupid!
Kyle: It's not stupid, Stan. For once in my life I feel like I'm part of something.
Stan: A part of what? Some gaywad magician's crazy life plan?
Kyle: Don't call Mr. Blaine a gaywad! He's a brilliant man.
Stan: No, they just convinced you that he's a brilliant man! Let's go!
Kyle: I'm not going anywhere!
Stan: Now look, dude, I'm getting out of here, and you're a dumbass if you don't come back with me!
Kyle: Then I guess... I'm a dumbass. [turns and walks back to his room. Stan turns back to face the hall and watches Kyle walk away]
Stan: Kyle, please. You— You're my best friend.
Kyle: Well, this is what I believe in now, Stan. And if you can't respect that...then I guess we're not best friends anymore. [opens the door to his room and walks in. Stan looks, then turns towards the exit and walks out]
The rest of the episode, Stan seeks to save Kyle. After seeking Jesus's help and learning of the existence of the Super Best Friends (a group of many religions' leaders who work together and are friends), Stan arrives in Washington D.C. to try and stop Kyle from killing himself with the other Blainetologists. However, Kyle doesn't want to kill himself—he's been trapped in a glass dome by Cartman that is rapidly filling with water. Stan finds Kenny dead and begins the show's catchphrase: "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" Kyle, never one to let the phrase go unfinished (except in "Prehistoric Ice Man," when he simply informed Stan that they weren't speaking to each other), replies, "You bastards!" Stan uses the phrase Marco Polo-style to find Kyle, and to free him from the dome.
Kyle is finally freed and the day is saved. As the boys stand together, Cartman implies that there's more between the boys than just friendship.
Kyle: Thanks for saving us, Stan. You're my Super Best Friend.
Stan: You're my Super Best Friend too, Kyle.
Cartman: Oh, that's so sweet, you guys. You wanna go get a room so you can make out for a while?
- • Asspen
- This episode is a bit...odd in that it parodies 1980s sports films and things make no sense. Things like a twenty-something skier suddenly becoming obsessed with the idea that Stan is his arch nemesis and challenging him to a race, despite the fact that Stan is only just learning how to ski and has zero interest in either the skier's girl, the "dorky but hot girl" who wants to save the youth center, or racing him. Things get even wackier when Stan suddenly becomes interested in beating Tad, the skier, and saving the teen center for the nerdy-hot girl.
Really, this episode makes little to no sense. But Kyle worries about Stan in an entirely too-precious manner so it's important.
As you can tell from my episode summary, Stan, through the plot device of, "Well, just go with it—it's a parody," ends up agreeing to race Tad, an expert skier, on a huge-ass hill when he's only just started to learn to ski. Fresh off of Kenny's "permanent" death, Kyle can't bear the thought of Stan risking his life. He tries to convince Stan not to participate, but Stan insists.
Kyle: Look, Stan. When Kenny died I learned how important friends are. I'm not gonna lose another friend.
Stan: This isn't about you, Kyle. I have to do this, okay? I have to!
Kyle continues to worry while Stan trains for the race. It's kind of adorable. Have a picture.
Kyle even becomes so distraught that he can't watch the race:
Kyle: I can't lose another friend. First Kenny and now Stan? All I'm gonna have left are [Cartman and Butters]. [...] Aw, dude, I can't look. [closes his eyes and covers them with his hands]
Stan wins the race, the boys decide skiing sucks, and we get to see that it's not just Stan who worries about Kyle. It actually goes both ways and the feelings are reciprocated.
- • Fun With Veal
- In this episode, the boys, led by Stan, decide to take down the veal industry because of the abuses to calves. However, while Kyle, Butters, and Cartman continue to eat other kinds of meat, Stan decides to become a full-on vegetarian. This leads him to contract a bad case of "vaginitis" because according to the show, if you stop eating meat, then you become a giant pussy. As Stan's condition deteriorates, Kyle takes care of him.
This episode further proves the point that Kyle cares for Stan as much as Stan has been shown to care for him, as well as demonstrating that Kyle is Stan's biggest supporter.
Kyle: So what happens now?
Stan: I'm gonna lock myself in here with these cows until we have a guarantee of their safety, in writing.
Kyle: We're with you, dude.
Kyle: Dude, are you okay?
Stan: Aw, I just feel so rundown. I don't know what's wrong with me. I've got these sores. [lifts up his shirt to show the sores to the others]
Butters: What is that?
Kyle: Dude, maybe we should end this.
Stan's getting worse, you guys.
Kyle: [rushes to Stan] Stan! It worked!
Stan: [looking very weak and with a few more sores on his body] It... did?
Kyle: They got us a truck, and an airplane, and Mr. Worf! The calves are gonna be okay!
Stan: Pick me up. I... I want to see. [Kyle picks him up]
Stan, we're almost there. You've got to hold on.
Do you hear that, Stan? It worked! We've shut down the veal industry!
Stan is taken to the hospital and promises to go back to eating meat in the future, while the veal industry is destroyed. And sure, the boys get grounded for being "terrorists," but at least Kyle fretted over his BFF for most of an episode.
- • It's Christmas in Canada
Here we can see that Stan and Kyle sleep leaning against each other, while Cartman and Kenny sleep leaning away from each other. This reinforces the idea that Stan and Kyle are more comfortable with being physically affectionate with each other than other boys their age.
- • Follow That Egg!
- This is one of those rare but amazing episodes where Stan and Kyle's relationship is front and center for the bulk of the show. While there are always moments of connection, very rarely does subtext become text quite like this.
The episode centers on Mrs. Garrison finding out that her ex, Mr. Slave, plans to marry Big Gal Al when Colorado legalizes same-sex marriage on Saturday. She becomes jealous and decides to stop the bill from passing, and uses her fourth grade class as pawns in her plan by turning their "egg as baby" project into a pseudo-scientific study on whether or not homosexual couples can raise a baby.
The episode begins with the class being paired into male/female groups. Stan reveals to Kenny that he doesn't want to be paired with Wendy because he hasn't spoken to her since their breakup, but it's not Stan who gets paired with Wendy; it's Kyle. Stan becomes jealous and resentful that his best friend and his ex are "raising an egg" together, and angrily calls Kyle to lash out at him.
Kyle: Hello? Oh, hey, dude.
Stan: So, what are you and Wendy doing?
Kyle: Oh, we're just makin' a cradle out of an egg carton for our egg. We figure that way it'll be easier to keep safe so we can get an A.
Stan: Uh huh...
Kyle: I don't think it's gonna be that hard to keep it from breaking. This whole assignment is stupid.
Stan: Yeah, well, so is your hat!
Garrison then decides to switch the couples, putting Wendy and Bebe together as a couple, and Stan and Kyle. Her logic is that if either couple fails to turn the egg in at the end of the week in good condition, then she will have proved that same-sex couples can't raise a baby.
Yes, her logic is as flawed as it sounds. But Stan and Kyle are now a couple, so roll with it.
And so the couples are split, leaving Stan still pissed off over having to raise the egg Kyle conceived with another woman. Yeah. It's seriously that gay.
Kyle: Okay, there. Now we can carry this egg around in this case without it getting cracked.
Stan: All right. Give it to me. I'll take it home tonight.
Kyle: Look, Stan, you want me to just take care of this egg?
Stan: Why do you say that?
Kyle: It's just that...I really need this A, Stan. And Bebe did say you almost broke your last egg.
Stan: That's because I was pissed off!
Kyle: At who?
Their conversation is interrupted by Wendy arriving, begging to see her egg. Kyle gently rebuffs her by putting his arm around her, which Stan then sees. Wendy finally leaves, but Kyle is in even bigger trouble with Stan when he returns to the kitchen. Kyle, however, remains completely oblivious as to why Stan is upset with him.
Stan: You think you're so great, don't you? Well, guess what? Maybe I don't need your help! I'm taking the egg home tonight, and I'm gonna show everybody tomorrow that I'm every bit as good a egg-take-care-of-er as you! [he leaves]
Kyle: What the hell is wrong with everybody?
Stan succeeds in keeping the egg safe overnight, causing Garrison to panic that her experiment might not turn out the way she'd hoped. She decides she needs to intervene in the experiment by hiring an assassin to take out Stan and Kyle's egg so that she can prove two men make bad parents.
The final day of the project, Kyle calls Stan to let him know that Garrison is taking them to the governor's office to do the final egg-check there. Stan is still bitter.
Kyle: Garrison is taking us all on a field trip today. He wants to do the final egg check in front of the Governor's office!
Stan: Governor's office?
Kyle: He's really taking this grade seriously, Stan. I'm gonna come over so that we can take our egg to school together, all right?
Stan: Ah, you'd like that, wouldn't you? I took care of this egg, Kyle, not you!
Kyle: Okay, Stan, you've been an asshole to me all week! What is up?
Stan: What's up? Oh, nothing except that you've been trying to impress Wendy all week long like a pathetic dickhole!
Kyle: Impress Wendy?
Stan: You've set it all up to look like you're this awesome prince and I'm just a loser!
Kyle: What the hell are you talking about?
The assassin then succeeds in killing their egg and Kyle rushes to Stan's side.
Kyle: Stan? Stan, I think we should talk.
Stan: [softly crying, muffled] Dude, you should just go be with Wendy and be happy.
Kyle: Stan, I don't like Wendy. [Stan's raises his head and listens] All I cared about was getting an A in this stupid project!
Stan: Yeah, well, I blew it. Now we're gonna fail and Wendy thinks I'm a total loser.
Kyle: [angrily] I thought you didn't care about Wendy anymore.
Stan: I don't. She's totally lame. [he drops his head into his arms again.]
Kyle: Stan, there was never anything between Wendy and I. [Stan's raises his head again] I wouldn't go out with my best friend's ex-girlfriend.
Stan: [hops off his chair and approaches Kyle, head down] I'm sorry I didn't trust you, Kyle. I'm obviously just a crappy best friend to have.
Kyle: Yeah, well, I—I'm sorry I didn't trust you either.
Kyle: [turns away and walks a few paces] It was really important for me to get an A, Stan. And Bebe said you were so reckless with your egg, so I made a fake one for you [reaches into his jacket and pulls out an egg] and kept the original safe with me.
Stan: That... [walks up to Kyle and points at the egg] That's the real egg with Garrison's signature?
Kyle: Yeah dude. I'm sorry.
Stan: Then... then Wendy won't think I'm a total loser!
Kyle: Yeah. And I can still get my A!
Stan: Come on, buddy, let's go! [walks happily towards his door. Kyle steps forward, then stops]
Kyle: Stan... [Stan turns, then Kyle turns away] Do you really think my hat is stupid?
Stan: [walks back and puts his left hand on Kyle's shoulder] As a matter of fact...I think it is the nicest hat I've ever known.
The two boys make up, they reach the stage in time to present their un-harmed egg to the crowd, and gay marriage is legalized in South Park. Because of Stan and Kyle.
And almost as if to cement the fact in our minds that Stan never wanted Wendy back*, the episode ends with the following:
Wendy: Stan, I'm sorry I doubted you. You really made a great dad.
Stan: Like I give a crap about what you think, Wendy.
So to briefly summarize this episode, Stan becomes angry and jealous over Kyle being paired with someone else and then resents having to raise the egg Kyle created with another woman while they were separated. They then reunite and together are able to be good parents to their egg. And because of them, gay marriage becomes legal in South Park.
Let's just all take a second to deal with the "subtext is rapidly becoming text"-ness of that. Okay. Moving on.
* = As we saw later in "The List," the signal that Stan had feelings for her again is/was that he vomits in her presence, as he did during their original relationship. Since he never vomits around her in this episode, we can presume that his, "I don't have feelings for her," speeches are genuine.
- • The Return of Chef
- I would be remiss if I didn't include this episode for one simple reason. During the opening montage, a narrator informs us that "previously on South Park" Chef decided to leave the town in order to join the Super Adventure Club. And then this happens:
Why, yes. That is Stan and Kyle cuddling by the lake at sunset.
- • Smug Alert!
- In this episode, Kyle's parents decide that they can no longer live in a town like South Park and must move to where people are more progressive—AKA San Francisco. Kyle doesn't want to leave, and Stan doesn't want him to, either, but unfortunately, Kyle's father just isn't listening. Stan swears to get Kyle back and decides to convince everyone in South Park to start driving hybrid cars so that the Broflovskis can move back.
Stan: Kyle! Dude, what is going on?
Kyle: My dad says he can't live here anymore.
Stan: Mr. Broflovski, please. Kyle's my best friend.
Gerald: I'm sorry, Stan, but unfortunately you live in a small-minded town filled with ignorant boobs.
Stan: Well... Maybe they'll change.
Gerald: I wouldn't count on it. Come on, boys, get in the car!
Gerald: Maybe you can make a difference, Stan. Maybe you can get everyone to drive hybrid cars. Until that day, we're just gonna have to be with our own kind.
Stan: I will. I will get everyone to drive hybrid cars! I swear it!
Stan then writes a song about driving hybrid cars and soon everyone in South Park begins to drive them. However, they also become self-righteous, smug assholes, and so a cloud of smug begins to near the city, threatening them with a smug storm of self-satisfaction. Stan tries to leave so he can go get Kyle out of San Francisco, which is going to be hit harder than South Park. However, he is forced to stay in town while he frets about Kyle's safety.
Cartman, having realized that without Kyle around to make fun of, his life is empty, braves San Francisco to save Kyle anonymously. Kyle and the other Broflovskis get out, and our boys are reunited. Once again showing that they are more comfortable with physical intimacy than other boys their age, they reunite with a hug:
- • Guitar Queer-o
- This is another episode where Stan and Kyle's relationship is put front and center. The episode centers on the game Guitar Hero, which Stan and Kyle are very good at. They become so good that they're signed by a manager and taken to "sex and coke parties," like they were real rockstars. But fame tears them apart and we see how much they need each other.
Things are going fine for the boys until the manager takes Stan aside and tells him Kyle is holding him back.
Manager: As for your friend, well, to be honest, I think he's holding you back.
Stan: What, you mean, Kyle?
Manager: Look, you score a lot higher than him; there's no question who the better one is. I wanna put you with some other players, find a partner for you who can really help you max your score.
Stan: But, Kyle and I always play together. We both chipped in for the game system.
Nonetheless, Stan allows himself to be swayed, and Kyle catches Stan playing with his replacement.
Stan: Kyle...I, I thought you were sick.
Kyle: [walks up to Stan] Who is this?
Stan: This is um, Thad Jarvis.
Kyle: Ahem, wha—? What's going on, Stan?
Stan: Kyle, I was gonna tell you later. Mr. Kincaid thinks I should play with Thad for a while.
Kyle: But it's our game. We bought it together.
Stan: I know, and, and I wanna be fair about it, so, I'll buy you out of your part.
Kyle: Buy me out? What are you saying? What makes you so high and mighty you can buy me out?
Stan: Don't put this all on me, Kyle! [...] You were the one that's been blowing off playing after midnight, not playing 'cause you were sick—
Kyle: I have been sick!
Stan: Look, the point is I'm never gonna break a million points playing with you! You know that's true!
Kyle: I guess I didn't realize it was just about the points.
Kyle is heartbroken and soon finds himself at Mick's Lanes drinking Frescas to ease his pain. Mick takes pity on him and allows Kyle to play the Guitar Hero machine there for free. His playing quickly becomes popular and he develops a following among the bowling alley patrons. It's no longer the fame and fortune he thought he'd have at the beginning of the episode, but he's respected by those around him—and he even gets free Frescas!
Meanwhile, Stan is stressed out about the pressure being put on him by his manager, and he allows the local game store clerk to sell him a game called Heroin Hero. Stan quickly becomes addicted to playing Heroin Hero and becomes angry and out of shape, and soon is reduced to lying on the couch, drooling on himself, and missing gigs and practices.
Stan's downward spiral finally ends with him firing his new partner, showing up exhausted and shirtless to his gig to break a million points, and vomiting on the floor. His manager dumps him and he's left, broken and alone.
But as often happens, one must hit rock bottom before one can see the error of their ways, and Stan finally wises up to the fact that he should never have left Kyle via a montage of him and Kyle playing together happily set to, "Carry On My Wayward Son," by Kansas.
Stan seeks Kyle out at the bowling alley, but he's got some explaining to do first, since Kyle is still wounded from the betrayal.
Kyle is playing "I Remember You" by Skid Row on Guitar Hero when Stan approaches him and begs his forgiveness:
Woke up to the sound of pouring rain
The wind would whisper and I'd think of you
And all the tears you cried, that called my name
And when you needed me I came through
The song continues to play as the boys make up:
Stan: Kyle, could I just talk to you for like five minutes?
Kyle: What are you doing here?
I paint a picture of the days gone by
Stan: Please, it won't take long.
Kyle: Goddamnit. We're gonna take a short break. Be back in five.
When love went blind and you would make me see.
Stan: I was listening to you for a while. Dude, you've gotten a lot better.
I'd stare a lifetime into your eyes
Kyle: Oh, thank you! I was so eagerly awaiting your approval of my abilities!
So that I knew you were there for me
Stan: Look, Kyle, the game is still set up at my house and maybe we could go try playing it again over there.
Kyle: Oh, so the gallant knight now comes to rescue me from the bowels of mediocrity! Oh, thank you, your royal lordship!
Time after time you were there for me
Stan: That isn't it at all.
Remember yesterday - walking hand in hand
Kyle: You don't get it, Stan! I can play here all I want. I even get free Frescas. I don't need you anymore!
Love letters in the sand - I remember you
Stan: I know. I need you. [Kyle glances over his shoulder, then turns around to face Stan] I thought I was having a great time because I was getting signed by managers and going to big sex and coke parties, but then I realized, I was having fun because I was doing all that... [turns around and face Kyle] ...with my best friend.
Kyle: It was pretty fun, wasn't it?
Stan: [awkwardly] Yeah.
Kyle: [turns away; then, testing Stan] Look, I doubt we could break a million together anyway.
Stan: I don't care. I'd just like to play with you again. For the fun of it.
Kyle: I don't really see the fun in... [turns around with determination in his eyes] ...not trying to kick that game's ass once and for all!
Stan: What, you mean it?
Kyle: I think we can do it, Stan. I've been close to a million a few times by myself.
Stan: [pats Kyle on the shoulder] Then let's go, dude!
The two boys head back to Stan's house and together, they are able to break a million points. The game then declares: "You. Are. FAGS!"
I really won't touch the validity (or non-validity) of that statement.
But once again, we are shown that Stan and Kyle are stronger together than apart, and seriously. The song choice for their make up scene? I don't think there's a way to argue with that.
- • The China Probrem
- The China Probrem has two plots: the first being the one referenced in the title, where Cartman drags Butters into his racism because of the grandeur of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The second plot, however, is the one that will be covered in this essay, in which Stan, Kyle, and the other boys in South Park become distraught over having seen a friend raped that summer. (It later turns out that the friend is actually Indiana Jones.) Kyle is upset more than any of them, and frequently turns to Stan for emotional support. And it eventually leads to one of the best moments a Style-shipper ever could've hoped for.
Kyle decides to go to the police to try and get Lucas and Spielberg arrested for raping Indiana Jones, and he sobs as he speaks to the prosecutor alone.
Kyle: I know that I'll have to testify. That I'll have to relive what I saw that day. But I can't let Spielberg and Lucas get away with it. Not this time. Even if I have to do it alone.
Stan: You aren't alone. [he, Jimmy, Clyde, and Kenny enter the room]
Stan: We'll all testify. We can't ever let them do this again.
He and Kyle begin to sob and, once again showing that they're more comfortable with physical affection than the other boys, they immediately embrace each other.
And then, as the boys sob in each other's arms...
Stan: I love you.
Kyle: I love you, too.
Yes. They said that. At nine years old, when most boys are trying to act too tough to be affectionate with anyone, male or female, family or friend...Stan and Kyle are hugging and saying, "I love you," to each other.
Do I think Stan and Kyle, at nine years old, are actually aware of the fact that they have feelings for each other? No. They're nine. Sure, they're extremely mature for being nine years old, but they're still nine. They're just not old enough yet to figure that out.
The real question is will they? And my answer is yes.
I've been watching South Park since I was twelve and Stan and Kyle's friendship has always been a huge part of why I watched. Yes, it's funny. Yes, the satire is clever. Yes, I've spent the last ten years sitting here nodding along with the message of each episode and wondering why no one else seems to understand. But what keeps me coming back week after week is the relationship between Stan and Kyle. While I may not have understood it as I do now back when I was twelve, they have always been the main draw for me.
Now that I'm older and have had time to think about the episodes and draw my own conclusions, I can't help but envision a future in which Kyle comes out during high school and he and Stan finally realize that their affection for each other goes deeper than friendship. Certainly it's possible that they really are just friends, but none of the other boys on the show openly hug each other in public places and say, "I love you," to each other, and I choose to believe that they really mean it; they just haven't reached the age where they can realize it yet.
- Fic Recs
- Nasal Strips
Omusubi | Stan/Kyle | K+
Kyle had a habit of thinking Stan was perfect, but we all make mistakes from time to time.
This is a wonderfully sweet snapshot of the boys in college without being overly saccharine. Very cute.
- A Brief Scuffle Between Pitcher and Catcher
Seaouryou | Stan/Kyle | T
The first real fight Stan and Kyle got into was when they were discussing who would be on top if they were, completely hypothetically, a gay couple.
This is a seriously funny fic in which the hypothetical argument turns not so hypothetical after all. It feels so very Stan and Kyle that I can see it in my head when I read it.
- Psychic BS
Brat-Child3 | Stan/Kyle, Cartman/Wendy, Kenny/Butters | T
Cartman believes he's a psychic, Kyle thinks he's full of it. To prove his abilities, he begins making predictions about Stan and Kyle's relationship. When they come true, Kyle has to rethink Cartmans predictions, and his relationship with Stan.
This is at times hilarious, at times heartbreaking, and always very compelling. A rare gem that can pull off my three favorite ships in one fic and make me love all three of them equally.
- Life is Better Under a Totalitarian Regime
Seaouryou | Stan/Kyle, Cartman/Wendy | T
The entire school student body appears to be suffering under the delusion that Stan is dating Kyle. Stan is determined to prove them wrong. Unfortunately, he seems to be proving them right.
The whole "everyone thinks they're gay" cliché has been overdone not only in the South Park fandom, but in most other fandoms, as well. However, this particular one still manages to be thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, and funny as hell. Kenny is particularly funny in this—his musings on what Hell is really like are not to be missed. Recommended whole-heartedly.
- Tell That Jew He Just Made My List of Things To Do Today
couldbeyourlife | Cartman/Kyle, Stan/Kyle, Stan/Butters | PG-13
Let’s play this game called “when you catch fire” / I wouldn’t piss to put you out; or "Obviously, Kyle wasn’t going to give up his Jew gold easily."
I hesitated to rec this, not because it isn't amazing; it is. The reason for my hesitation is that the story is told from Kyle and Cartman's points of view, and features a good dose of unrequited Cartman/Kyle. However, in the end, it was too good for me not to rec, and despite the C/K, I promise that Style shippers won't be disappointed.
And in case you ever get really desperate...
- My Future's Bound
Myself | Stan/Kyle, Kenny/Butters, Stan/Wendy, Kyle/OMC | NC-17 | Underage (characters are 16-17)
Stan and Kyle accidentally have phone sex while playing the newest MMORPG craze. Afterwards, Kyle comes out while Stan tries to deny what he feels. Also, Ike is generally awesome.
Because self-pimping is all the rage these days?
- Nasal Strips
- Important Links and Communities
- South Park Studios
The official website of the show. Tons of features including behind-the-scenes blogs, pictures, and even featurettes months before they appear on the DVDs, as well as every single episode aired to date available for your free viewing pleasure.
A general community for the show.
Another general community.
An icon community.
A community of South Park slash.
Another slash community.
The Stan/Kyle specific community.
- South Park Studios
And don't forget to catch new episodes Wednesdays at 10:00 on Comedy Central! Season lucky 13 is airing right now!