South Park Finally Gave Liane Cartman A Win And We're All Here For It

Since the debut of "South Park" 25 years ago, the mother of the series' greatest villain, Eric Cartman, has existed without any real arc that didn't come at the expense of her own humanity. Liane Cartman is notably one of the only single parents in the town of South Park, Colorado, consistently doting on her sociopathic, bigoted child, and bending to his any and every desire. In the early seasons, Liane Cartman was portrayed as (and mocked) for being extremely sexually active, having appeared in "Crack Whore Magazine" and pornographic German scheisse films. The season 1 finale was titled "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut," where the entire story centers on trying to figure out who Cartman's biological father is, but it's difficult to determine because it's implied she slept with every eligible male in town and the entire Denver Broncos football team.

The season 2 episode "Cartman's Mom is Still a Dirty Slut" revealed she was intersex, making her Eric's mother and father. This belief was held for years, until the 14th season, when it was shown the Liane Cartman is a cisgender woman and the lie was part of a scheme to protect the Denver Broncos. Cartman's real father was former player Jack Tenorman, who Cartman had previously arranged to be killed, made into chili, and fed to his son Scott. Throughout it all, Liane has been shown to be a pushover, constantly controlled by her child regardless of his atrocious schemes. Cartman treats Liane like absolute garbage, verbally assaults her, manipulates her, and she's always just taken the abuse as if she deserved it.

Until now.

The truth of Liane Cartman

When Liane Cartman was first created, she was apparently named after the ex-fiance of show creator Trey Parker, who had apparently cheated on him in their personal relationship. This is why the earlier seasons show Liane Cartman in such a demeaning manner. As the years have gone on, Liane's more maternal side has been shown, which is apparently inspired by Parker's own mother. Liane and Eric Cartman have had a sordid relationship to say the least, and this isn't to say she hasn't tried to combat his horrific personality. 

In the season 10 episode "Tsst," Liane finally admits that Cartman is out of control and seeks the help of reality TV nannies, but the only person who actually makes any impact is Cesar Millan, "The Dog Whisperer." Unfortunately, after it seems like Cartman has changed for good, Liane immediately bends to his wants and desires when she realizes Cesar doesn't actually want to be her friend, he was just doing a job by training her child.

Due to her negative reputation in the community, and the fact her son is consistently the most hated person in the town, Liane Cartman doesn't have a lot of friends. She has developed a codependent relationship with her son, and she lets him get away with everything (including literal murder) because she's clearly terrified of being alone. Cartman is all she has, and she's willing to endure his endless barrage of mistreatment if it means someone, anyone in her life, loves her. But after 25 years of his crap, she's done. Everyone has their limit, and Liane has finally found hers.

The real estate episode

In "The Streaming Wars," the latest "South Park" movie for Paramount+, Liane has hit her breaking point. In the current season, Liane Cartman decided to pursue a career in the real estate business. For the first time in years, she's finally found a job that brings her joy, financial stability, and a sense of independence. Cartman hates that his mom has something to take her attention away from him, so he decides to break the real estate market. He founds his own company and makes flashy videos of the properties he's trying to sell, and Liane eventually quits her job because Eric wants her to. Unfortunately, this means they can no longer afford their home, and are forced to move into a hot dog shaped hot dog stand.

This is the start of Liane's acceptance that her coddling of Eric has gone too far. Eric whines and cries about living in the hot dog stand, and he demands that Liane get their home back, refusing to understand that the only reason they're in this mess is because he begged for her to quit her job. At the start of "The Streaming Wars," Eric sings a "Somewhere That's Green"-inspired song about wanting to leave the hot dog, and rather than bend over backward for him, Liane snaps at him, screaming about how she doesn't want to live there either. But it's all they could afford after Eric pushed her out of her career. Of course, Eric continues to make the situation about himself and completely disregards his mother's feelings, demanding that she get breast implants so she can attract a rich husband and become a trophy wife.

The implant situation

Liane establishes early on that she has no intention of getting breast implants, expressing that she's happy with her body. Even if she wanted them, they have no way to afford the surgery. Cartman then lies to his friends Stan, Kyle, Butters, Kenny, and Tolkien, who have developed their own money-making "streaming service," in the hopes they'll share their profits with him because "his mom has breast cancer and needs surgery." When the boys rally together and raise the funds, Eric blindfolds Liane and surprises her with a trip to the plastic surgeon. Liane puts her foot down and says she's not getting the implants, so Cartman threatens to get them himself, convinced that Liane will then buckle and do as he asks.

"I've given in to you too many times Eric," she says. "It stops now."

Cartman continues calling his mother's bluff, going so far as to actually get the implants himself. When Liane shows up to visit him after his surgery, he's shocked to discover she didn't actually stop the procedure, and instead let Eric go through with it. He now has the largest possible size breasts surgically implanted into his body. For the first time in 25 years, the most underutilized and one-note, major character on the show is getting a legitimate story arc. She's breaking the codependent cycle she's developed with her atrocious son, and she's finally taking control of her own life.

Liane shows South Park is still evolving

Given the knowledge that Liane Cartman is based on a real person in Trey Parker's life, he and Matt Stone sort of wrote themselves into a corner with her character. Back in 1997 and throughout the aughts, it was commonplace for unsavory female characters to be written as "sluts and whores," and no one was really going to check them on it. That's not the case anymore. They already started weaning out her hypersexuality, as we've evolved to a place culturally where this blatant objectification and slut-shaming is understood as being disrespectful. But Liane's growth is proof that "South Park" is capable of growing and maybe even maturing.

Eric Cartman is more than overdue to be held accountable for his numerous crimes against humanity, and the absolute sweetest and most poetic justice would be if he finally got his comeuppance at the hands of his mother, who created and enabled this big-boned, absolute terrorist. Of course, because it is still "South Park" at the end of the day, that justice is served on a platter of saline implants the size of his head. We know after the finale of the "Post Covid" film, Cartman is in store for a grim future unless he can get it together. Now that Liane isn't going to let him push her around anymore, this might be the start of his inevitable (and deserving) downfall. 

Good for you, Liane. We're all proud of you.