The South Park Pandemic Special: Is Tegridy Weed Played Out?
A lot has happened since the season 23 finale of “South Park” back on Dec. 11, 2019. Since then we’ve gone through a presidential impeachment trial, suffered Kobe Bryant’s untimely death, a presidential election cycle, landmark police brutality cases, Black Lives Matter protests and riots across the world, and as this episode already alludes to, an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This chaos resulted in a common remark amongst “South Park” fans: “Damn I really wish “South Park” was making new episodes right now.” And it seems that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone couldn’t resist the temptation. Thus, they gave us a 1-hour “South Park” pandemic special.
While the “South Park” pandemic special is some potent stuff, it’s far from the stronger batches that came from Tegridy Farms and the “South Park” creators last season.
The South Park Pandemic Special Spins Too Many Plates
I’m sure the writing sessions for this episode were brutal. As many stand-up comedians have pointed out during this chaotic period, there’s simply too much to make fun of right now. While that seems like a good thing for a comedy show, it also leaves the opportunity to overwhelm the writers.
Coming into this episode I did want to see “South Park” make fun of everything. I soon realized, however, how daunting a task that would be. By the time the pandemic special made it to Donald Trump (played by Mr. Garrison), I forgot we even had a batshit crazy president to satirize.
The show attacked the topics of the ongoing pandemic, a vaccine, the COVID-19’s Chinese origins, police brutality/racism, quarantine, masks, Disney, and Donald Trump, to name a few. That’s not mentioning ongoing “South Park” story-lines like Randy’s weed farm and the kids having to cope with all the ensuing chaos. Simply put, there was too much happening.
That’s not to say that some of the show’s jokes don’t land. Butter’s dad criticizing his neighbors over wearing “chin-diapers” when referring to people wearing masks improperly. And who could’ve seen Randy being patient zero of the pandemic? Oh, and his “genius” method for curing everyone will have you in tears.
My favorite moment, however, has to be when the police go to war on the quarantined children. With Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart” playing in the background, this is “South Park” gold.
The South Park Pandemic Special’s Subpar Social Commentary
Matt Stone and Trey Parker have created some of the best satire of all-time in “South Park.” But much of the commentary in the “South Park” pandemic special falls flat.
An episode of “South Park” should leave you mouth agape with what is being said or shown to you. Last season they challenged the controversial topic of transgenders in sports with the episode “Board Girls.” They challenged Disney and the Chinese government and were subsequently banned because of it. And by the end they had Jesus snorting cocaine. Regardless of what you believe, “South Park” is always here to challenge you.
Clearly, it’s too much to ask one single episode to deliver on all the greatness of last season. With that being said, however, there wasn’t too much that will get people talking from the “South Park” pandemic special. No mic drop moment where you say: “Holy shit, did ‘South Park’ just do that?”
Well, there is a scene of Randy fucking a bat and then a pangolin. But that’s all we’re going to say about that.
When it came to Donald Trump, “South Park” served tiresome jokes. And when it came to the police, riots, and civil discourse there wasn’t anything there that made you think.
It might be asking a lot from “South Park” to give us the antidote to all this chaos. But I’ve at least come to expect to leave an episode with a new idea or way in which to perceive current events. The episodes “Member Berries” and “The Game of Thrones Trilogy” are excellent examples of this.
The “South Park” pandemic special was solid, but it wasn’t the wrecking ball that many fans—including me—hoped it would be.
The last time I can remember the show having to deal with a social climate as fragile and insane as this is after the 9/11 attacks. Back then the show delivered one of its best episodes and one that the country sorely needed.
The question is, however, do the creators and the “South Park” team have it in them this time around?