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The Pandemic Special Tried to Make us Laugh at 2020

South Park: The Pandemic Special

South Park: the Pandemic Special Review

At the time I’m writing this, it’s only been an hour since the premiere of South Park: the Pandemic Special, and I’m still coming down from the laughter high it gave me. And considering how my highlight from the previous night was seeing the two guys running for President yell at each other, I needed this pick-me-up. All of America needed this pick-me-up. They needed this Pandemic Special, and it tried to deliver. It also served as a reminder that this year is the worst since 1968. Now, let’s breakdown what made this Pandemic Special mostly work.

South Park is Miserable And It’s All Randy’s Fault

The cold opening showing South Park in pandemic mode reminds the audience of how bad things have gotten for America. Shops remain closed, people are dying, and life sucks for everyone. The only ones happy are Cartman and Randy Marsh. The former because he’s happy to not be in school, and the latter because his weed farm is booming. And being Randy, he first rubs it in people’s faces, and then announces his Pandemic Special to make an extra profit.

If this took place last year, I’d have just groaned at Randy’s stupidity and see how it played out. However, the writers seem to be aware of how many fans don’t like Tegridy Farms, and decided to use that to their advantage. In the special’s synopsis, it says that Randy comes to terms with his role in starting COVID-19. Turns out they weren’t joking. Remember how Randy went to China last season? Well, he and Micky Mouse got high on weed, they found a bat, and, well…

South Park the Pandemic Special: Randy Did this to Us!

But then it turns out it was a Pangolin. That he also did it to while high. In other words, Randy Marsh is responsible for ruining 2020, which would be hilarious if it weren’t for how miserable we all are, and the fact that the show spent the better part of its last season focused on Randy’s stupidity. As a result, Randy then spends the rest of the Pandemic Special trying to cover his tracks and keep himself from being blamed, only to make things so much worse.

The Great Chain of Misery for 2020

The special is South Park’s attempt to address an entire years worth of misery in the span of an hour. While I don’t think that they managed to hit everything right, I also know how monumental a task that is. Life has gotten so ridiculous that it can be hard to make fun of at this point. Still, they at least try, and I think that’s what counts.

While Randy’s trying to keep his part in COVID-19 a secret, the rest of the special deals with the myriad of garbage this year has thrown with us. There are free big issues that primarily focuses on, though. The first is the debate over whether school’s should reopen, something that Cartman adamantly opposes. It’s not that he’s concerned about his health, though; he just likes being out of school and ignoring classes on Zoom. Nonetheless, he’s right to be worried. Every time we try and open a school, it seems like someone catches COVID-19, and everyone has to quarantine. In this case, the kids have to spend two weeks stuck at school and watched by Police Officers.

Which brings me to the next issue: the fact that no one trusts police anymore. Thanks to the heinous actions of several cops in 2020, confidence in them has hit rock bottom. And since the cops in South Park are so trigger-happy, they make things worse by shooting themselves in the foot by accidentally shooting Token. Then they use insane troll logic to quarantine the whole school because of COVID-19. Which leads to the students escaping and results in the police going to town.

I’m not sorry for laughing at this.

As hilarious as it is, it highlights just how badly things to change with police in our country.

Finally, there’s the big, underlying issue that is explored through the kids: the desire to return to a normal life. With how miserable 2020 has been, we all want to wake up and find everything’s gone back to normal and we can enjoy our lives again. And the fact that it may be months or years before that happens is not something everyone can cope with. Stan even breaks down in tears near the end over it. But then, the Pandemic Special gives us the Aesop of the story, I think.

The Aesop of the Pandemic Special

Okay, I’m not sure if this is the moral of the story, but it’s what I got from it: that we shouldn’t give up hope. I know it’s cheesy and cliche, but we all have to remember that everyone’s been suffering through this year. But no matter how bad things may get, we can’t just give up hope, and that we need to remember to look on the bright side of things. Or at least learn to laugh at our misery.

I think that’s what they were going for, but aside from a few moments, it didn’t always work in its execution. In fact, the very end has the show give a genuine plea for people to get out and vote Trump out of office. If South Park is willing to abandon their philosophy of making fun of everyone, then we know that something is wrong with this country. For the love of all that is good, people, vote Trump out of office!

I Give “South Park: The Pandemic Special” a 3/5

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