Ewan Gleadow

TV Review: South Park – The Pandemic

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Copyright: Comedy Central

Years have passed since I last viewed South Park, an intermittent, festering event in my life that crops up every now and then without rhyme or reason. The last time I went on down to South Park was, I assume, during a state of wanting to order a takeaway but being too lazy to walk down the stairs of the student accommodation and open the door. Such is the life of a first-year. The time before that, though, I was only eight years old and I don’t remember much else of the show. It seems marginally funny, and I’m surprised that it’s still trooping on, with South Park – The Pandemic marking a special episode of the show. 

After figuring he was the cause of the outbreak, Randy sets out on a cover-up story, with the help of Mickey Mouse. The guilt he feels is captured in some strange montage moments, and of course it’s sandwiched between some relatively underwhelming jokes. The throwaway stance South Park has to all of its jokes is rather nice, but the fourth wall breaks are slathered on rather thick through this one. Trippy scenes that remind me of The Hangover somewhat, and not in a good way, this special manages to run several stories at once without any of them being all that interesting or fully-formed. I appreciate the strain and need to adapt quickly to ever-changing events, but then if that’s the case delaying the special would’ve been the best option.  

South Park – The Pandemic isn’t all dreary nonsense, though. It captures the manic anger people feel for one another, but doesn’t do anything with it. Contemporary mentions of mask-wearing, Zoom meetings, and the social distancing we try and face. There are funny concepts in here, but a forty-minute special can’t survive on concept alone.  

Whether pandemic humour will work or not is solely up to who is making it and what it looks to mock. South Park has, by all accounts, been a show with its finger on the pulse of current events. I’m not sure it quite nails whatever message it looks to send, and the comedy is undeveloped, left in a primitive state of somewhat funny concepts but ultimately futile attempts at breaking through the sea of shoddy comedy already available to us. It still has a fast-paced energy to it, and the complaints it raises are admirable, but not quite engaging enough to make for an interesting special.