South Park tends to be at its best when there are major events in the news ripe for satire. “The Pandemic Special,” a recent one-hour-long special episode–the first in the long-running show’s history–is evidence of this, clocking a seven-year ratings high: According to a release, the special drew 2.3 million total viewers on Comedy Central, representing a 168% leap from last season’s average rating, and a 178% jump on its average viewership.
As the episode title suggests, the special satirizes several aspects of the United States’ COVID-19 response–and also touches on the year’s increasing headlines on racial unrest. In the special, “Randy comes to terms with his role in the COVID-19 outbreak… [while] the kids happily head back to school, but nothing resembles the normal that they once knew; not their teachers, not their homeroom, not even Eric Cartman.” The episode is a standalone special, and is not part of Season 24, which has yet to be announced.
“We’re thrilled with South Park’s return and it’s clear the audience was as well,” Chris McCarthy, ViacomCBS president of entertainment and youth brands said. “The success is a testament to Matt and Trey’s creative genius and how we used our full portfolio to let everyone know it’s back–propelling it to the No. 1 scripted telecast of 2020 and delivering its highest ratings in seven years.”
In line with South Park’s unexpected pandemic-themed special which isn’t technically part of any season, COVID-19 during 2020 has made film and TV production wildly unpredictable. It’s been a year filled with countless delayed release dates, most recently including the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die–which was recently pushed back to April 2, 2021. Last month, The Batman’s production had a temporary pause shortly after being restarted due to star Robert Pattinson testing positive for the coronavirus. The Batman recently resumed production.
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