4 out of 5
Directed by: Trey Parker
So I’m one of those types who still actively enjoys current seasons of The Simpsons. I get the complaints, but I don’t lament the lack of “classic”-type episodes – the show fulfills a unique need, from which I still get enjoyment, and things in the world have changed in the X amount of years the show has been on; it’s hard to assess what the impact of those old eps would be if they’d debuted nowadays. The same is 100% true of South Park – same exact mentality. The show had its golden era, and I admittedly haven’t laughed out loud as much as that time, but SP still has its own vibe, and I still have a good time with that.
That’s the caveat behind this Post-COVID special: South Park is, as ever, reaping rewards from old, legacy jokes, just as Matt Stone and Trey Parker are forever trying to revamp things on top of that, and remain mindful of as current events as possible. SP also drives a joke into the ground like no other, making a lot of the repeated gags in this special – about over-the-top COVID reactions; the evolution of “woke” culture in the future – come out the other side of amusing to pretty hilarious. I did laugh out loud a couple of times, which is especially notable, and I was actually wrapped up in the plot of the episode rather significantly – jumping ahead to when COVID is “resolved,” several decades in the future, until a new strain breaks out in our titular town, bringing the quite disenchanted trio of Stan, Kyle, and Cartman back together. (Kenny is dead, of course.)
The storytelling is one of the more unique elements SP has developed over the Simpsons, which has worked with ongoing plots in its last few seasons to okay effect; having a full hour to spread things out and not feel so forced to come to a conclusion in 22 minutes seems to have benefitted Trey’s and Stone’s writing – I’d be interested to see what would / could happen if they focused on specials like this instead of aiming for weekly eps during a season, but ce la vie.
While the Post-COVID special is not going to convert or unconvert non-fans / fans of the show, for those who’ve maybe set the show aside completely, and have a tolerance for occasional puerility (it’s not South Park if someone isn’t vomiting or pooping here and there), the humor here is a nice balance between common-to-most topics and some sharper barbs, and then some pretty hilarious dad jokes to I think could sneak this in to even more general audiences.