Put gently, the United States has faced some difficulties in the last few months. However, just like the aftermath of 9/11, the invasion of Iraq and The Great Recession, “South Park” is back to cheer up the country again with its topical and cathartic humor. Series creators and voice actors Trey Parker and Matt Stone (“The Book of Mormon”) tackle the subjects of vaccine distribution and QAnon conspiracy theories in the “South ParQ Vaccination Special.”
The episode begins at Walgreens, now styled as an exclusive nightclub, complete with EDM, a bouncer, a rope barrier and a long line of adults waiting to get in. Once an old lady arrives, though, she is immediately allowed entrance into the pharmacy, as she is eligible for the vaccine while the middle-aged are not. Throughout the episode, senior citizens celebrate across town, while adults strive to prove that they are deserving of receiving one of the few available COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, Cartman and Kenny pull a juvenile prank on their teacher, Mrs. Nelson, prompting her to quit her job — the last straw on top of COVID-19 related stress. The other two primary characters, Stan and Kyle, are roped into the scandal by Cartman, and the quartet spends the rest of the episode attempting to secure vaccines for Mrs. Nelson and the rest of the school’s faculty.
Parents subsequently pull their kids out of school once the disdained former teacher, Mr. Garrison — who spent the last five seasons of the show serving as President Garrison (a spoof of Trump) — returns. The parents instead hire QAnon members to homeschool their children. The conflicts of the episode are resolved when Mr. Garrison saves the day by calling in an Israeli plane to deliver vaccines, while Mrs. Nelson dies from COVID-19 as the boys fail to get her a vaccine in time.
It is truly a special feeling to witness absolute greatness. It is the sense that any fan of comedy will understand when watching the work of Parker and Stone, who have spent nearly 24 years refining their skills through the production of “South Park.” The “South ParQ Vaccination Special” serves as a reminder of the duo’s preeminence in television comedy. Parker and Stone have mastered the ability to blend purely juvenile and absurdist humor with the sharpest political satire television has ever seen.
Using comedy as a means to broach touchy subjects such as vaccination impatience, COVID-19 deaths and former President Donald Trump yields unparalleled success. People are more willing to consider controversial opinions (or opinions that they disagree with) when presented in an episode of “South Park” than they would through an opinion piece published by their least favorite publication. More importantly, laughing about hardships is a healthy way to release some of the stress that arises from them.
Parker and Stone have also proved once again that they are not afraid to go against status-quo Hollywood norms. It is refreshing to see a positive reference to Israel’s vaccination success on “South Park,” as it has seemed that anti-Semitic portrayals of Jewish people on television have become commonplace in recent weeks.
There are countless other laugh-out-loud bits that I could rave about (Parker and Stone themselves appearing on QAnon’s Board of “Elites” was a particularly hilarious one), but you get the point. No show responds to serious issues better than “South Park.” We must all hope and pray that episodes will once again roll out at a consistent rate following the pandemic.
Daily Arts Writer Aidan Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.