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South Park is simultaneously the dumbest and the smartest show on air. The long-running cartoon has had a history of controversy, brilliant jokes, and creative ways of tackling current issues. In the recent specials, South Park has finally found the balance between being itself and being politically relevant. The one-hour special tackled Vaccination, QAnon, schools re-opening, how the pandemic is affecting kids, and, finally, it brings Mr. Garrison back.
The episode starts with Mr. Mackey and Mr. Adler trying to get into Walgreens, which has velvet rope in front of it and is blaring music while a bouncer guards it. There’s a line of people, including Stephen Stotch (whom fans know to be politically conservative), who are waiting to get vaccinated. A 79-year-old woman crosses the line and gets a vaccine. Throughout the episode, old people can be seen partying.
The episodes used a club theme to parody how exclusive COVID-19 vaccinations are right now, and how the exclusivity might seem ridiculous to some. South Park parodies those who are trying to cut the line to get a vaccine, like Mr. Mackey dressing up as a firefighter (parodying the two women arrested for trying to get a second dose of the vaccine dressed up as senior citizens), the boys (Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny) creating “Kommunity Kidz,” and the newsman trying to use his status as a journalist to get in. The episode makes a point of emphasizing that people are at their breaking point, and all they want is a little normalcy.
The episode concerns itself with teachers and what it’s going to look like for kids in this vaccination line. The boys have a chance at normalcy when school reopens; however, due to a cruel prank orchestrated by Eric Cartman, the teacher storms out, saying, “I come here, and I risk my life to teach you, and I can’t even get a vaccination because teachers aren’t important enough?”
The line really sticks with parents watching at home. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, both have their own kids, one of which is the voice of Ike. I’m sure both men are concerned about how the country is handling vaccines. The episode makes it a point to say that it’s ridiculous that teachers have to go back to school without getting vaccinated, especially when they have to deal with the plethora of characters at South Park Elementary. I mean, Mr. Mackey and Mr. Adler only try to get vaccinated because they are school faculty. The adults of South Park represent this universal want to know what’s going on, and how people just want to get back to normal. Gerald, Kyle’s dad, even tries to manipulate Kyle into giving the vaccine to him instead of to the teachers.
The stress is too much, and the isolation is overwhelming for the kids. Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, and Stan are feeling like they’ve grown apart, and they don’t want to lose their ‘broship.’ I was thinking about Stone and Parker’s kids when I saw that, thinking about how they might be seeing their kids losing friendships in a time of their lives when they’re supposed to be doing nothing but being with friends.
The kids who are kept home are being taught by South Park’s QAnon followers, who teach kids like Craig Tucker about the “Hollywood elites,” who are supposedly drinking children’s blood. South Park further parodies QAnon followers when Bob White tries to decipher Mr. Garrison’s comment — “blow sh—t out your d—ckhole.”
Mr. Garrison returns to South Park after, in Peter Charles (PC Principal)’s words, “identifying as president.” The conservative population is happy to see him, hoping he might save them. However, Mr. Garrison is clearly ready to leave his past and return to his spot as the boys’ teacher. Old fans will recognize “Mr. Service” as a call-back to Garrison’s previous teaching assistant, Mr. Slave. Garrison sees this like any new chapter is in tumultuous life, from identifying as gay, to a woman, a gay woman, then de-transitioning back to identifying as a gay man. Then he was President.
The episode leaves with the return of Mr. Hat, Mr. Garrison’s hand puppet from the first seasons of South Park, the death of Mrs. Nelson, who dies from COVID-19 just before she gets the vaccine, all adults are vaccinated, and it seems like we’re returning to the South Park we’ve known and loved for a long time. Even if you haven’t seen the last special, I urge you to see this one. It’s relatable in many different ways, witty as always, and extremely funny. South Park never disappoints.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Comedy Central