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Is South Park going through an existential crisis?

  • "Two episodes aren’t typically enough to elicit concern over a decades-old series already renewed through 2022, but when these two episodes are the sole output in 15 months, one has to wonder," says Ben Travers, in reviewing this week's South ParQ Vaccination Special. "Both hourlong specials — last October’s much-ballyhooed Pandemic Special and Wednesday night’s Vaccination Special — tell self-reflective stories set in our especially trying times, and both put not only this country on blast for its abhorrent pandemic response, but they also take a hard look at the show itself." The second special, says Travers, was less provocative than the first, "but even more meta...Two specials, two self-exams — two zealous attacks on Disney — and two endings that reflect a wariness of their own existence. After so much change over the past four years, in the world and in South Park, (Matt) Stone and (Trey) Parker may have felt the need to put a few fundamental pieces of their sitcom back in place."


    • South ParQ Vaccination Special is ugly, angry and a total waste of time: "The hour-long episode is a wallow in ignorance, with jokes grounded in a lack of knowledge. It’s satire by and for people who haven’t been paying attention, and it’s the last thing we need right now," says Mick LaSalle. This was supposed to be the South Park episode that roasted the QAnon conspiracy theory movement (hence, the Q in 'ParQ'), but it’s completely toothless. It introduced characters that talked about 'Hollywood elites' drinking the blood of babies, a QAnon belief that everybody has heard about (and a nod to allegations about actor Armie Hammer). Then the show had the QAnon characters repeat those claims over and over. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t informed. It wasn’t insightful, and it certainly did no harm to QAnon. Following the broadcast, there were QAnon people praising the show on Twitter for propagating their ideas. And it’s not as though they were too obtuse to miss the joke. There was no joke."
    • South ParQ Vaccination Special fails to be funny -- but maybe that's the point: "Not every South Park episode succeeds in its aim," says Melanie McFarland. "Some of them aren't particularly funny. The South ParQ Vaccination Special is an odd entry, though, because reminds us that sometimes hilarity is beside the point. Sometimes we need to see the obvious and disturbing parallels between actual examples of human behavior and the facile reasoning that informs cartoon characters' decisions. The Vaccination one-off proves the near impossibility of satirizing a reality that has become a living parody to such a degree as to make one-upping it nearly pointless, and in case you haven't noticed, this is the world we're living in right now."

    TOPICS: South Park, Comedy Central, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Coronavirus, QAnon