Shortly before the 2004 presidential election, Matt Parker and Trey Stone said to "Stay home" and "Don't vote." "And," added Stone, "it's no big deal. If you don't want to vote, you don't have to. F*ck that vote or die sh*t. I hate that." At the end of this week's "The Pandemic Special," Matt and Trey pleaded with viewers to vote. "The reliable ideology that forms the spine of South Park is that Parker and his co-creator Matt Stone aren't on anyone's side – politically, culturally or socially," says Melanie McFarland. "We used to describe the show as an equal opportunity offender, and maybe that's true in a sense. Where that label falls apart is in the show's recurring proof that it actually has a moral center of sorts; equal opportunity offenders don't tend to care about anyone or anything. Not so here. 'The Pandemic Special' won't be remembered as the finest hour of South Park, and I say this not as a pun but in acknowledgment that with Comedy Central running through its catalogue, you're more likely to turn on back-to-back repeat episodes that are sharper, more coherent and outrageous than Wednesday night's entry. At the same time, it's also very much evidence that the show's producers feel as stuck in the mire as everyone else – and they do care. Parker and his team deserve credit for using the hour as a catch-all to poke fun at the absurdity of living our lives through Zoom screens, the bizarre direction that the mask debate has taken, and the vile absurdity of pouring enough funds into our police departments to enable them to afford military-grade equipment while teachers are left to choose between employment and their safety. The overall message of this episode isn't one of the South Park team feeling above it all to the point of comfortably rolling their eyes at madness gripping America. Instead it reflects a kind of frazzled incredulity and disillusionment about where we find ourselves."