Despite justifiable concerns over South Park applying its brand of “both sides” humor to the deadly serious COVID-19 crisis in America, “The Pandemic Special” appears to be just the antidote that some viewers were looking for. The hour-long episode, which was simulcast on MTV and MTV2 along with its home on Comedy Central, brought in the best ratings for the animated series in the past seven years. Via Deadline:
The Comedy Central animated veteran scored 2.3 million Live+Same Day total viewers and a 2.1 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic on the network. That was the show’s highest L+SD demo number in seven years, up 168% vs. the series’ Season 23 average. It also ranks as the highest-rated scripted telecast on ad-supported cable in 2020.
Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that”The Pandemic Special” dropped in the middle of a content drought with the fall TV season being thrown into disarray when productions were scuttled during the pandemic. The fact that South Park scored the highest-rated show of the year would suggest that viewers stuck at home are hungry for entertainment, however they can get it.
That said,”The Pandemic Special” defied expectations as it heavily skewered President Donald Trump’s disastrous response to the coronavirus and offered a fair and insightful rumination on the lockdown through one of the show’s patented Stan speeches. Even more surprising, while creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have historically looked down on voting thanks to their libertarian views on the two party system, “The Pandemic Special” broke tradition and encouraged viewers to vote. It was a rare and welcomed moment for a show whose pathos for two decades has been “caring isn’t cool.”