- Hamish Hart
South Park: Post Covid (2021) Review
A $900 million deal between South Park Studios and ViacomCBS has allowed comedic geniuses Trey Parker and Matt Stone to continue the purposeful insanity that is South Park with a confirmed 6 seasons and 14 Paramount Plus exclusive specials, the first of these taking the series to uncharted territories as our beloved fourth graders are now all grown up.
South Park: Post Covid is set 40 years in the future where Covid-19 is nearing complete eradication and the boys have moved on with their lives after ending their friendship. Stan, now living in the city, receives a call from Kyle that he needs to come home for Kenny's funeral following his "untimely" death, forcing him to return to a town he left behind. After catching up with his former friends it's revealed Kenny was searching for a cure to Covid-19 prior to his death, which led him to be infected with a new variant, prompting mass hysteria and a sudden lockdown as our favourite fourth graders must come together and solve the mystery surrounding Kenny's demise.
Fans have been speculating for over 20 years whether South Park would canonically portray the children as adults, and thanks to this special, nearly all queries have been answered. The special portrays majority of the fourth graders as adults such as Wendy who remains a strong role model for feminism and Jimmy who persisted with his stand-up dreams and now hosts a late night talk show, but for the most part, Post Covid delves into the future of the main four: Stan, Kyle, Eric and Kenny; all of whom are given near-perfect character progression and development.
Stan grows up to be a shell of his former self, becoming an alcoholic who berates his humanoid wife, Amazon Alexa, and his former friends out of jealously and resentment as his personality becomes more and more similar to what his father Randy was and, in many ways, still is like; a wonderful nod to how the Marsh's history of addictions are passed down genetically. Kyle and Kenny retain their same beliefs and personalities; Kyle remaining a moral compass for the group while Kenny is shown to be a dedicated humanitarian through his scientific endeavours to rid the world of Covid-19, harmonizing with his younger self who was always portrayed as kind-hearted and selfless. The most startling character transformation easily goes to Eric Cartman who, despite ridiculing their religion for years, now worships Judaism and is the only one to father a family as he realises the sins of his past and wants to make amends with those he's wronged. Cartman becoming a rabbi is absolutely perfect, shifting the status quo and allowing audiences to witness a more wholesome side of Eric, all while Kyle refuses to believe his change of heart which continues their decades-long feud despite being on the same side for once.
Being a direct sequel to The Vaccination Special earlier this year, Post Covid tackles many of the same topics surrounding Covid-19 on top of new ones including anti-vaxxers, new variants and pandemic fatigue in gut-wrenching and controversial ways like only South Park can. The special also takes jabs at what the future has in store for us through scarily-realistic predictions such as Amazon Alexas becoming physical beings, children playing outside with VR headsets and, perhaps the funniest running gag, that doorbells in the future will literally sing to you about how they can sing in the future; a stupid joke only made funny by Trey Parker's absurdly funny vocals.
Vaccination Special saw a return-to-form for South Park, with Post Covid proving to be just as good if not better. The risky decision to perform a 40-year time skip was a breath of fresh air in a show which has remained a standard bearer for future adult sitcoms, allowing for immense character progression and a broader range of jokes to be explored and capitalised on. Parker and Stone listened to the fans and gave them character growth for nearly every fourth grader, showcasing their earnest progression from plucky elementary school kids to pandemic-hardened adults who remain as ingenious as they do amusing. And judging by its ambiguous ending, it looks like South Park will remain in the future for the foreseeable future; a decision I am all for.