South Park returned to Comedy Central with a bang this week, earning some of the highest ratings the long-running animated series has seen in several years. With so much to work with since the series had last aired in 2019, fans had been waiting for months for the series to come back and satirize the events of 2020. Series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker did just that with "The Pandemic Special," the show's first-ever hour-long episode, and their take on this year brought about incredible success for South Park's return.

Per Comedy Central, the new South Park special episode saw 4.05 million total live viewers across the night. This made it the No. 1 scripted cable telecast of 2020 along with bringing South Park its highest rated broadcast in seven years. It's also up 168% from last season's average, with more than double the social media views of the season 23 premiere. On Twitter, South Park also became the No. 2 trending topic and top 10 trending topic for three hours.

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"We're thrilled with South Park's return and it's clear the audience was as well," said Chris McCarthy, President, Entertainment & Youth Brands, ViacomCBS. "The success is a testament to Matt and Trey's creative genius and how we used our full portfolio to let everyone know it's back - propelling it to the #1 scripted telecast of 2020 and delivering its highest ratings in seven years."

In the high-rated Pandemic Special, Randy Marsh discovers himself to be responsible for the spread, resorting to desperate measures to find a cure and somehow reverse the damage. Meanwhile, Cartman and the others return to school to find that it's nothing like how they remember, and they devise a plan to bring some normalcy back to the Colorado town. Some of 2020's most hot button issues are addressed head on, such as the requirements to wear facial coverings, the presidential response to the spread of the illness, and the subject of police brutality.

When we can expect to see more new episodes of South Park is still unclear. With the hour-long episode treated as a special, it doesn't mark the return of weekly episodes on Comedy Central. An official premiere date for season 24 on the network still has yet to be revealed. For the past several years, new seasons of the series typically debuted in late September, but most every television production has been delayed as a result of the events spoofed in the new South Park special. While the special episode covered a lot, it still just scratches the surface of everything that's happened in 2020.

If you didn't catch it live on Comedy Central, the new "Pandemic Special" episode is free to watch now on the official South Park website. You can also watch the special episode along with every other episode from the previous 23 seasons on HBO Max. The WarnerMedia streaming service secured the exclusive streaming rights to the series earlier this year for hundreds of millions of dollars. This news comes to us from Comedy Central.

Jeremy Dick at TVweb
Jeremy Dick