South Park Season 20 Premiere is Highest-Rated Episode in A Decade

South Park's two-decade landmark brought viewers in droves for an episode satirizing why the old and familiar is oddly comforting.

South Park - Randy and Member Berries

As of last week, South Park has entered its 20th season. This would be a big deal for any show, but is especially so for one so intent on offending everybody possible. A major reason for the show's longevity lies in its willingness to reinvent itself over time. The production of a 22-minute episode, once painstakingly animated in stop motion with construction paper, can now be completed in under a week through modern animation techniques. This has allowed the writing team, spearheaded by creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, to satirize current events with a speedy consistency that few other fictional shows can match.

South Park continued this legacy with its 20th season premiere "Member Berries." Its plot springboards from the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of systemic national racism by taking a knee, rather than standing, during the national anthem. This spins into a satire of the modern obsession with making the old things new as J.J. Abrams is hired to reboot the national anthem. The show then ties the comfort of the familiar into a commentary on the recent political election. Like South Park's last successful season, this is sure to pay off episodically.

Comedy Central has revealed that they've had a great week. The season 20 premiere of South Park was viewed by 3.7 million viewers - a series high since 2006. This was up 27 percent from the 19th season's premiere and now ranks as the highest cable premiere of 2016. Benefitting from the South Park bump was the brand new animated series that followed it, Legends of Chamberlain Heights. The show benefitted from the highest-rated series premiere for a Comedy Central original since 2014's Broad City.

A large reason for the exceptional performance of the South Park premiere likely has to do with its landmark event status. Even lapsed fans likely had an interest in seeing how far the show had come after two decades. The show also had the benefit of some cross-promotion from the gaming community. The reveal trailer for the upcoming video game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, was one of the highlights of Ubisoft's E3 conference this year. Riffing on the popularity of the superhero franchise, the trailer reminded a lot of potential viewers how funny the show could be. Another explanation for the series' resurgence could simply be in how successful its episodic 19th season was. In the very least, following the binge-worthy patterns of the most popular shows today certainly couldn't have hurt.

Are you a lapsed South Park fan who tuned into the 20th season series premiere? Let us know what piqued your interest in the comments section, and stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on South Park as they hit.

South Park continues next Wednesday @10pm on Comedy Central.

Source: Comedy Central

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