How COVID-19 Inspired an Animation Renaissance

Photo Courtesy: South Park Studios/Comedy Central/IMDb

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the coronavirus pandemic led to a surge in TV viewership, as the world spent months hunkering down to comply with shelter-in-place orders. With many stores temporarily closed, professional sporting events canceled and movie theaters out of commission, streaming services and television became entertainment lifelines for lots of us. And some shows — namely South Park, whose "The Pandemic Special" episode garnered the series its highest live and same-day ratings in seven years — even addressed coronavirus-specific events with timely commentary (along with hefty doses of helping-us-cope humor).

The COVID-19 pandemic sent many live-action Hollywood productions spiraling as the industry attempted to reckon with the implications of sheltering in place and following social distancing guidelines — two modifications that made working on a set all but impossible (not to mention irresponsible and potentially dangerous). Throughout it all, however, animation-based programs provided a haven, a fantastical escape from what was happening in the real world. As people of all ages found themselves quarantined at home together, cartoons stepped up to the plate to fill a pandemic-sized entertainment void.