Does 'Beavis and Butt-Head' Even Fit Today?
Mike Judge is a comedy legend. Beavis and Butt-head, his first hit show, was a stupid comedic delight that perfectly captured Gen-X's apathy-fueled unmotivated laziness. Now we're going to see if Beavis and Butt-Head's dumb charm can adapt for 2020 since it's coming back, this time to Comedy Central.
Just think of how tall an order this will be: Mike Judge is a 57-year old who will be writing a show that's supposed to make satisfy Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Gen-Z, and he has to do it with characters distinctly locked into the classic Gen-X archetype of the very stupid slacker. Even the word "slacker" is tied directly into the early-90s, late-80s Gen-X lexicon. The next generation after them, Millennials, were so completely different from Gen-Xers that we seem like we're an advanced space-faring alien race compared to people who grew up watching re-runs of dull Boomer shit like Gunsmoke.
Comedy Central's press release announcing the show's return says, "meta-themes relatable to both new and old fans -- Gen X parents and their Gen Z kids." That doesn't paint a clear picture of what this version of the show will ultimately be. To get a better idea, all we have to do is look back. In 2011, after a 14-year hiatus, MTV revived Beavis and Butt-Head for a 22-episode 8th season. In the final season of its original run back in 1997, some of the videos Beavis and Butt-Head perform their funny running commentary over in where Korn's "Blind" and Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise."
By 2011, they were mostly mocking clips from Jersey Shore and MTV's True Life docuseries.
Those 2011 episodes were missing the early-to-mid-1990s charm of a pair of idiots making fun of their own generation's tropes. It felt like old people shaking a fist at that The Kids are into. Now the characters will be even further removed from their place in the cultural zeitgeist. A comparison could be drawn to the upcoming Bill and Ted Face The Music, since they're both about idiot Gen-X metalhead slackers trying to find their place in a world dominated by Millennials and Zoomers.
It'll be fascinating to see how these Gen-X cultural touchstones both try to tell new stories so far removed from their eras where these characters made the most sense. The leg-up both series share is that while the culture around them has changed, and their particular brand of dumbass isn't really a thing anymore, stupid is forever. Stupid is a universal concept that transcends time and space. Stupid never dies, it just adapts. Now we wait and see if Beavis and Butt-Head's brand of stupid can be properly adapted for today's audiences.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Catch him on the "In Broad Daylight" podcast with Cracked alums Adam Tod Brown and Ian Fortey! Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com and his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. Listen to the first episode on Youtube!
Top Image: MTV