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Beavis and Butt-Head Do America ... Again
Published on October 30, 2011 by guest author: J.K. Eisen

When I learned that Beavis and Butt-Head would be returning to MTV with new episodes, I had mixed feelings.

I was a fan of the series during its original run from 1993 to 1997. I saw the movie, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, when it was in theaters. And, of course, I recited my favorite lines with friends as we all giggled like the show’s stars. As the years passed, I also appreciated it for opening the door for other animated shows that I enjoy. South Park, Family Guy, American Dad and Aqua Teen Hunger Force are indebted to Beavis and Butt-Head.

But as much as I wanted to see new adventures involving those giggling and snickering morons, I knew it could be a huge disappointment. It’s been 14 years since the series ended. Could the show pick up where it left off? Would it seem stale and dated? Would MTV meddle and ruin it? The show’s creator, Mike Judge, had great success with the more mainstream King of the Hill. I wondered if that experience would soften the edges of the show a bit.

If the first new episode is any indication, the show not only successfully picks up where it left off, but it’s apparent that the world – and pop culture – is once again ripe for critique by Beavis and Butt-Head.

The first episode features a story inspired by the Twilight movie franchise. After seeing girls in the movie theater swoon over a werewolf in the movie, the guys decide they should become werewolves. Naturally, they set out to find a werewolf to bite them. The quest leaves them with multiple bite marks and hepatitis A, B and C as well as a slew of other diseases.

Yes, this is the Beavis and Butt-Head I remember.

Judge obviously didn’t tinker much with a successful formula. He didn’t make major changes to the animation style or try something radical like age Beavis and Butt-Head. It’s 2011, but they’re still teenagers in high school. The first new episode also includes appearances by some of the more memorable supporting characters: David Van Driessen (the hippie teacher), Coach Bradley Buzzcut and classmate Stewart Stevenson (complete with Winger T-shirt).

The most noticeable change is that the boys watch reality shows along with their typical TV diet of music videos. It’s a smart move. Jersey Shore provided great material for a funny running commentary during this episode. It also provided the strange realization that the flesh-and-blood cast members of Jersey Shore are more crude and cartoonish than Beavis and Butt-Head. Beavis even ridicules a cast member’s attempt at sexual innuendo.

How bad is it when Beavis ridicules your attempt at sophomoric sexual humor?

Beavis and Butt-Head seem to have more self-awareness, insight and, dare I say, intellect, than the cast members. I’m not sure if that’s praise for Beavis and Butt-Head or an example of a decline in western civilization. Nevertheless, the prospect of Beavis and Butt-Head critiquing reality shows will likely have viewers tuning in each week. Well, the reality show critiques and the return of Cornholio will probably have people tuning in.

Judge also showed in the first episode that he can create a storyline that doesn’t rely heavily on pop culture. The episode’s second storyline was a simple but fun plot where Beavis is brought to tears as he watches The Bachelor. The show isn’t the source of the tears but the onion on the hotdog he’s eating. Butt-Head sees the tears and ridicules him for being moved to tears by the show.

“You’re moved,” Butt-Head declares before breaking into his trademark laughter.

“I am not moved!” Beavis protests.  “Shut up!”

The story follows Butt-Head as he teases his pal about the tears over days, weeks, months and, yes, even years. Apparently, for Butt-Head some things never grow old and stale. Maybe Beavis and Butt-Head fans will be able to say the same about the return of the show.

J.K. Eisen writes about entertainment and the world around him. He lives in the Deep South.

Previous posts by this writer: Pre-Code Cinema with a "Baby Face"

Attack of the Human Centipede (And Other Examples of Extreme Cinema)

"Family Jewels" & Wedding Rings: Gene Simmons Gets Married

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