‘Beavis and Butt-Head’: Everything You Need to Know Before Mike Judge Brings Them Back
Beavis and Butt-Head are back! Mike Judge will oversee and voice his trademark animated characters for two new seasons, Comedy Central announced on July 1, 2020. The show will now stream on Paramount+. Beavis and Butt-Head ran for seven seasons on MTV from 1993 – 1997, starred in a hit movie and had a revival season on MTV in 2011.
That’s still a long time since anyone has seen Beavis and Butt-Head, let alone new generations who never met them. Here is why they are important and why it’s a big deal that they are coming back.
‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ defined the MTV generation
Beavis and Butt-Head got their own show after Judge introduced them in a short called “Frog Baseball.” Judge did the voices of two 14-year-olds obsessed with heavy metal who loved to eat nachos and laughed incessantly. In between animated misadventures, they would sit and watch MTV videos, celebrating the “cool” ones and making fun of the ones that “sucked.”
When they praised White Zombie, it brought the band a whole new audience. They didn’t seem to hurt the sales of any band they mocked. Bon Jovi is still around making new new music since Beavis and Butt-Head called Jon Bon Jovi a wuss.
Beavis and Butt-Head became emblematic of a generation of teenagers left alone to do nothing but watch TV. They were a satire of the potential negative influence of too much television. In the end, they hurt themselves more than others with their bad decisions. Like any good satire, through their ignorance and lack of common sense, they ended up making astute observations about their generation and its pop culture.
Beavis, Butt-Head and other characters
Comedy Central suggested that they are developing spinoffs with Judge, so it’s important to know who populated their world. Daria, the smart girl who often got saddled with Beavis and Butt-Head, already got her own spinoff on MTV in the ’90s. Hopefully she’s back in Highland, Texas with them.
Their teachers included hippie Mr. Van Driessen, militaristic gym teacher Mr. Buzzcut and their principal Mr. McVicker, driven to anxiety by all of Beavis and Butt-Head’s antics. The boys would also frequently terrorize their neighbor, Mr. Anderson, who sounds a whole lot like Judge’s later character Hank Hill from King of the Hill. Anderson, however, is just out of it enough to fall for Beavis and Butt-head every time.
Stewart is another classmate of Beavis and Butt-Head’s whom they terrorize. There is also also Todd, a local criminal on whom Beavis and Butt-head have a crush. Todd only has time for them when they beat him up.
Beavis himself also had an alter ego. When he eats or drinks too much sugar, he becomes The Great Cornholio. He pulls his shirt over his head, raises his hands in the air, demands “TP for my bunghole” and thinks everyone is threatening him.
Mike Judge’s animated world
Many of Beavis and Butt-Head’s adventures took place in their high school, or Burger World, the fast food restaurant where they worked, badly. In class, they would goof off, make a scene or interrupt the lesson to laugh at anything that sounded vaguely sexual. At work they would contaminate the food or fry up rats and worms, while Beavis worked the drive through (“Thank you, drive through.”)
Like any pubescent teenagers, Beavis and Butt-Head wanted to score. They may have been more ramped up than most. They’re “hey, baby” rarely got a woman’s attention, and later attempts like ordering a Russian mail-order bride didn’t work either.
Some of the funniest episodes were the most random. They think having beards will make them appeal to women, but of course they can’t grow facial hair yet. So they cut hair off their head and glue it to their faces. Beavis walked around saying, “Damn, I’m smooth” but rest assured, he wasn’t.
One time, Beavis believes he is pregnant and goes through the panic of an unexpected pregnancy, covering every test except for the fact that he doesn’t have a uterus. They once got “stranded” on a desert island in the middle of a mall fountain. Beavis once got so into his Cornholio persona that he got deported.
Mike Judge adapted the characters to movies and the new millennium
In the movie, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, they get mistaken for hitmen hired to assassinate a criminal (Bruce Willis)’s wife (Demi Moore). Instead, she hides a stolen device in Beavis’s pants, leading the ATF to pursue them. They have no idea of course. They’re still just trying to score.
The 2011 MTV season showed that Beavis and Butt-Head remain relevant in any generation. Their adventures involved then-current trends like teen vampire movies, and they watched MTV’s reality shows in addition to music videos. They hadn’t aged, or scored yet, and still got whole episodes out of absurdly simple concepts. In one 2011 episodes, Butt-Head spent the entire episode, and their entire lives apparently, making fun of Beavis for crying once.
‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ controversy
Beavis and Butt-Head abused animals in the “Frog Baseball” short and indeed were destructive on the series. Beavis himself was obsessed with fire. A mother blamed the show for inspiring her five-year-old son to play with matches and burn down their mobile home, killing his younger sister.
The story, reported in this 1993 Associated Press article, led MTV to edit all references to fire out of the series. No one ever seemed to report on how a five-year-old was left unattended with access to matches. In the movie, and by 2011, Beavis could celebrate fire again.
Around the fire controversy, Senator Fritz Hollings tried to call out the show but he didn’t know the name. He called them Buffcoat and Beaver. Judge had some fun with that, having Mr. Anderson refer to the hooligans as Buffcoat and Beaver in an episode. Beavis and Butt-Head got a visit from then President Bill Clinton, where Clinton seemed to get along swimmingly with the teens.
Beavis and Butt-Head were edgier than Bart Simpson was just a few years earlier. Bart was enough to make George H.W. Bush say America needed to be more like the Waltons than The Simpsons. After Beavis and Butt-Head, South Park and Family Guy would take animated comedy even more extreme, profane and satirical.
What Mike Judge could make them today
The world is a different place than when Beavis and Butt-Head first mocked a generation. MTV already stopped showing videos by the time of their 2011 revival, although they could now find videos on YouTube. Indeed, for characters so defined by the omnipresence of cable television in the ’90s, Judge can have a lot of fun seeing how they adapt to the streaming world.
Not that Netflix or Hulu would license them clips of shows to mock (or maybe they would have a good sense of humor about it), but Beavis and Butt-Head shouldn’t have to struggle to find something cool to watch anymore. When Beavis says, “This sucks, change it,” they’ll have infinite options.
Social media was just beginning around the 2011 revival, so sicking Beavis and Butt-Head on a world of Twitter and Tik Tok could be genius. These anti-social kids will probably be out of their depth interacting with trolls on social media, or they could be the most magnificent trolls we’ve ever seen.
Mike Judge could bridge the ’90s to today
If Beavis and Butt-Head are still stuck in the ’90s, they will be quite different than the modern teens they could meet today. That just means that the characters who once mocked their contemporaries can now harken back to a time when Beavis and Butt-Head were the worst problem students we could imagine.
They will probably have to be careful with their “hey, baby”s but seeing Beavis and Butt-Head deal with a post #MeToo world has to be the subject of at least one episode. It could be a teachable moment for the real world Beavis and Butt-Heads who are far more aggressive and harmful than those ogling teens.
The greatest hope for new Beavis and Butt-Head would be a new Christmas episode. In Christmas 1995, Santa Butt-Head answered real letters from viewers. They can even reuse the same animation and just dub new answers to new letters!