They’ve returned, and not a moment too soon. Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead in 1994 was one of the great satires on television. The show – so well known as to not really require recapping, followed its namesakes through their adventures as terribly underwhelming high school students in a place that bears an awfully close resemblance to Texas. In a way Judge was a genius in how he had a show lampooning disaffected teenagers hiding in plain view nestled in the middle of MTV’s lineup. The particular inspiration was that the show managed to both have inside jokes while the outside of the jokes stayed funny as well. Even if you just wanted to laugh at the hijinks of these kids, there was plenty of meat.
A scant fifteen years later, the show is back as MTV ordered 22 episodes. The format has been largely kept. The difference is really in the video commentaries. As any snarkpot could tell you, MTV doesn’t play videos anymore. Indeed, with the Web, why would artists need videos on MTV? As such MTV no longer has a current cheap video library, so more often, we are left with the boys commenting on Jersey Shore episodes. This is a dropoff from the first version of the show – lets face it, Teen Mom has plenty to mock, but not enough actual cheesiness to be able to hoot and holler. The reality shows are more just generally pathetic than a satirical laugh a minute.
Fortunately though, while the video interludes are no longer inspired, the stories themselves still are. As has usually been the case, the episodes involve taking a kernel of an idea – for instance when the fellas learn about the idea of asking a father for his daughter’s hand – and riding it to a very logical conclusion, or at least logical if you are as stupid as Beavis and Butthead are. It is a savage view of teenagers and a world borne entirely from consuming television and shitty fast food – and in its spare visual style and story lines – the point of view is so sharply seen. In particular, the episode where they get inspired by a certain popular vampire movie is just ridiculously brilliant.