If MTV didn’t burn Mike Judge out after four years of Beavis and Butt-Head‘s original 1993-97 run, the show might still be going today. That’s how durable the show’s fairly simple idea of “idiots being idiots” is. Of course, if the show kept going, we might not have gotten King Of The Hill, Office Space, Idiocracy or Silicon Valley. It does seem like it’s a perfect time for the boys to come back since a brief revival in 2011; don’t we all need to laugh at these two dimbulbs?
Opening Shot: After the classic intro where Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced by Mike Judge) snicker at each other, we see the two in front of an escape room business, putting school-sized milk cartons in the road for cars to run over. Two girls inside want to use the room but are told they need two more in the group.
The Gist: Yep, Judge’s large-headed, metal-loving idiots are back for more adventures for the first time since 2011.
In the first episode, the girls that want to use the escape room recruit Beavis and Butt-Head to be their third and fourth in the group. “You guys are smart, right?” one of the girls asks. “Yep,” says Butt-Head. “That’s why you asked us, m’lady.” The boys go ahead while the girls pay, but because they don’t know their right from left, they end up in the men’s room. Of course, they think that’s the escape room, and they try to figure out how to get out — because Beavis can’t push a door that says “pull.”
The second story of the first episode is Beavis and his other best friend, Fire (Piotr Michael). He sees a Dumpster on fire behind a restaurant, and Fire commands him to do things like recycle bottles left in the alley, run around a track four times, and other things that Beavis doesn’t want to do.
In between scenes, the boys watch and make fun of a video of a girl finding out she was accepted to Harvard, a TikTok by a guy who details how to make prison tattoo ink, and the video for Cale Dodd’s “I Like Where This Is Going.”
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? There aren’t many shows you can compare Beavis and Butt-Head to, since it was wholly original when it debuted on MTV in 1993.
Our Take: We laughed our asses off at Beavis and Butt-Head during our late college and early-adulting days when Judge’s series first hit MTV, and the show hasn’t really changed that much all these years later. The animation around the dim-witted teens has gotten a little more sophisticated, and it seems that Judge and his animators and writers like putting some inside jokes and Easter eggs in their animation — the worker at the escape room is voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos but looks like comedian Scott Seiss, for instance. But the show just feels like a continuation of the series instead of something new.
In this case, that’s OK. When the episodes basically have Beavis and Butt-Head being the snickering morons they are, the show completely works. For instance, the second episode has the pair stuck in a cardboard box that they decide to hide in and so they can get their drill (!) back from hippie teacher Mr. Van Driessen (also voiced by Judge). They also encounter Van Driessen in a farmer’s market and find out from him and his wife that you can make money getting honey from bees. So what do they do? They find a wasp’s nest at Tom Anderson’s house, mistake it for a beehive, and take it home.
Why do we laugh so much at B and B’s misfortune? For some reason, one of our biggest laughs was seeing Beavis rolling around getting stung by wasps after smacking the nest with a rake. It might be because Judge isn’t trying to say anything deeper than the fact that these horny dudes are dopes who do dopey things, and it’s OK to laugh at the results of those dopey things. It’s an axiom of cartoons going all the way back to the days of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry.
We are definitely looking forward to episodes where Beavis and Butt-Head are middle-aged, horny idiots, which is something Judge has mentioned in interviews for this new iteration. We were a little disappointed we didn’t see that in the two episodes Paramount+ made available; it’ll be fun to see what these guys are like aged up 30 years.
Of course, where the two of them shine is when they’re sitting on the couch making fun of videos. In 2022, that means less music videos and more stuff from YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. But when they do make fun of music videos, it’s still pretty funny, especially when Beavis yells “Yes!” when he sees a BTS video, much to Butt-Head’s surprise and disappointment. Somehow, the two of them become clever when they do this; we always bought into this inconsistency, and we do it now, mainly because Judge and his writers are so good at making fun of those videos.
Sex and Skin: The boys are horny as all get-out and talk about sex and “wanking it,” but we know they’re never going to get anywhere.
Parting Shot: Beavis is so annoyed by Fire’s commands he has the restaurant worker put him out. “That fire sucked!” he says. Then he finds a lighter on the ground, flicks it, and says “Fire!” and snickers as he walks down the alley.
Sleeper Star: Judge does most of the voices, so he’s the sleeper star of this show. Given all he does on this show, it’s not a surprise that the pace of production in the ’90s burned him out.
Most Pilot-y Line: “You will read Call Of The Wild and write a two page report on it!” Fire commands Beavis, which is when Beavis goes to have him extinguished. That fire was no fun.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Mike Judge’s Beavis And Butt-Head is more or less the same show that was such a hit in the ’90s. And because it’s about idiots doing dumb things, the funny stuff will always be funny, no matter what decade it is.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.