Kids, you’re probably too young to remember it, but there was a time when it was considered somewhat outrageous to say that something “sucked” on TV and when mocking a channel’s content on that channel itself was unusual, rather than the default mode of 90% of cable. That time was the ’90s, and the prime examplar of that sensibility, Mike Judge’s meta-cartoon comedy Beavis and Butt-Head, is returning to MTV this summer, the channel announced yesterday.
This worries me. Not because I hate Beavis and Butt-Head; in fact, I proudly put it on my list of 100 All-TIME TV Shows a few years ago and I would again. But while I fervently hope that a remake of the show will be cool, I fear that it will suck.
It’s not that a show like Beavis would lack for material these days. (A new version, I would guess, would spend as much time mocking MTV’s reality shows as the old one did its videos.) But the series was such a signal comedy of its time and generation that it feels like it would be out of place. There’s something definitively Generation X about B&B’s sarcastic, dismissive attitude—that dystopic, Mike-Judgean picture of a culture in decline that simultaneously derided the content of MTV and the soft, underchallenged audience watching it.
Judge perfected that attitude in Beavis and Butt-Head—which, besides being a satire was also a great, broad-strokes character comedy about working-class America—and later in the movie Idiocracy. But I’m not sure if it has a place in the ethos of MTV today, which assumes that its Millennial audience is positive, accepting and laughs with Pauly and The Situation as much as it laughs at them.
I’ll just say it: Beavis and Butt-Head could be too much of a show for old people, like me.
Obviously, that’s a generalization; it seems B&B still have teen and twentysomething fans, maybe enough to make the new show a hit (though whether it still seems as relevant is another question). And it’s definitely apt that the show should return in the year of Skins (whose cast made the Beavis announcement at MTV’s upfront presentation to advertisers yesterday), which itself is a kind of throwback to the ’90s. In that decade, after all, MTV got more attention for scripted shows (like the controversial-in-its-time Beavis) and people were more scandalized by TV dramas, like NYPD Blue, than by reality shows.
But if Cornholio’s time truly has come again, can we get a remake of Daria, too?: