‘This sucks – again’: did anyone need the return of Beavis and Butt-Head? | Television

TThe tragedy of the Great Intellectual Property Looting is that at some point they will come for all of us. Anyone who has ever even briefly starred in a Star Wars movie is now doomed to spend their days nervously at home, awaiting the inevitable call that their character has received their own joyless identikit Disney+ spin-off series. As the streaming era continues to predatorily cannibalize the past for new content, no IP address is safe.

As such, there is a new Beavis and Butt-Head series. While the creator, Mike Judge, has proven time and time again to be smart enough to reinvent himself in brand new forms when the need arises (King of the Hill, Office Space, Idiocracy, Silicon Valley), the commercial demands of the newly launched Paramount+ means even he finds himself going over old ground.

And Beavis and Butt-Head is such a weird choice for a reboot. It was a defiant product of its age – that age was the 1990s, when MTV was in its untouchable prime and all sorts of scruffy indie bands had found themselves in such a position of authority that they could be mocked on television by a bunch of horny, chuckling cartoon characters. This is where Beavis and Butt-Head made a name for themselves, in segments where they ridiculed entire careers by mocking music videos. “If you play this backwards, it says ‘This sucks’”, they mock INXS. “They’ve got to get somebody out there and start kicking these guys,” they giggled during New Kids on the Block’s Hangin’ Tough. It was fun, and God knows it was popular, but it was 30 years ago.

Beavis and Butt-Head creator Mike Judge at ComicCon, San Diego, last month.
Beavis and Butt-Head creator Mike Judge at ComicCon, San Diego, last month. Photo: Rob Latour/Rex/Shutterstock for Paramount+

It couldn’t be any different now. The music industry has come to such a standstill that the biggest hit of the summer is a 37-year-old Kate Bush song that was featured on a Netflix show about a girl who runs away from a monster. What could Beavis and Butt-Head mock in 2022 without the material provided to them by self-respecting pop stars?

The answer is inevitably TikToks. And, to be honest, this makes a lot of sense. The people who need to drain most urgently are pompous and smoothing and utterly selfish. Three decades ago, those people joined bands. Now they have become influencers. And so this version of Beavis and Butt-Head comes littered with segments where the pair watches viral videos about things like making your own prison tattoos, and lightly mocks the accent of the idiot who tells the internet how to do it. They lay inside a woman making ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response videos). And, as with the original, the spot is so upbeat that you find yourself cheering them on a bit.

Watch a trailer for Beavis and Butt-Head

Honestly, a music video pops up every now and then, but it’s clear their heart isn’t really in it. In episode two, the two watch a BTS video. However, stripped of juvenile gimmicks, the commentary is ultimately about how much Beavis enjoys BTS’s music. In case you were wondering, he likes it enough to bounce on his couch. Music videos no longer have the currency they once had, so Beavis and Butt-Head no longer seem particularly interested in wasting their energy on them.

Of course, the Mystery Science Theater segments were never the only parts of Beavis and Butt-Head. There were also animated skits about them wandering through suburban people. These are also present and correct in the reboot, with the pair messing up an escape room and causing chaos with a box of bees. They deviate, but their nature is weird and creepy. Everything about Beavis and Butt-Head, from the voices to the animation style to the costumes, is firmly stuck in the 90s. Did escape rooms exist in the 90s? TikTok done? When should this be set?

Beavis and Butt-Head was a phenomenon. The most watched MTV show of its time, it inspired movies, spin-offs and imitators. The characters became cultural icons. They could have died at the top of the hill. But here they are, flung without fanfare to a streaming service no one asked for.

Paramount+ costs £7 per month. Even the world’s most nostalgic Generation X’ers ​​can’t justify spending that on watching a 59-year-old man vote some teens mean over an ASMR video. Perhaps it would have been better to leave things as they are.

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