Recommended: Beavis and Butt-Head on Paramount+
What's new and what's changed?
Nothing's changed! Nothing!! The two cartoon dumbasses are back in their element, going on adventures when they're not making fun of music videos. They even get to say the F word again: fire!
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
Of all the things to leap from the mind of Mike Judge over the past three decades, none has gotten as much attention as Beavis And Butt-Head. Back in the 90s, it was already MTV's number one show when it gained even more notoriety after a bogus news story claimed an episode inspired a young fire-starter. That led network executives to ban any use of the word "fire" in future cartoons. (They also scrubbed the word from earlier Beavis episodes. It was said even the master tapes were bowdlerized.)
Well, that's all in the past, as the fantastic new episode, "Fire," starring Beavis and a flaming dumpster, will attest. Gone, too, are the MTV executives who failed to pick up the show's 2011 revival for more seasons, even though it was the channel's No. 2-ranked program behind Jersey Shore. (Judge was told that Beavis And Butt-Head wasn't reaching MTV's target demo of young females.)
In 2020 Comedy Central announced that it had asked Judge to "reimagine" his signature show "for a whole new Gen Z world." But again, those were cable days. Now that he's working for a giant streaming platform, it appears Judge hasn't reimagined anything. (And the series has already been guaranteed a second season to boot.)
There are still two shorts per half hour, each with a story highlighting Beavis and Butt-Head's gobsmacking denseness (e.g., they decide to raise bees to make money, but they don't know bees from wasps). These are interrupted at random moments by scenes of the boys sitting in front of the TV making fun of music videos and popular YouTubers. As our Jon Hein writes, this is a revival done right.
Oddly, TV seems to make the boys smarter. When they're making fun of videos, they use more complex vocabulary and think more deeply than when they're out in the world. (Relatively speaking, of course.) This is as close as Judge comes to tipping his hand, but the reality is that the show's appeal comes less from any deeper statement on TV culture than from its relatability. There's a little piece of these doofuses in all of us.
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