With the recent resurgence of ’90s animated classics on TeenNick, the inner child of many self-proclaimed “ ’90s kids” is indulging in the late-night misadventures of “Doug” ’s Quailman and revisiting the halls of P.S. 118, echoing the cries of “Hey Arnold!” But what about the ’90s teen: the Nirvana-listening, flannel-wearing, door-slamming adolescent misfit? Thanks to new episodes being created for MTV, television once again channels the understated teen angst of years past in the form of two very familiar faces: Beavis and Butt-head.
Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-head
Season Nine Premiere
Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Startlingly simple in execution compared to the flashy innovation of recent animated series and movies, “Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-head” is a bizarre relic that requires time and more than a little patience to adjust to. Aside from their permanently befuddled expressions, Beavis and Butt-head’s voices are a grating and guttural muddle of mindless murmurs and incessant snickers.
As illustrated in the second episode’s sketch, “Daughter’s Hand,” the plots are simple and slow, replacing the typical Hollywood conflict-resolution storyline with a 10-minute mess. Mistaking the custom of asking for a daughter’s “hand” in marriage as a request for sexual deeds, the hormonally stricken buffoons do little more than ring a disgruntled father’s doorbell for the duration of the scene. The sketch is a constant stream of decently funny innuendo — nothing surprising or original. Maybe the new millennium is no place for a couple of cackling boneheads.
But despite a slow start, “Beavis and Butt-head” finds its way into the viewer’s heart — that one ventricle that forever stores the mindset of a 15-year-old boy and his repressed love for all things immature. The obnoxious chuckling evolves into an accepted background noise as the humor takes precedence. Simply put, Beavis and Butt-head grow on you.
In another sketch, “Tech Support,” the boys, in search of an abandoned drive-in, play the role of unintelligible phone-operator for Co Tech, a computer company plagued by hordes of dissatisfied callers. Between their hilariously careless antics and an over-eager co-worker, the titular characters easily achieve as many laughs as if their show were a “high-brow” comedy.
The characters’ humor is highlighted in their classic commentary on pop culture’s most talked-about music videos and television clips. Like a peek into the locker room of boys’ brains, Beavis and Butt-head provide a ruthless stream of reactions, acting as the collective voice of an equally incredulous America.
Taking aim at MTV hits like “True Life” and “Teen Mom,” the boys poke fun at scenes of a lazy, unemployed “baby-daddy,” gazing out of a window. They joke, “See, he’s looking for a job!” and “Yeah, I’d hire him.” Who knew MTV had such a sense of humor?
As a piece of social commentary parading as mindless humor, “Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-head” uses the simplicity and clever blatancy of the show’s previous success to reign in a new generation. In the words of Beavis himself: “That sounds cool. Heh. Heh. Heh.”