The iconic horndog slackers face a strange new world in their TV and film revival
Iconic idiots Beavis and Butt-Head are crashing Paramount+ with a brand-new movie, classic seasons of their smash MTV series and a freshly revived season of brutal pratfalls and bonehead innuendo as Mike Judge returns to cartoon comedy with the launch of Bandera, a new animation company he founded with King of the Hill co-creator Greg Daniels in January.
Select episodes from seasons 3-11 have been trickling onto the Paramount+ roster for months, along with the 1993 feature film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America and its 2022 sequel Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, ridiculous bookends to an equally ridiculous canon that’s proving to be as hardy as a roach with a gas mask. The show about two amoral slackers was a major driver behind MTV’s explosive success in the early 90’s, enjoying seven seasons of nut-shots and nachos before bashing into the first of two cancellations and finally ending after 11 seasons of short-form mayhem. Now for the first time in decades, the boys are enjoying a retro reboot on the backs of a new batch of butterfly-clip-wearing nihilists consuming all things 90’s.
Do the Universe picks up a couple years after 1996’s Do America, where the boys are sentenced to space camp at NASA after burning down a science fair. Thanks to a misunderstanding couched in an excruciating 20-minute double entendre about spaceship docking, our brainless heroes blast off on what they believe is a mission to score with its captain (Andrea Savage). When things go bad in zero gravity, however, the captain abandons the boys and they’re sucked through a wormhole (heheheh… hole) and into the modern world.
Their continuing mission, in a stunning act of willful ignorance, is to track down the captain for the promised score— “for all mankind,” intones Beavis. But the captain is now running for political office – and she’ll go to deadly lengths to keep her decades-old attempted murder hidden. With the NSA hot on their heels, the boys monkeyknuckle smartphones, roast ASMR and TikTok videos, and learn about white male privilege in a gender studies class—only to use it as carte blanche to be even more terrible and destructive. Instead of chugging caffeine to become Cornholio, Beavis horks fistfuls of pills.
Judge himself calls the movie “the dumbest science fiction movie ever made,” but he pulls a stupid-smart trick: thrusting two politically incorrect hormonal halfwits into 2022 without maturing at all, and still finding humor that hits. The film’s technology mirrors the old-meets-new theme, using advanced software to preserve B&B’s old-school hand-drawn look.
The first two episodes of the reboot season, released on Paramount+ on August 4, are further proof that Judge’s writing and producing chops are as consistent as ever. In their perennial efforts to score, the boys try out an escape room but wander into a restroom instead–becoming trapped and relying on their wits to get out. And pyro Beavis finally meets his hero in the form of a demonic-looking dumpster fire that bids Beavis do his will: but instead of a brutal sacrifice or a dark act of evil, the fire commands him to exercise and recycle.
As Judge told Indiewire, he didn’t have to do much creative stretching to fit the crass chuckleheads into a more socially conscious era. “I watched the old episodes and just thought about how eternal the idea was. Fifteen-year-old males really haven’t changed that much in hundreds of years. There are some things that don’t have anything to do with what time period you’re in.”
Judge, who holds a bachelor’s degree in physics (and whose corporate culture he skewered in 1999’s Office Space), has always pushed animated boundaries: he co-founded The Animation Show with Don Hertzfeld in 2003, a festival that according to IMDb “put more animated short films into more North American movie theaters than any other in history.” He hasn’t stopped churning out stories since KOTH ended in 2008 after 13 seasons, writing Idiocracy in 2006, directing the 2009 comedy Extract, and creating TV series Silicon Valley from 2014-2019. Judge dominated cross-genre comedy and struck gold by skewering wildly different American subcultures, from slacker teens to wholesome country families to frustrated white-collar paper pushers.
Now Judge is aiming to expand animation into lesser-explored genres with over a dozen interesting projects reportedly in the works at Bandera – including a King of the Hill revival. Judge and Daniels are also reportedly working with Sacha Baron Cohen on a Michael Koman-written children’s series called Chelm: The Smartest Place on Earth, set to stream on HBO Max.