Hey baby, come here often? Uh huh uh, but really though. Have you rewatched any Beavis and Butt-Head lately? Parts of it hold up surpringly well. That being like seasons 3-6. Sure there is always that urge to start from the beginning, but hate to break it to ya, most of those episodes have not been rereleased in any official capacity. Then others have had the originals edited, so not exactly what you are looking for anyway. So where to start?
Most streaming options are the “Mike Judge Collection” which lacks a very integral part of the experience. They removed, likely for licensing reasons, the music video segments. In exchange you get three shorts per episode and no interruptions. The down side is you don’t get such fine content like this.
Luckily there are over 200 of these loaded up on YouTube. A perfect way to relive 90s music and highschool humor in one quick video. The music commentary segments still stay as my favorite part of the series, but that’s not to say the series wasn’t solid on it’s own. It’s kinda hard to pin down the show to a genre. Part slice of life, part variety show. It’s definitely a collection of skits. You slowly get to know the characters and the town overtime. It sorta grows on you. A lot like Mike Judge’s other show King of the Hill. It’s not about the stereotyping and mockery, rather it’s presenting a heightened but relatable slice of life for various types of people. You start to figure out their behaviors, likes and dislikes, what drives them. You start to see them as real people not just characters and catchphrases.
It’s why some people love Mike Judge’s work, and why others hate it. His shows are like antisimpsons. Not as in being openly hostile to the Simpsons or Family Guy, but rather more like it’s comedic opposite. Beavis and Butthead more so than the rest. It’s a window into the pre cellphone age. How a well meaning and easily impressionable idiot, Beavis, turns out when he is stuck with an arrogant know nothing with just enough street smarts to fake it, Butthead, and what a few random days will be for them. Not so much a show about character growth. Rather more about seeing the character underneath. There are a few moments where Beavis is removed from Butthead in one way or another and in those moments he really shines. He apologizes and legitimately seems unaware his actions are wrong. It shows how we let the people around us effect us. Is it a little bit of a reach? Not really, if I’m being honest here. That’s Mike Judge’s style. That and it is rarely the ficus of the series. Just a consistency to how the people will act in certain situations. In the Christmas special they did a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life. This showed clearly how negative an influence Butthead is to everyone around him. Now that alone is nice, but not the bigger picture to the series. It’s every character with everyone else. It’s subtle under the overwhelmingly stupid moments.
That is also a rare strength to the show. It’s blunt, very blunt, leaving little to the imagination with it’s dialogue. People are very frank and often annoyed with these two. Yet everyone treats them differently. More often than not the reaction to the situation will get the bigger laugh. Especially when the camera is pulling back, the boys are walking away, and we just hear someone losing their mind. Honestly it’s the reverse of most stories. As the little flaws that normally make you care about the people beyond just the show, those are not here. Instead it’s the glimpses of decency that makes the flaws seem believable. Outside of that, well it’s a comfortable little reminder of what things were like. Even if you weren’t a kid in the 90s, or in some cases alive in the 90s. It’s a window to an otherwise alien time. I was surprised to the extent nostalgia seemed heightened for things I only learned about way after. Jokes about Jim Fix, or whatever his name was, dying while jogging for example. It has this quality to it’s references that seem to be not so focused on the relevance or topical nature of it. Rather to understanding the reference at all. A show more about trying to get you to remember something not just strong arming you with a punchline.
The series rarely pulls the rug out from under you. What you see is what’s happening. Situations come up and play out and ultimately things stay largely the same. Is it a good show though? That’s tricky. It has some great moments, but when you take the entirety of it into account much like Cartoon Planet it starts to wear thin. I can recommend it fully for a watch if you haven’t seen it before. Just pace yourself. Also don’t forget the music videos. If you have already seen it then that makes this all the easier. Just watch some clips on YouTube first. See if your actually in the mood for that show or just feeling nostalgic. If it’s just nostalgia you were feeling then dive into something else. It’s strengths and peculiarities actually fight against it if you aren’t ready. Mike Judge is great at making a show that somehow grow along with you, even if it hasn’t had new episodes in a decade or so. I’d say it definitely deserves it’s legacy, but not it’s reputation.