Beavis and Butt-Head Are TV’s Perfect Comedy Duo

There’s never been a better time for Beavis and Butt-Head. Mike Judge’s destructively idiotic duo are returning on Paramount+ and they’re the heroes that TV comedy needs in 2022. The comedy landscape has changed significantly, but they haven’t. Everyone can laugh at Beavis and Butt-Head, because everyone understands that they’re equal opportunity offenders who can’t even take themselves seriously.

Beavis and Butt-Head have persisted for 30 years for a reason: their humor is universal. They weren’t the first to destroy videos; MTV’s Julie Brown did it on Just Say Julie starting in 1988, which was the same year Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiered in Minnesota. What made the two teenage dolts remarkable was how they made viewers laugh. Fans laughed with them but also at them; for every burn they scored on someone else, they did something even dumber. Some of their best moments had nothing to do with the videos, such as Beavis getting up in the middle of Wilco to make pancakes.

RELATED: Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe Includes a Pretty Perfect Daria Reference

Judge is such a great humorist because he excellently skewers the things everybody wants to make fun of. From his cult classic Office Space to the possibly also returning King of the Hillhe says what everyone is thinking — only better. Beavis and Butt-Head did that for the often pretentious world of music videos, while also sending up teen TV at the same time. They were the antithesis of the ’90s sitcom teens. Comedy is more complex now, but everyone can see the humor in the duo thinking they were drunk on non-alcoholic beer or mocking Live drummer Chad Gracey for aimlessly wandering around in the band’s “I Alone” video.

Beavis and Butt-Head are consistently snarky, often rude and sometimes offensive, but they make fun of things that deserve it, and they always get their comeuppance. The stories never glorify their behavior; in fact, it’s pretty clear that Beavis and Butt-Head are always in trouble and usually looked down upon, with the exceptions of Mr. Van Driessen and Stewart. They get their shots in, and then they get stuck in a copy machine or deported to Mexico. The show is a place where every TV fan can come and laugh at one aspect or another. It may be the commentaries, it might be the characters’ dumb behavior or it could be something else entirely.

RELATED: Peggy Hill is King of the Hill’s Best Character

Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head is sticking with that same idea. In the recently released preview clip, the joke isn’t the obvious “Beavis likes fire,” it’s that Beavis hates fire for wanting him to better himself. His interest in any kind of meaningful activity is so low that he’ll even turn on the one thing he loves. There’s always that extra layer to the humor. The same is true in Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, in which Butt-Head seemed to genuinely experience a degree of remorse for treating Beavis so badly. The jokes are still ultimately on them; the difference with this revival is that they’re getting just that little bit of extra depth to give Judge and the writers new idiosyncracies to make fun of.

If there’s a downside, it’s that the 2022 revival is keeping the 2011 show’s habit of riffing things other than music videos. There are still some videos, including some huge hits, but even they can’t make a kid’s college reaction video entertaining. That’s because no viewer cares about which college Mary got into; that’s a personal thing, whereas the music videos are relatable. Even if someone doesn’t know the band, they probably know or them. While comedy has become more specific and more self-conscious, Beavis and Butt-Head welcome everyone and can’t even compute what anyone else is thinking. They were everybody’s strange friends — and they still are today.

Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head Premieres Aug. 4 on Paramount+.

Leave a Comment