Mike Judge’s Beavis & Butt-Head returns to Paramount+ for its second season in the format that made cultural icons out of its titular duo: two story vignettes per episode, plus commentary on music videos and, nowadays, assorted streaming media. Whether something is cool or totally sucks is still the central question. But Judge has also been having fun tweaking his main twosome, portraying them as their middle aged selves or even Beavis and Butt-Head in an alternate dimension. Paramount+ is your B & B-H content hub – in addition to this reboot, the streamer features both films, plus the classic MTV series.
MIKE JUDGE’S BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD: SEASON 2: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Those indifferent chuckles start before the first image hits. But once there’s an actual visual, it’s the familiar scene of Beavis and Butt-Head themselves, appearing in gilded frames, their outsized coifs a thing of satiric beauty. Inside their mirrors, they laugh at the absurdity of it all. Cue the theme song.
The Gist: Getting to serve your detention as part of Mr. Van Driessen’s yoga in the park class sounds like a pretty decent deal, but of course for Beavis and Butt-Head, it totally sucks. And yet, the boys have a certain quality that befits the discipline. These dudes’ brains as we know them are already a total blank. “Everyone concentrate on your mantra,” Van Driessen says to the class, and announces that he got a sweet deal on his Tibetan singing bowls at Cost Plus World Market. And because Beavis and Butt-Head’s minds are already empty of all things (except for the unified theory of boobs and butts and stuff), they achieve enlightenment and find themselves on the astral plane.
Welcomed by Buddha, the boys are also introduced to Ganesh, Jesus, Zeus, and Bill Gates, who’s mostly there because he donated to a bunch of buddhist nonprofits. The place of serenity, true wisdom, and freedom from desire then becomes completely shook as Beavis and Butt-Head manifest tortilla chips in the Buddha’s own set of Tibetan singing bowls, and introduce him to the dharma of nacho cheese.
On the couch at home, Beavis and Butt-Head take in Lil Nas X’s video for “Industry Baby,” and make fun of a metal-detecting YouTuber who uncovers mundane treasures in a suburban yard. But when a spinning wheel of death situation disrupts their aimless content intake, the boys venture out in search of a “strip club.” Needless to say, the “polling place” they find isn’t what they think it is.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The particular style of dunce cap worn by Beavis & Butt-Head has never really fit on any other series, animated or otherwise, and that indicates two things: the staying power of the characters’ hilarious stupidity, and that Mike Judge has been brilliant since Beavis and Butt-Head first appeared on MTV’s Liquid Television in 1992.
Our Take: There’s really no update needed here. The jokes in Beavis & Butt-Head are exactly the same, their T-shirts are the exactly same, the couch is exactly the same, and their propensity for gaining backhanded access to the places life takes them is, yes, exactly the same. Go ahead, laugh along as they haltingly employ new words – you know, like “pix-tel-lated,” or “mature,” which when they pronounce it sounds like “manure” – and hang with these goofs as they drop music video hot takes or a little bit of cultural commentary through the prism of Burger World’s drive-thru loudspeaker. Crack up at the image of their spindly legs poking out from beneath the voting booth curtain, and how they’re convinced that Ronald Reagan is a stripper who “shakes that ass.” (This is where they fall into their usual hip-hop music vid pantomime.) It’s all the same, and as comfortable as a well-thumbed joke book, because we basically haven’t stopped laughing at the dunderheaded antics of these two since the 1990s.
Sex and Skin: “Schlong,” “wank,” “hooters”: to call Beavis and Butt-Head’s vocabulary of prurience “sophomoric” would preclude that they ever actually listen in class.
Parting Shot: With “I Voted!” stickers slapped on their AC/DC and Metallica tees, Beavis and Butt-Head pause in front of a strip club that’s offering free admission for anyone who performed their civic duty. Naturally, they blow it off and keep walking…
Sleeper Star: Of course, the sleeper stars of any Beavis & Butt-Head iteration are all of those recurring characters with whom the boys periodically interact. Mr. Van Driessen appears in the first episode of season 2, the boys’ drug rugged hippie teacher who, while hapless, remains their most tireless supporter. Tom Anderson, another classic side character and sort of a Hank Hill version 1.0, will appear in later episodes. And we’re also hoping for a big comeback from Todd, the muscle car-driving neighborhood bully Beavis and Butt-Head both idolize.
Most Pilot-y Line: “Beavis,” Butt-Head says as he puts on his resigned, deeper register voice. “We’re about to get ‘all up in the club.’”
Our Call: STREAM IT. The teen kings of dumb logic are back for another season in the format that made them famous, and as Beavis and Butt-Head-y as you’ve always known, understood, and wanted them to be.
Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges