Running Diary: The Return of Beavis and Butt-Head
Beavis and Butt-Head returned last night after its last episode aired fourteen years ago. For many, Beavis and Butt-Head were icons of a generation, symbolizing slacker culture. What non-viewers didn’t know, however, is the show is a lot more clever than it may seem. Much like South Park, the show started off crude and simple, getting shock value and lowbrow laughs, but it grew up with its audience, becoming one of the most clever comedies television has seen in quite a while, but somehow still being able to serve the initial lowbrow, shock value audience. The return of Beavis and Butt-Head, with the two still wearing their iconic AC/DC and Metallica shirts above their ridiculously short shorts, means a great deal to a lot of us — both because it symbolized our youth, and because, man, that show is hilarious.
Rather than a review, which would end up being one sentence long, “The show is still funny, go watch it,” we present a running diary while watching the episode written by someone who has a stack of Beavis and Butt-Head comics kept in great condition in a drawer, and can also draw Beavis in about fifteen seconds, but can’t draw anything else.
0:01: It is so good to hear that guitar riff after all these years. It feels like I have to wake up for school in the morning all over again. Oh, I have to wake up for work in the morning? Oh.
0:17: MTV actually has one of those ads that pop up from the bottom of the screen, but it tells you what show you are currently watching. I wasn’t sure. MTV saves the day.
0:28: Our heroes are sitting in a half empty movie theater full of swooning women, and Edward Cullen just appeared on the theater’s screen. Butt-Head: “Well, this isn’t very good.”
0:35: Beavis: “So, is Bella a zombie? She’s always just like standing there with her mouth open and she acts like she’s dead.”
0:53: Butt-Head: “How come everybody whispers in these movies?” Beavis: “They’re probably embarrassed.” Yes, they are laughing as much as they ever did. After fourteen years, Beavis and Butt-Head tackling Twilight feels like a good place to start.
1:09: Butt-Head leans over and repeats Jacob’s crappy lines to a woman sitting in the row in front of him. “I will fight for you until your heart stops beating. Could I have some of your popcorn?” He gets slapped and they get thrown out of the theater.
1:30: Our first scene with Mr. Van Driessen. Applause from my end. He claims Twilight follows in the footsteps of classic romantic literature, then Butt-Head wonders aloud why chicks like that crap. Van Driessen explains that the classic undead characters are true undead heros, making them forbidden, which makes them irresistible. Oh no.
2:13: Butt-Head: “Hey, how do you become a vampire?” Yep. Van Driessen gives the episode the ammunition it needs. Beavis: “Is that all? That should be easy enough.” Oh no again. The duo leave in the middle of class, as Butt-Head orders his blond companion to get the binoculars, because they’re going to score. Apparently, one cannot score without seeing a great distance.
2:33: Beavis: “I will be a denizen of the night.” His delivery just killed me. I had to pause.
2:40: Scene changes to the duo doing their iconic watching television riff tracks and Beavis immediately spouts his “fire” catchphrase, letting us all know that he’s allowed to say it on air. Relief. Text appears on their television over a backdrop of the aforementioned fire, and Beavis claims he’d read more if they put words on fire more. A true literate. Obviously, he begins to unwittingly support book burning.
3:16: Kind of weird, but I wonder if the duo will be able to watch a bunch of music videos now that music videos don’t happen on MTV anymore. Does anyone do music videos anymore? Are they still a thing?
3:48: They have determined that the video takes place in Florida because there are dead bodies and monsters. Butt-Head: “Florida sucks.”
4:35: They just talked about their iconic outfits. Fan service. It worked on me.
4:52: The pair are at a mall, and a woman just walked by. Butt-Head: “Hey baby, don’t go too far.” Beavis: “We’re gonna be vampires pretty soon.” They’re using the binoculars to look for vampires. Also girls.
5:09: Beavis wants to be a mummy, but wonders if they even bite. Butt-Head spots a hairy homeless man with his binoculars and identifies him as a werewolf. I love Beavis and Butt-Head. Beavis confirms, “That’s definitely a werewolf.”
5:34: After observing the homeless man’s ramblings and erratic behavior, Beavis: “How come there aren’t any women in his lair?” Died again. Butt-Head: “They’re probably out doing his bidding.”
6:00: After they walk up to the homeless man and listen to his half incomprehensible ramblings, Butt-Head: “Thank you oh great master for sharing your wisdom. But, uh, we were wondering, like, if you could like, bite us.” Homeless man: “You’ve got a dollar?” Butt-Head: “We’ve got gum.” The homeless man proceeds to bite the duo everywhere he possibly can. Butt-Head: “And now, let the transformation begin.”
6:55: The police roll up after the duo leave, and we find out the homeless man has “Hep C and god knows what else.”
7:05: Beavis, audibly weaker: “Are we werewolves yet?” If anything represents Beavis and Butt-Head, it’s the past minute. Butt-Head: “I think the transformation is complete.” Beavis: “Welp, let’s go get some girls.” He tries howling, but ends up coughing a bunch.
7:38: Oh no, instead of a music video for the riff track, it’s Jersey Shore.
7:53: Beavis: “Is she gonna call her grandkids ‘bitch?'” Butt-Head: “You’re the best grandma ever, J-wow.” I think having Beavis and Butt-Head deal with modern day media will go just fine.
9:08: Butt-Head: “Damnit, this is another one of the episodes where they don’t have sex and they don’t fight.” I wonder how he’d feel about the Internet.
9:28: As the two are crawling along a strip mall, Butt-Head: “Being a werewolf hurts my bones.” Beavis: “It makes my eyes hurt.”
9:34: The two realize the physical pain of being a werewolf will be worth enduring when they’re scoring, a simple idea that somewhat crudely encapsulates the motivation behind life. Futurama put it best when it said the reason why anyone does anything is to impress those they’re attracted to.
9:45: Girls notice the duo, and they decide to call a homeless shelter rather than ignore our heroes. Of course, Beavis and Butt-Head think their newly earned werewolf powers have lured the girls to them. Maybe they’ve learned the secret of attracting people: Pretend to be homeless then blindside them with your home ownership after they’ve initiated conversation. Also, how in the world do those two actually own that house?
10:07: The two girls come over to the boys. Butt-Head: “I will fight for you, until your heart stops beating.” Beavis is howl-coughing.
10:18: The girls get Beavis and Butt-Head to a hospital, where it is revealed they have many, many terrible diseases, including each lettered Hepatitis. Doctor: “It’s amazing these two are even alive.” That’s the thing about Beavis and Butt-Head. For how dumb they are, and how many ridiculous, terrible situations they get themselves into, they’re nigh-invincible, giving them a somewhat legendary quality. Sure, many characters get into tight situations and somehow escape — Indiana Jones, John McClane — but not many characters actually suffer the consequences of their stupidity but also manage to somehow survive them. Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin come close, but they tend to be invincible to the consequences as well. Homer Simpson doesn’t get Hepatitis A, B and C.
10:32: A nurse tells the doctor that even though the two are medical marvels, she doesn’t want to change their catheter again because she swears they start giggling. The doctor assures her that isn’t possible because Beavis and Butt-Head are in deep comas. Absolutely perfect. And there is the iconic end-of-the-episode guitar riff.
11:15: Back to the riff tracks. While watching a music video where a small child is using telekinesis to beat up some sweaty-looking guy in a coat, Beavis reveals he has an innate ability to detect child molesters and that it is good the child can defend against the child molester.
11:58: Butt-Head, on why the seeming child molester would be calling the cops in the video: “He’d be like, ‘I told my niece we couldn’t go see Smurfs again, and then she like, started warping space and time.'”
12:20: Second episode. The pair are watching what seems to be some reality show, commenting that the sensitive guy on screen is, of course, a wuss. They’re eating chili dogs and Beavis finds what he thinks is a vegetable. He is horrified. It is an onion, and the fumes make him tear up during the sensitive guy’s speech. Uh oh. Butt-Head notices.
13:02: Butt-Head chides, “You’re moved.”
13:15: Riff tracks. They’re watching True Life. Addicted to porn episode. Perfect.
13:43: The guy the episode follows smokes cigars while he watches porn. He also lives with his grandma. Beavis and Butt-Head think he is awesome.
14:17: The guy is trying to get a job, and Beavis and Butt-Head wonder what kinds of jobs he can get. Beavis: “He can get a job washing dishes with one hand. Mowing the lawn with one hand.”
14:56: Beavis: “Pornography? What’s that?” Butt-Head: “Uh, I think that’s like the study of porn.” Beavis: “Oh yeah. This guy is a pornologist.”
15:28: We’re back with our legendary heroes, in class, one day after the crying incident. Butt-Head announces Beavis’ new emotion to the class.
16:00: At lunch and we see Stewart for the first time in forever. More applause. Butt-Head continues announcing Beavis’ crying to everyone he can.
16:32: A week later. I see where this is going. Butt-Head won’t drop it, even though Beavis is trying to talk about hot mannequins. Butt-Head assures him it is okay to be touched. And that he is a wuss.
17:09: A month later. Yay, Buzzcut! More applause from me. Butt-Head asks what would happen if Beavis starts crying during rope climbing exercises.
17:46: Butt-Head: “It’s okay to cry, Beavis. Crying takes the sad out of you.”
17:50: Riff tracks. Some weird dance video. Butt-Head likes it. I don’t, so much. Our heroes are discussing economics now, because they feel the people on screen are rich. Butt-Head: “It’s too bad we weren’t born as them.” Beavis: “How come we were born as us?” This is getting deep, except it is absolutely hilarious because it is Beavis and Butt-Head talking about it, complete with patented laughs and Mike Judge’s perfect delivery of slackerdom.
19:21: 80 years later. Old folks home. Like I was saying before, if Beavis and Butt-Head weren’t completely invulnerable, it’d be amazing that they were alive 80 years later, much less tomorrow. We’ve seen them old before, so this is some fun fan service on top of integral to the joke.
19:50: Butt-Head’s final words before he dies: “Hey, Beavis. You were crying.” Beavis: “I’m serious. I was not crying, Butt-Head.” Butt-Head dies, keeling over on the floor while sad music blares. Beavis: “I’m not crying now either.”
End: I feel warm, and not because my launch PlayStation 3 is turned on and my room is small. It’s similar to the feeling when Futurama came back from cancellation all these years later, except many of us grew up with Beavis and Butt-Head, and were already grown up when shows that were canceled came back to life after a while, like Futurama and Family Guy.
Mike Judge’s original opus about slacker culture and an ignorant society is back, and judging from this first episode, it is as good as it was the day it left us in a huh-huhless, heh-hehless world.