The first new episode of Beavis and Butt-Head since 1997 aired on MTV Thursday night. It started with that laugh, those moronic and iconic giggles of the grunge age and then that fuzz-heavy guitar riff.
When I heard it, it brought me back to a happy time. When my girlfriend heard it, she said I thought you we're going to watch this without me, and then she left the room. The same now as ever.
Creator Mike Judge -- probably more famous with MTV's current viewership for maybe Office Space or King of the Hill, but probably not famous at all -- kept things pretty much as they were 14 years ago. The picture is a little crisper, but the two characters and the basic structure of the show are the same. There were two short plot lines, interrupted by Beavis and Butt-Head watching TV and making fun of it.
The 2011 Beavis and Butt-Head season is part of a wave of 90s nostalgia spearheaded by Nickelodeon's new time-capsulized channel. My first experience with the show was in 1994 (the same year that Kurt Cobain shot himself, which seems noteworthy) when I watched it with my much older cousin. I didn't get it, nor did I get why the word wood was so hilarious, but he liked it, and I wanted to be like him, so I liked it, as it goes.
By the time I was really old enough to appreciate more than their silly voices and the show's slap-stick violence, it was in its last seasons. And my parents wouldn't let me watch it anyway, so I had to do it in secret, sitting next to my friend Jason on his red couch, giggling along as two people on a red couch made fun of music videos.
But, the restarting of Beavis and Butt-Head, those lovable idiots who are still just trying to score with chicks, is more than just nostalgia. It is cross-generational. Still AC/DC and Metallica shirted, Beavis and Butt-Head now watch Twilight movies and ridicule the Jersey Shore.
And that was strange. The best part about re-watching Beavis and Butt-Head in college was reliving the 1990s, especially the music videos: bands you'd forgotten about, songs you haven't heard in a decade, watching the duo try to figure out the new phenomenon of Rap. So when Beavis and Butt-Head start ripping on Jersey Shore, it was off putting.
Part of that is because not even the Jersey Shore takes itself seriously. Making fun of music videos, especially in the mid-90s, was so great because recording artists and music videos took themselves much too seriously. The world needed Beavis and Butt-Head to reveal their inherent absurdity. Jersey Shore was too easy. We're all already in on the joke. (Although Butt-Head's Grandma J-Woww joke was fantastic.)
However, when Beavis and Butt-Head began their game with True Life: I'm Addicted to Porn, I got it. It's not that Judge was adding TV shows to the roster to appeal to a new audience, it was that MTV now only played TV shows. In 1994, MTV was still Music Television, and Beavis and Butt-Head served as its ombudsmen.
The same is true now. Beavis and Butt-Head don't make fun of recording artists and pretentious videos, they make fun of the channel they are on. The fact that Judge left in any music videos at all is simply a nod to his original fans. Beavis and Butt-Head exists to keep MTV, and all of those who take shows like Teen Mom too seriously, in check.
The new Beavis and Butt-Head proves the old adage is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same.