Just imagine how long Mike Judge has been waiting for his chance at Morgan Spurlock. Or for that matter, any aughts-era cultural phenomena. Fortunately, the rules of time and space don’t apply in animation, and Beavis And Butt-Head 2.0 can ostensibly have its protagonists rove the 14-year landscape of their absence like an even more aimless Bill and Ted.
Although, in a rare exception to what’s become the usual pattern, this week’s back-end was funnier than its opening skit. That’s fitting enough, given that “Bathroom Break” begins and ends with Butt-Head’s epiphany that lavatory breaks are compensated. It’s such a winningly simple premise—idiots work at fast-food joint, discover they’re on the clock while shitting, camp out for hours in the crapper—and a nice break from the season’s predominantly topical lean, including the otherwise excellent “Supersize Me.” And as it becomes apparent just how many would-be paying customers are going under-served, B and B’s dyslexic business sense can’t help but evoke memories of Arrested Development’s Maeby Funke snatching singles for every frozen banana she tosses.
“Bathroom Break” also offered solid evidence that their video commentary outwits the Jersey Shore and teen-reality bits peppering “Supersize Me,” which might also underscore what differentiates lesser sketches in general. A la their playful barbs in the direction of Cage the Elephant, MGMT, and other recent selections, almost every set-up and ensuing punchline throughout Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ absurd “Kisses Over Babylon” clip was a spit-taker. Hard to say what was spot-on more hysterical: Beavis mimicking a verse in what was essentially freestyle Cornholio, or Butt-Head cannily interpreting the prisoners’ escape as a reaction against, not inspired by, Sharpe’s messianic chanting.
Some viewers get impatient with Beavis and Butt-Head’s lack of critical discretion, but it’s not as if they were ever written to have a prescient musical ear. That’s something audiences might project onto the characters. The likelier scenario is that Judge and his music supervisors cherry-pick videos they at least find inherently interesting, and Beavis and Butt-Head allow them to observe something trendy or obscure in passing with objective distance and good-spirited humor. That’s harder to accomplish with Jersey Shore, Teen Cribs, et al, partly because it’s more important for Judge to demonstrate that these oblivious burnouts are literate in Gorilla-speak than to have them free-associate what’s so curious about it.
It’s hard to quibble, though. “Supersize Me” was a vicious assail on closet-bigot opportunists like Spurlock, and without the uber-heavy, timely subtext of last week’s “Drones.” Mr. Van Driessen was also a standout. In “Drones,” he was an unexpectedly sobering voice of activist sense, but in “Supersize,” he’s a patsy once again, representing a nation of apologist intellectuals who make it possible for exploiters like Spurlock to pass as righteous crusaders. None of which could be taken too seriously when every shot of Beavis and Butt-Head captured them getting progressively more overweight and grotesque, easily the rebooted series’ best visual gag.
“Supersize Me” and “Bathroom Break” make a great tandem, collectively striking just the right chords of satire, idiocy, classic B And B-isms and a little bit of Judge’s blackened anger. Premature withdrawal for the season’s end is already settling in, but if this week is any indication, the best and most hilarious episodes may have been saved for last.
- My favorite moments/lines: “Superize Me”: “Ladies beware”; “I feel kind of sexy”; “We’re eating in front of you.”; “I don’t even understand what the problem is with teen obesity. This is great.” "Bathroom Break": “Yeah, I took a long poop.”; :Oh, no no no no no.”; “That Christ is something else. I didn’t know he had it in him.”; “Wait a minute, don’t escape yet, I have one more verse.”; “Donde esta la biblioteca.”; Both their imitations of Sharpe singing.
- Was I the only one who thought of George Costanza rationalizing the mystique of “Ma” and “Newer” when Beavis made his crack about the guy saying “Muff” and “In”?
- Were the Burger World manager and white-trash customer in the sleeveless white tee from the original series, or was I imaging things?
- Loved the moaning customers lamenting “Oh, god” when the lefty lawyer came to Beavis and Butt-Head’s defense. Angry Judge.
- LOVED the little jab at Super Size Me’s promo poster when Butt-Head had the fries shoved in his mouth.
- My wife Colleen's two cents: “I hate fat them.”