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The ViacomCBS-owned cable network is reviving Beavis and Butt-Head, with series creator Mike Judge returning to relaunch and reimagine the franchise as part of a sizable deal that includes a two-season order and plans for additional spinoffs and specials.
Judge will return as the show’s central driving force and will write, produce and provide voices for both of the iconic characters, who became pop culture sensations in the early 1990s on Comedy Central’s corporate sibling MTV.
In the new incarnation, Beavis and Butt-Head will enter a “whole new Gen Z world” with meta-themes that are said to be relatable to both new fans, who may be unfamiliar with the original series, and old.
“We are thrilled to be working with Mike Judge and the great team at 3 Arts again as we double down on adult animation at Comedy Central,” said Chris McCarthy, who oversees ViacomCBS’ entertainment and youth group as president. “Beavis and Butt-Head were a defining voice of a generation, and we can’t wait to watch as they navigate the treacherous waters of a world lightyears from their own.”
The new take on the teenage couch potatoes comes less than 10 days after Comedy Central became the home of Jodie, the adult animated series that is a spinoff of Daria, which itself was an offshoot of Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head. Beavis and Butt-Head, like the Tracee Ellis Ross-led Jodie, hails from MTV Studios, the in-house division launched two years ago by McCarthy with a goal to monetize the company’s vast library and sell to third-party buyers. With McCarthy now overseeing Comedy Central, MTV and a slew of other cable brands at the company, he’s now turning the studio into a content supplier of his own.
Beavis and Butt-Head originally launched as part of MTV’s Liquid Television in 1992 before being turned into a series a year later. The show would run between 25 and 50 original episodes a year through 1997 before being revived for an eighth season in 2011. A feature film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, debuted in 1996 and grossed $63 million domestically on a budget of $12 million. Judge’s unadulterated satirical look at Gen X became a pop culture phenomenon, complete with merchandising lines including comic books and multiple video games as well as a spinoff, Daria. The series is known to have inspired Trey Parker and Matt Stone to create South Park.
“It seemed like the time was right to get stupid again,” Judge quipped of Beavis and Butt-Head‘s return.
The deal with Judge marks a homecoming for the prolific comedy creator, who launched his career with the series before going on to write and direct features Office Space and Idiocracy as well as Fox series King of the Hill and HBO’s live-action Emmy-winning comedy Silicon Valley. The Beavis and Butt-Head pact is in addition to his rich overall deal with WarnerMedia-backed HBO, where he has been based for years. Under that deal, Judge is already working on two series — QualityLand and limited entry A5
For its part, Comedy Central continues to ramp up its animated offerings with Beavis and Butt-Head joining Jodie as well as veteran South Park. The cabler is also the home of syndicated repeats of adult animated series including BoJack Horseman, Judge’s King of the Hill and Seth MacFarlane’s The Cleveland Show. (It’s worth noting that Judge and co-creator Greg Daniels had “preliminary conversations” with Fox for a King of the Hill revival in 2017.)
This is McCarthy’s second major programming acquisition for Comedy Central since he took over from former network president Kent Alterman as part of a larger ViacomCBS executive consolidation. Since then, Comedy Central has canceled Alternatino With Arturo Castro (which moved to Quibi) and Lights Out With David Spade while renewing its Crank Yankers revival, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens and Tosh.0 (for four more seasons).
Adult animation continues to be a growth genre on broadcast, cable and streaming platforms. In success, shows like Rick and Morty repeat well and bring in younger audiences and can often lead to profitable merchandising lines. Franchises like Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers, for example, are considered to be worth billions. What’s more, animated series are able to be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down hundreds of film and TV projects.
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