About a year ago, MTV president Van Toffler was having trouble sleeping. “I was eating Fruit Loops and Cap’n Crunch out of the box and flipping through the dials when a Lady Gaga video came on,” he says. That’s when he had the idea: Bring back Beavis and Butt-Head. “I felt like there was a whole crop of new artists — and what the world sorely missed was the point of view that only Beavis and Butt-Head could bring.”
The new show, which debuts later this year, will be very familiar to fans of the Nineties original. “They’ll be self-contained segments with the boys in different situations like they used to be,” Toffler says. “But this time around, they’ll watch Jersey Shore, UFC matches and user-generated videos from YouTube, in addition to music videos.” All of the programming will be displayed on the duo’s TV, even if it comes from YouTube — “like silly videos of cats playing music.”
This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.
The show’s creator, Mike Judge, who went on to create King of the Hill and direct the cult classics Office Space and Idiocracy, is returning to helm the new series. “In the years since Mike quit doing Beavis and Butt-Head, he realized that there was a lot to make fun of,” says head writer John Altschuler, a veteran of King of the Hill. “We just kept coming up with ideas that Mike thought would have made good Beavis and Butt-Head episodes. Then one day, Mike said, ‘Maybe we should just actually make some good Beavis and Butt-Head episodes.'”
Beavis and Butt-Head would be in their thirties by now, but they will remain the teenagers they were during the original run. “They’ll have the same intelligence,” Toffler says. “They’re the same boneheads sitting on the same couch, commenting on things through a really simple prism.” He has no fear that younger viewers won’t respond to the show. “Look how popular South Park and Family Guy are,” he says. “These boys are beloved characters, and even if you didn’t know them the first time around, it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds to fall in love with them.”
MTV plans to promote the program across multiple media platforms. “It will be much more viral this time around,” Toffler says. “We’re going to plant seeds of the characters throughout social-media networks like Facebook and Twitter, in addition to traditional programming on television and, potentially, in theaters. It’s formatted very well for the Internet because it’s short-form.”