Tonight’s season finale of Beavis and Butthead “Whorehouse / Going Down”, the conclusion to the show’s first full season in 14 years, is a great indicator of what Mike Judge did to replicate the success of his hilariously simple-minded cartoon. The secret to the show’s longevity is that it hasn’t changed at all. Beavis and Butthead are still puzzling over the superficiality of the pop culture detritus that they’ve surrounded themselves with. And they’re not any wiser for it. Judge understandably thinks there’s still a lot of insubstantial crap at the bottom of MTV’s pop culture barrel. So why should Judge’s iconoclastic morons change if MTV and its lowest common denominator programming hasn’t? “Whorehouse/Going Down” isn’t the best episode of season 8 (I’m rather partial to “The Rat/Spill”). But it’s a great model for why Judge’s comedy is still a lot of puerile fun.
Often, the simple but clever punchline to any given Beavis & Butthead segment is revealed somewhere in the middle of the skit’s proceedings. Then the story moves on as if nothing had happened. Because the joke of the show is that nothing fazes these guys. Because nothing really changes around them. Judge’s style of comedy is fundamentally bitter but he coaches his vitriol in jovially sophomoric jokes. He meets the world that he objects to on its own level. Because you shouldn’t have to talk down to people to know that they’re stupid.
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