Beavis and Butt-Head Season 9 Review: Enough New to Stay Relevant
One of the lasting appeals of Beavis and Butt-Head is their timeless humor, mainly because they've become the exception to slip through the cracks of the #MeToo movement under the guise they're toxic masculine teenagers who "never score." What separates them from, say, incels is that they never act out their pent-up frustrations to others or post on social media. They just kick each other's ass in normal slapstick fashion for unrelated things. In the case of the show, Butt-Head doles out the punishment 99 percent of the time on Beavis. The simplistic formula which worked well for them in the '90s still works here, and the difference between seasons nine and eight is you can see Mike Judge and company make the extra effort of reinventing the duo in subtle yet meaningful ways.
The first major shift in dynamic for the season is the introduction of Beavis and Butt-Head's middle-aged counterparts, which would be how you expect if they aged out normally in 2022. Butt-Head regularly collects social security due to his disability with his mobility issues. Beavis takes a job as a caretaker "Home Aide" since they're out of beer and money, and the client turns out to be his roommate Butt-Head. Another episode, "Kidney," takes a darker turn with Beavis dealing with kidney failure due to their natural sedentary lifestyle, and his only match is their younger friend Stewart (Sam Johnson), who's become successful in adulthood. Given the duo's natural resentment for him and his insistence to hang out and associate with them, Beavis scoffs at the dramatic life changes his doctor implores him to do with his new donor kidney and drinks to spite Stewart before passing out.
The bulk of the season does remain with the original teenager selves and some promising new characters like Glennis (Kosha Patel), a meek female classmate who takes an interest in Beavis, but he's too oblivious to notice. The sad thing is, none stick around as she appears to be a one-off, unlike the original series. We also only see one of Judge's teacher characters back in Van Driessen, but not McVicker or Coach Buzzcut. We do see him reprise the role as Beavis and Butt-Head's neighbor Tom Anderson for a few episodes.
Judge has a wealth of other talents to work with in addition to Patel, who voiced multiple characters like Piotr Michael, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jayden Libran, and Mary Birdsong. We get some higher-profile guest talent in Richard Kind, Jimmy O. Yang, Toby Huss, Ross Marquand, and Chi McBride. Some of the best episodes are the outside-the-box ones like "Weird Girl," which featured Patel's Glennis, and "Nice Butt-Head," where medication changes Butt-Head's personality much to Beavis' chagrin. We really get a sense of how deep Beavis' Stockholm Syndrome is when he goes crazy from not getting abused by his best friend. Adding to Beavis' narrative, we get episodes that focus on him without Butt-Head in "The Doppelganger," where he befriends someone who looks like Butt-Head but is melancholic to the point where he's teaching him to fist bump. "The Special One," which was part of the premiere episode, dives deep into Beavis' fascination with fire for some very unexpected results.
"Two Stupid Men" was a rare gem where middle-aged Beavis and Butt-Head's nonrelevant attitude as members of a jury sway their peers in a robbery case. The only standalone episode that wasn't two shorts was "Spiritual Journey," where Beavis reached an epiphany after seeing what resembles Jesus on his nacho and seeks guidance from various religious figures to find out why he never "scores." Aside from evading Butt-Head's attempt to eat that nacho, Beavis never really gets the answer he seeks, but we do get a classic Iron Man-related spiel from Kind's rabbi.
The mix of reality-based Tik-Tok videos along with music videos functions as a compromise between the reality programming on MTV in season eight and the rotation of music videos during Beavis and Butt-Head's original run. It's nothing really groundbreaking, as Judge just openly riffs, but he definitely scores some points. We do see Beavis disappoint Butt-Head in new ways with new dance moves and fascination with K-Pop, which serve as memorable moments. It would be nice sometimes if Butt-Head wasn't the straight man most of the time.
The current season of Beavis and Butt-Head reminds us with its storytelling that while the world has changed, Beavis and Butt-Head haven't (okay, maybe a little), and that's pretty refreshing. Judge can always get saltier with the language and more graphic with blood, guts, or even nudity, but he remains connected to what made fans connect with the duo. At least audiences today don't have to get subjected to a long-winded explanation of not copying the duo's antics. Here's hoping that in the next season, we get more classic characters back and learn more about the newer ones introduced because a return visit to Judge's universe is definitely in order.