Animation Lovers Rejoice, ‘Beavis and Butthead’ and ‘Mission Hill’ Are Coming Back

Believe it or not, the first adult animated series was The Flintstones. I know, when I was growing up it was a kid’s show, we even had The Flintstone Kids and that weird show where Pebbles and Bam-Bam were teenagers. But originally the Flintstones were a prime-time family sitcom and before Fruity Pebbled came along, Fred and Barney were the spokesmen for Winston cigarettes, which was the brand I smoked before I switched to Nat Sherman as a way to look down on all the plebs who smoked Marlboros.

I am not making any of the up, either.

Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should. I smoked for years and I always thought all cigarettes tasted terrible, I had to have something like coke to drink while I was smoking to get the taste out of my mouth. But damn did it make me look cool.

Even though it started 30 years later and well after The Simpsons began as well, Beavis and Butthead still feels like an early pioneer of adult animation. It’s hard to explain just how taboo watching it felt, like you were getting away with something. It’s not like my parents ever told me I wasn’t allowed to watch it or anything, but the news and it seemed like society as a whole we’re trying to keep us from watching it. The media made a huge to-do about a fire set by a five-year-old supposedly obsessed with fire because of Beavis and Butthead that killed his sister, and not much mention at all when neighbors said the kid didn’t have cable TV and had never seen Beavis and Butthead.

Well, Beavis and Butthead is coming back. Comedy Central has announced they’ve committed to two seasons as well as spin-offs and specials. Comedy Central also picked up the Daria revival which now is just called Jodie and won’t feature Daria, so who cares now?

I don’t think that Beavis and Butthead will quite have the same cultural impact as it did in the 90s. It pushed the envelope and became the cool show to watch because most people’s parents were dead set on keeping them from watching it, but I don’t foresee that happening. I can’t even imagine what they could possibly do to push the envelope in the same way they did back then.

Along with the Beavis and Butthead news, though, we also got news that a revival of cult classic Mission Hill is also officially underway from original creators Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, which ran one season on The WB and eventually found an audience in reruns in the early days of Adult Swim.

You see, Dilbert creator Scott Adams complained about being canceled by UPN because the network shifted its focus to African-American viewers, so a lot of other creators who had short-lived adult cartoons at the time made fun of him for being a big racist baby. One of those people was Bill Oakley, who took the opportunity to say that unlike Dilbert, Mission Hill was coming back. Hopefully.

I was a little curious about what the Gus & Wally title meant, and I mentioned in a tweet that I was hoping for more of an ensemble where former supporting characters Gus and Wally, a scene-stealing elderly gay couple, would have an increased role but episodes would still feature characters like Kevin and Andy French, the main characters of the original run, along with their roommates Posey and Jim (played by the hilarious Brian Posehn). Oakley, who is an awesome guy, told me that was the plan for the show, which instantly erased any doubts I had since I’m not sure Gus and Wally could carry a series despite their strong showing in the series last episode (for now), Plan Nine From Mission Hill (Or How I Married a Gay Man From Outer Space), which was all about the couple.

My guess, based purely on instinct, is that there’s a better than 50% chance this eventually gets picked up and that when it does it goes back to the Mission Hill name, just with more episodes (but probably not even the majority of them) centered on Gus and Wally.

I also think that Mission Hill will ultimately be the more successful return than Beavis and Butthead because it was successful for a much different reason. Mission Hill wasn’t really pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo (though I believe Gus and Wally were the first gay couple shown in bed together on TV), it was a smaller, character-driven show that was essentially pitched as “The Simpsons but with 20-somethings from people who wrote The Simpsons when it was good.”

You can still achieve that and adult animation still doesn’t have a lot of shows featuring characters in that age group. Look at Rick and Morty or Bob’s Burgers. Kids and teens and parents. No college kids, college drop-outs, or fresh out of college kids anywhere. Mission Hill can still fill that niche and it doesn’t need to shock us or push the envelope to live up to its legacy.

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