Sometimes being a kid in the 90’s sucked. There, I said it. NO, not because the stuff wasn’t cool…quite the opposite actually. The problem with being a kid in the ‘90’s was that I wasn’t always allowed to watch everything I wanted, simply due to my age and the subject matter at hand. While we were getting a lot of fantastic movies and shows, it really was also the era in which parents started paying attention to what they were letting their kids watch and play, due to the ratings system boom. During the decade prior, MTV was the reigning champion with kids and teens alike. For the most part, most parents knew that MTV programming was basically just music videos and for the most part, was harmless entertainment.
Enter the 90’s however, and MTV cemented itself as a major player in the semi-adult minded animation department. With all these new and raunchy shows cropping up, parents began to take notice and severely limited what kids were allowed to watch and rent from the video store. I myself wasn’t allowed to watch any of the titles I mention going forward as they were airing. Instead, I had to wait until I had money of my own to go out and pick up titles, getting my first exposure much later than most “90’s kids” claim to. Without further ado, let’s get into it and take a look at some of my favorite MTV animated shows.
Beavis and Butthead Tapes
Right off the bat, let me start off by saying that Beavis and Butthead was always the show I obsessed over. Growing up as a kid and knowing my uncles and older cousins were in the other room watching and chuckling along to the “huh huhs” of the two boys was always a tough pill to swallow. The closest I got to being able to watch Beavis and Butthead was this spoof from the old Arthur cartoon on PBS (to be fair, this is still a pretty awesome riff on the show):
When I was finally able to watch the show, I was in my glory. I was about 12 and all the crude humor totally played to my tastes. The beautiful thing about this show is that the older you get, the more you understand the satire Mike Judge was going for that the boycotting mothers apparently missed back in the day. I truly believe this is one of those special, once in a generation shows that totally encapsulated the era it was created in. I suggest grabbing a few of these tapes if you can find them and popping them in on a Friday night with some good cheap pizza and a couple of Cokes.
While I love Beavis and Butthead, Celebrity Deathmatch might actually be my favorite of the MTV animated shows. It’s such a weird little gem that I feel like is really overlooked in the modern era. I know there has been rumblings lately of a reboot, but I’m not so sure how well it’d go over these days. My worry is that we’d get a reboot more along the lines of Fear Factor or Crank Yankers quality wise, rather than, say, the X-Files. Either way, getting back to Celebrity Deathmatch, I really can’t recommend picking up these tapes enough. This show is a literal time capsule of the late ‘90’s! We’re blessed with wonderful matches between the likes of Tim Allen & Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman & Jay Leno, and many, many more. An added bonus to picking up these tapes is that in between matches, we’re treated to some fun behind the scenes footage and interviews with the show’s creators and creative team. It’s an absolute BLAST to see how they created some of the effects and puppets used in the show.
While I have no doubt that I would’ve enjoyed both B&B and Celebrity Deathmatch as a kid, I’m not so sure about the MAXX. It was a part of the mini programming block MTV Oddities back in the day, usually going back to back with The Head. The MAXX is a weird little show, but in the best ways. It’s definitely got an old noir style vibe, with its use of shadow and an absolutely killer narration that’s incredibly reminiscent of an old detective movie. It was adapted from an Image Comic series of the same name, and the animation really just looks as if the characters leaped off the page and onto the screen! The amount of detail in some of the scenes and character models is absolutely breathtaking- something that would have been lost on me as a child. While I have this series on DVD, I really like that they managed to squeeze the entirety of it onto one VHS. On this format, it really plays out like a full animated movie which is a very good thing!
I hope you had fun taking a little trip back in time with me and exploring some of the best animation the 90’s had to offer. I know there are so many great new series popping up left and right in this new age of streaming, but sometimes it’s a great escape from reality to break out an old VHS and pretend like the only worry you have is deciding who is gonna get up and swap the tapes out. If you have any suggestions on series we didn’t cover that we should check out, feel free to drop us a comment down below or shoot us a DM over on Instagram! – Derek
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