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It’s been 10-years since director, writer, animator (and seemingly psychic) Mike Judge made the movie Idiocracy. Unfortunately, the film would later turn out to be more of a documentary than silly dystopian comedy. But, Judge’s influence in pop-culture and his ability to push the limits of comedy and television have been nonstop since the nostalgic 90s. It continues to this day as he’s been named one of the most powerful showrunners in Hollywood. Let’s take a look at why Mike Judge will go down in history as one of the most innovative comedic voices.
Only cool parents allowed their kids to watch Beavis and Butt-Head, which debuted as a short
film titled Frog Baseball on MTV’s Liquid Television from 1992 to 1997. The cornholio crusaders
were greenlit into their own controversial animated series in 1993 (and later spun-off the also
funny, Daria). With memorable moments like lighting farts on fire, making fun of music videos
and a full-length feature film that did America, Beavis and Butt-Head have nose picked their way
into the hearts of Americans everywhere. The series was revived for a 22 episode run in 2011,
and is currently rumored to be setting fire once again.
In the wake of Beavis and Butt-Head, Mike Judge’s signature animation shifted to FOX in 1997,
with King of the Hill. The series took place in fictional Arlen, Texas and was more adult,
grounded and realistic, compared to Beavis and Butt-Head, and spent more time finding funny
in the mundane with a subtle approach. Who knew propane and propane accessories could
lend to so many classic moments? The series was a few steps ahead of teenage Beavis and
Butt-Head fans, but has later been regarded as that same crowd as one of the funniest and
ahead of its time animated series ever. It enjoyed a successful 13-year run and lives on in
syndication. Also, dammit, Bobby.
In 1999, Judge made his first foray into live-action comedy with cult-classic, Office Space. A
modest theatrical success that later found its following on home video, the film centers around a
group of IT professionals and satirizes white collar, cubicle hell (many of us know this world all
too well). Written and directed by Judge, and adapted to film based on his cartoon series Milton,
Office Space is the most punk-rock Judge had been since Beavis and Butt-Head. Now, who
wants to go embezzle money from a heartless corporation and smash printers with baseball
Seven years after his live-action debut, Judge returned to write and direct another cult favorite,
Idiocracy. The project was buried in distribution hell and only opened to a handful of theaters,
but the subsequent DVD release and endless cable airings found this dystopian gem a loyal
audience. The story follows a couple people who agree to wake up in America 500 years later,
as they participate in a government project. The two leads wake up in a world that looks much
like 2016: a population with dismal and shirking IQs, companies cursing in advertising, news
channels not being very newsworthy and a president that belongs on a reality TV show. Damn,
you Mike Judge. Take your fortune telling witchcraft elsewhere! In a recent panel, Judge
remarked that we may see an animated adaption of Idiocracy sometime in the future. Hopefully
not in 500 years when we’re all dead by idiot.
In 2015, Judge teamed up with HBO as showrunner and creator of the highly acclaimed, Silicon
Valley. It’s the most mainstream we’ve ever seen Judge go–but that’s not a bad thing. Three
seasons in, the series has been nominated for eleven Primetime Emmy Awards and HBO has
confirmed a season four. With a story arc very similar to that of many big names in tech,
Silicon Valley tells the tale of six twenty-somethings who are running their own startup company
in Silicon Valley. Unlike other Judge projects, the comedy style is modern and approachable
and flexes storytelling chops. As a young series, it’s already being hailed as one of the best
scripted comedies in television. If Judge’s track record is any indication, it will surely become one
of the most influential TV comedies of this era.
Eddie Barella is one third of Eddie Jason & Chris, a live internet radio show and podcast voted
Best Of Denver two years in a row in by Westword. Tune-in for laughs, music and interviews
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