Everything old is new again at Comedy Central, which reviving yet another beloved ’90s Viacom animated series. After picking up MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head and a Daria spinoff last month, the network has ordered a new version of The Ren & Stimpy Show.
The original Ren & Stimpy Show debuted in 1991, and ran for five seasons on Nickelodeon. But like the new Beavis and Butt-Head (which will reimagine the duo as Gen Zers) and Daria spinoff Jodie, this new iteration will air on a sibling Viacom cable network: Comedy Central.
“We are excited to reinvent this iconic franchise with a new creative team and our partners at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio,” said Chris McCarthy, president of ViacomCBS’ entertainment and youth group, in a statement. “Ren & Stimpy joins our rapidly expanding roster of adult animation including South Park, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Clone High as we continue to reimagine our treasure chest of beloved IP for new generations.”
This is part of a major adult animation push for ViacomCBS’ entertainment and youth group. To that end, the company has tapped Grant Gish to lead its new adult animation unit as svp of adult animation, entertainment and youth brands.
Adult animation had already become a hot commodity for streaming services this year, as platforms look for the next Family Guy or South Park. Netflix boasts several animated series like BoJack Horseman and Big Mouth, and in just the past few months, Hulu debuted Solar Opposites, Apple TV+ aired Central Park, and CBS All Access is about to roll out Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Animated series are cheaper than scripted live action, have a longer shelf life and reward repeat viewing, and—a key advantage during the ongoing pandemic—are one of the only genres that can be completed remotely.
Now ViacomCBS is also expanding its commitment in the space for those same reasons, and is hoping to find a series with the same longevity as South Park, which is still going strong on Comedy Central after 23 years.
“Adult animation is an incredibly powerful asset that truly works on every platform and around the world. It’s also pandemic-proof, which is why we are reimagining many of our beloved iconic IPs, unlocking incredible value,” said McCarthy in a statement.
In addition to Beavis and Butt-Head, Jodie (which will star Tracee Ellis Ross) and Ren & Stimpy, the company also recently announced a revival of Clone High, the MTV 2002 animated series about historical icons like Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra and Joan of Arc, who have been cloned and put back in high school.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who started on Clone High before making films like The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, will reunite with Scrubs and Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence on the project, which doesn’t yet have an outlet.
Gish, in his new role, will help guide all these new series. The Fox Animation and Marvel Studios alum, who oversaw animated shows like Bob’s Burgers and American Dad, will help produce adult animated content for all ViacomCBS platforms, including its linear cable networks and the rebranded CBS All Access debuting in early 2021 (though the company has already begun bulking up the streaming platform).