Way, way back in the early 2000s, MTV took famous guys and ladies and made amusing parodies. Now the clones are a beloved cult show, and they’re gonna make it back if they try…okay, that’s as far as we can take our parody of the iconic Clone High theme song. Anyone who recognizes the cadence or premise should be delighted to know that MTV Studios announced on Thursday that they are officially bringing back Clone High, with the help of original producers Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Bill Lawrence.
Lord and Miller are well-known today for being the geeky auteurs behind hit movies like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Lego Movie franchise, but they got their start producing this cult-classic cartoon show about famous historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, Gandhi, and Joan of Arc (to name a few) getting cloned by the U.S. government and put together in a high school. Much of the humor comes from the way these teenage characters differ from their historical legends. For instance, Lincoln is a gangly awkward loser rather than a crusading leader. This backfired in the case of Gandhi; the portrayal of the iconic Indian freedom fighter as a deranged horny teenager did not go over well in India. In the wake of very public protests there, MTV canceled the show after one 2002-2003 season and tried to scrub it from existence.
Fortunately for comedy fans, the cancellation of Clone High dovetailed perfectly with the rise of YouTube. Episodes of the show found an afterlife on the video site, even inspiring memes and remix videos of certain absurdist jokes. “I think the timing of when YouTube came about, which was a year or two after that show got canceled, is the real reason it stuck around,” Miller told EW in 2017, in an interview to mark the show’s 15th anniversary. In that same interview, Lawrence credited Clone High with laying the groundwork for popular contemporary cartoons with an absurdist streak, like BoJack Horseman or Rick & Morty.
“It always drives me insane,” Lawrence said then. “Phil and Chris think it’s cool it survives this way, but I’m annoyed because if it started now, with streaming and YouTube and everything else, it had such a binge-worthy short-attention-span theater with great little clips that would live everywhere on social media, I think it would be a monster for those guys. It’s the show we most often think about revisiting.”
This theory will soon be put to the test. Lord and Miller are co-writing the pilot of the new Clone High alongside original show writer Erica Rivinoja, who will serve as showrunner. Not many details are known right now, but MTV’s press announcement mentioned Lincoln, Cleopatra, Joan, and John F. Kennedy, so it sounds like many of the show’s original characters may return. Given the controversy that ended the first go-run of the show, it seems fair to expect that Gandhi (who is not mentioned in the announcement) will not be bringing any beards this time around.