This essay was commissioned by Wendy Cannan. You can find out more about commissions here.
The joke goes that MTV once played music videos, but for my money their more interesting achievement was the two decades long attempt to carve out a niche in American animation that would target an older audience. The two big success stories of this venture are Beavis and Butthead and its far superior spinoff Daria, along with cult darlings Aeon Flux and Clone High. And then there’s The Maxx, a series of 13 ten minute episodes quite fittingly aired during a programming block called “Oddities.” For it is a strange little show, a mixed media conglomeration of early CGI, traditional animation, and direct translation of comic panels akin to the modern motion comic. It’s also a dense time capsule of 90s psychology and feminism, always intriguing even when it bites off more than it can chew.