The day I saw memes for the short lived animated series Clone High pop up on my Instagram feed was a day of confusion and joy. Not only did I enjoy watching Clone High, an animated satire about high School created by the gods behind 21 Jump Street, but watching the show on Youtube led to an even greater discovery: Mission Hill.
Mission Hill was created by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein after they both left production of The Simpsons during its heyday. Coming out in 1999, the series premiered on the WB Network, getting cancelled after only thirteen episodes with Adult Swim airing it’s reruns. The series followed two brothers, Andy (Wallace Langham), a post college struggling artist working at a mattress store, and his younger brother, Kevin (Scott Menville), a nerdy overachieving high schooler. Andy and Kevin live together in the city burrow of Mission Hill.
Joining them in the series were colorful characters such as Posey (Vicki Lewis), their free spirited hippie roommate Jim (the excelled Brian Posehn), their mellow and chill roommate, and their neighbors Gus (Nick Jameson) and Wally (Tom Kenny, yes the Tom Kenny), a gay couple who have been together for nearly forty years. While this series is animated, it is profoundly relatable in how much it is grounded in realism.
There are a lot of relatable aspects to the series no matter what age you are. The series is at it’s best when it delves into the relatability of Kevin coming of age as a high schooler and Andy coming of age during his post college slump. In one heartfelt episode that focuses on Kevin’s birthday, “Happy Birthday, Kevin,” Kevin turns eighteen and Andy decides to welcome Kevin to the harsh real world, especially since he is always coddled so much by their parents. What results from this though is the two visiting their old abandoned childhood home and reminiscing on their childhood, where Andy finds his old stash of fireworks and Kevin decides to do everything his parents wouldn’t allow like peeing in the shower.
The highlight of this episode though is when they throw a party in the old house with Andy’s old high school friends and Kevin learns that Andy would get drunk and call himself “Yagermiger,” similarly to how Kevin calls him “Grubererister” when he gets very drunk. This joke shows the weird bond that brothers have, that the older sibling used to be just as clueless and embarrassing as the youngest, that no matter how Andy always acts cooler and embarrassed of his younger brother, they really are brothers and have more in common than they seem to — from growing up in the same now abandoned house to being obnoxious while partying.
Ask any fan of the show and they will agree that the greatest episode is the finale, “Plan 9 From Mission Hill,” where Kevin, upon watching the film Midnight Cowboy with Wally, a film which was banned for it’s gay representation, learns that Wally was once a film director back in the fifties. Kevin ventures out to find the film so that he and all the neighbors could watch it but only for everyone to discover that not only is Gus the star, but that the film, a cheesy science fiction film, is really bad, Plan 9 from Outer Space level bad. While Wally is embarrassed that everyone in the Mission Hill burrow has seen his film, he reveals through flashback the story of why the film was so bad in the first place.
What follows is a surprisingly loving and earnest romance where Wally, a film director, has the option to hire a good actor for his film but instead hires one of the crew hands, Gus, because he has fallen in love with him. As the two make the disastrous film, they are completely oblivious to all the problems around them because they are in love. While the two are seen as the same as the monsters in their film because of their homosexuality in the conservative fifties era, this is a gay romance that doesn’t end in tragedy (no one dies, woo hoo!). While this episode has so many funny moments, from the actual bad film itself (cheap effects and bad acted included) to many jokes making fun of homophobia, the true heart in this episode lies with its sweet romance where a man is so blinded by love for another man, he changes his whole film just to make his love the star.
Overall, Mission Hill is a coming of age story both for Andy, as he tries to grow up from his college partying days, and Kevin, as Andy tries to get him to let loose and enjoy city life. The series is a relatable look at both sides of coming of age, from before college to after college, showing both the joys and struggles of each side. In terms of the large ensemble, it highlights city life where everyone has a story and not everyone’s the same. As announced earlier this year, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein are currently developing a spin off series thanks to its cult following, where the series will mainly follow the relationship of fan favorites Gus and Wally. To ensure this upcoming series won’t become another one season wonder, give the reruns of Mission Hill a watch. Then, hopefully it can have a resurgence similar to one that Clone High is currently enjoying. While Mission Hill is a lot smaller in scale and story than Clone High, it’s both a funny and heartfelt series about coming of age, love and getting so drunk that you call yourself a “Grubererister”.
Mission Hill is available for free on Youtube.
By Brianna Benozich