Movies & TV / Columns

From Under A Rock: Clone High

March 27, 2018 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
Clone High
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
From Under A Rock: Clone High  


I didn’t learn about this week’s pick until about 5 or 6 years after it ended, but I loved when I saw it and figured it’d be an interesting pick to bring to Aaron, who has very different tastes in comedy than I do.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Aaron chose 10 Things I Hate About You. This week Michael takes Aaron out from under the proverbial rock to show him Clone High.

Clone High
Released: November 2nd, 2002
Created by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, & Bill Lawrence
Voices of:
Will Forte, Nicole Sullivan, Michael McDonald, Christopher Miller, Christa Miller, & Phil Lord

Michael Ornelas: Simply put, I love this show and pretty much all the talents affiliated with it. The humor, while dumb, is really smart, if that makes any sense. I wanted to see how Aaron would take it, and it was an excuse to rewatch it. I was not disappointed.

Aaron Hubbard: This is actually something I probably would have fallen in love with if I stumbled into it by accident. It’s utterly ridiculous and thoroughly entertaining.
A Perfect Premise
Michael: This was such a self-aware product for MTV to give airtime to. It essentially mocked all the teen dramas that were so popular during its time, on the network that was home to many of them…and it put such a fun twist on it. Clones of famous historical figures, semi-grown up and going through their angsty teen years? So much fun and the comedy was ripe for the picking. My favorite line in the series was when spoiled rich JFK suffers loss for the first time and proclaims “I’m a Kennedy; I’m not accustomed to tragedy!” Jokes like this are the backbone of the show and sneaks this show into my list of favorite animated comedies. Ever.

Aaron: It would probably make my short list, especially since I’m not a fan of a lot of the big names in the genre. I thought the show was fun at playing with the expected jokes, but I also appreciated how they weren’t just history jokes. It was fun to see the characters’ approach to the legacies of their originals; some trying to live up to it, some railing against it, and some ignoring it entirely. Which is appropriate for teenagers, now that I think on it.

Michael: Yeah there was a lot of subtlety and complexity to the stories being told without them ever really emphasizing them too much. They were there for you to pick up on if you cared to, but it’s still a really fun show if you didn’t. And on top of it all, it’s just a blast.
Balancing Likability
Aaron: Something I quickly admired about this show was the character writing. I probably told you a dozen times that Abe was kind of an asshole I couldn’t cheer for, which is a bold direction for a supposed lead character. Conversely, I came to actually care for JFK and even Cleopatra as the season was winding down. They have moments where their humanity shines and it was nice to see.

Michael: They work in spite of their worst qualities, which I think is the case of pretty much everybody. We’re all flawed and human, and despite extreme selfishness, sometimes we buck that trend and do the right thing by pursuing something akin to a greater good. JFK trying to turn Gandhi into GFK was both selfish (crafting someone else in his own image), and selfless (realizing he’s popular and genuinely trying to help Gandhi achieve a higher social standing by rubbing off on him). It’s genius. Interestingly enough, the portrayal of Gandhi is why the show didn’t get a second season, with some in India seeing it and even starting a hunger strike until Viacom canceled the show. The creators tried to pitch a second season without the character, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Aaron: That’s kind of unfortunate but also understandable. However, I think all the characters are compelling and entertaining. They’re based on archetypes but have more to them, and while they aren’t always endearing, they are fun to watch. I would recommend the series for people looking to improve their character writing.
Joan JFK
The Groundwork Set for Huge Careers
Michael: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were new to the game when they made this show. Bill Lawrence was already a seasoned vet due to Spin City and he was in his second season of Scrubs already when this show hit the airwaves, but the newcomers launched careers that have become prolific and impressive. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Last Man on Earth, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, Lego Batman, and many others are among their list of creations. They have a very distinct voice and they’ve been quoted as saying their whole careers have just been an attempt to get Clone High back on TV (somewhat jokingly, of course, but several jokes in 21JS were lifted straight out of Clone High for a larger audience to enjoy).

Aaron: It’s remarkable how consistent their sense of humor and their approach to storytelling is. You couldn’t find more different premises than LEGO Batman and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and yet I can see bits of Abe, Joan and JFK in both of those movies. And I probably should get around to the 21 Jump Street movies sooner or later. They’ve been pretty consistent so far.

Michael: They’re a blast, and I didn’t even realize they were a Lord/Miller production. I should rewatch them through that lens. All I know is that while it’s impossible to get the show back together due to rights of several aspects of it belonging to different studios, I will definitely follow them more closely.

Aaron: This show was actually really fun to watch and I kind of want to rate it a little higher. But this probably feels about right. It’s fun but not tip top quality.


Michael: Unlike Aaron, subjectivity factors into my rating fairly substantially. I love this forgotten gem, and while the animation is gross-looking and Abe is frustrating, I adore it.


Aaron: The animation wasn’t great but at least nothing else looks like it.

Michael: I got Ren & Stimpy meets Clerks: The Animated Series vibes, but that’s just me.

What’s your favorite overlooked one-season TV show?

Next week:

Aaron: Oh, this is going to be fun. This movie is definitely tough to forget.
Michael: This has seriously been on my watch list for 9 years now and I’ve still not gotten around to it. Really excited, although I’m expecting to be rather disturbed.

Aaron: Your expectations will be met.

What is the best but most unsettling movie you’ve ever seen?

E-mail us at [email protected]
Follow us! @FUARockPodcast
Like us on Facebook!
And follow Michael on Twitter! @TouchButtPro

Check out our past reviews!
Mission: Impossible, They Live, Marvel’s Daredevil, The Silence of the Lambs, 12 Angry Men, The Usual Suspects, The Boondock Saints, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Iron Giant, Fargo, American Psycho, 28 Days Later, Frankenstein, Crank, The Godfather: Part II, American Beauty, Rocky, Alien, Spaceballs, Star Wars: Clone Wars, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Reservoir Dogs, Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon, Double Indemnity, Groundhog Day, The Departed, Breaking Bad, Shane, Glengarry Glen Ross, Blue Ruin, Office Space, The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest, Drive, Memoirs of a Geisha, Let the Right One In, Apocalypse Now, Aliens, The Incredible Hulk, A Clockwork Orange, Chicago, Seven, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, The Room, Chinatown, Jaws, Unforgiven, RoboCop, The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air, Ghostbusters, Spider-Man 2, Prometheus, Scarface, Gattaca, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Equilibrium, City of God, The Graduate, Face/Off, Snowpiercer, The Exorcist, Hellboy, Village of the Damned, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Idiocracy, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Fly (1986), Under the Skin, Die Hard, Dredd, Star Wars Holiday Special, A Christmas Story, Snakes on a Plane, The Big Lebowski, Bulworth, Raging Bull, Thank You for Smoking, John Wick, Mulholland Drive, The Karate Kid, Lucky Number Slevin, The Searchers, Black Dynamite, Labyrinth, Rick & Morty, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Abyss, Seven Samurai, Bio-Dome, Memento, L.A. Confidential, Tangled, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Wonder Woman, The Way Way Back, Rebel Without a Cause, Predator, Before Sunrise, Evil Dead II, Planet of the Apes, Wet Hot American Summer, Tombstone, The Core, American Graffiti, León: The Professional, Steel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Logan, Tusk, Ghost in the Shell, Twin Peaks, The Artist, The Thing, Little Shop of Horrors, Day of the Dead, Them!, Borat, The Handmaiden, Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels, Watchmen, Metropolis, A Knight’s Tale, Children of Men, It’s a Wonderful Life, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Contact, Before Sunset, Bernie, Edge of Tomorrow, Boogie Nights, M, Ip Man, Jessica Jones (Season 1), Flash Gordon, 10 Things I Hate About You, Clone High

Aaron is now on Letterboxd!
Check me out here to see my star ratings for over 1,000 films.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Clone High is not the highest quality animation ever made. But it is a bizarre, fun concept with very strong characters and a ton of offbeat humor. It's only thirteen twenty-minute episodes, so it's not a huge investment, but you'll almost certainly enjoy the entire run. We both had a great time with it. It’s even on YouTube, so finding it i