Stuff We Love: Christopher Miller and Phil Lord's Clone High

Contributed by
Jul 5, 2017

Everyone's got opinions about Christopher Miller and Phil Lord getting fired from the Han Solo movie. Is it good? Is it bad? Should they go back to DC and make The Flash after all? Should they just stick to Lego movies?

Look. Listen. You need a definitive opinion and this is it: the best thing Lord and Miller ever did was Clone High, and if they return to any well, this is the one most full of, uh... water. Yeah.

And the reason I know this is not just because I have great and awesome opinions, but because if you do a search on Twitter for "Clone High" on any given day, you will find someone asking Lord and Miller when Clone High is coming back.

Clone High's last episode went out almost 15 years go. And the finale didn't even air in America because MTV cancelled it.

And yet, connoisseurs of fine animation (and people who were, like 19 when it aired) found a way to see the full run of Clone High, including its amazing cliffhanger ending. Most people saw the last episode through bit torrent. And that, other than being illegal, is a testament to how badly people wanted more Clone High. Just like how people still ask for it on Twitter regularly.

Okay. So why is Clone High so beloved?

Well, first of all, there's the premise: an evil scientist from a shadowy organization obtains genetic material of history's most famous figures, clones said figures, and puts them in a high school together once they are sexy teens. Abe Lincoln is a lanky dork uncomfortable in his own skin. Gandhi has ADD. Joan of Arc is a goth girl in love with Abe. JFK is the jock. Cleopatra is the popular girl.

It writes itself, really.

But it's the nuance that makes Clone High work. Whether it's Sigmund Freud reveling in Joan's art-house short film that's so obviously about how she loves Abe, or that time Joan started hearing voices (which turned out to be a radio station picked up by her retainer) and asked Jesus what to do about it. Jesus shoots himself in the hand with a nail gun, btw.

The scientist-turned-principal has a robot assistant named Mr. Butlertron, who has a mustache, a magical, red cardigan, and calls everyone Wesley.

And then there's the guest stars. Marilyn Manson sings a song about the food pyramid. Luke Perry plays Ponce de Leon in a very special episode where Ponce dies. Zach Braff plays Paul Revere, revealing that Ghandi has ADD to the whole school and warning that you can catch it from toilet seats. Michael J. Fox plays Gandhi's kidney!

To reiterate: Michael J. Fox plays a human kidney. And the human is Gandhi. And Gandhi is a clone. With ADD. Also, he's a rapper.

But most importantly: the characters have great relationships and long-term stories that make watching really worthwhile. After all, the jokes would feel wildly all over the place if there wasn't something grounding the story of sexy, famous teen clones.

Stories that boil down to "random equals funny" don't traditionally maintain a fanbase of Firefly-like proportion. So stuff like Abe and Gandhi's friendship, or Joan's crush on Abe, Principal Scudworth's rivalry with John Stamos, JFK's gay foster dads, the deformed clone of Marie Curie's embracing of dance culture... these things are both funny and have emotional weight.

The most consistent ongoing story is the potential for romance between Abe and Joan. And I think, if you look at that specific aspect of Clone High, you can see how the show excels at simultaneously playing into and deconstructing the traditional elements of a sitcom romance. Abe loves the popular girl, while his geeky friend loves him. That's a typical romance plotline. It's the Pretty in Pink of plotlines. The subversion comes from the gender flip, wherein it's Joan who is chasing Abe rather than the other way around.

Also, Joan gets a makeover into a post-apocalyptic robo-nurse to win Abe's affections.

All that plus a cast that includes Will Forte, Nicole Sullivan, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, and a host of other top-shelf comedy actors.

And Andy Dick is also there. Look, nothing can be perfect. Tom Green is in an episode once too, and it's FUNNY. So, yeah. Clone High can work some miracles.

Anyway. That's it. Clone High is the best. Miller and Lord should make a second season since Han Solo himself fired them. It's a sign. It's also a sign you should rewatch Clone High. Or watch it for the first time, if you're a heathen.

Here's my final incentive: Abe and Gandhi make out, thanks to peer pressure and a five dollar bill. Truly, TV writers of the world wept that day, for they knew the medium of television had peaked.