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MTV's The State

By Chuck Ansbacher

Tuesday June 19, 2007

Over a decade ago, before Human Giant, Wonder Showzen, Strangers With Candy and Mr. Show ever existed, there was a show called The State on MTV. It aired from 1993-1995, and re-defined what sketch comedy could and should be. Its brief stint on the air coincided perfectly with the emergence of Gen-X, grunge and gangsta-rap, and the show simultaneously embodied and spoofed every stereotype the hilarious era provided. Starring ten dudes and one chick, cross-dressing was mandatory, homosexuality, AIDS, angst, disaffection and ’60s nostalgia were all fair game, and flannels, vests, chokers and bad hair were the norm. The early ’90s were a strange blip on the pop-culture radar, and The State was there to live through it and take the piss out of it.

Since the show went off the air in ’95, it’s been next to impossible to re-watch. Aside from a long out-of-print best-of video, there’s been nothing. Not to say the cast members haven’t been working hard. This is the crew responsible for Wet Hot American Summer, Stella and Reno 911, the scripts for Night at the Museum and some other random Hollywood movies, plus countless guest spots and TV commercials. They’ve all been busy and many have experienced modest success, but all have yet to lived up to the promise that was The State.

In the past few years, while every dumb TV show from Full House to Alf found new life on DVD, The State had been neglected. Even an online petition with over 30,000 signatures hadn’t helped. Until, sort of, now. For the first time ever, you can finally buy episodes of The State. Not on DVD, but on your computer via iTunes. So far it’s just the first season, but holy shit is it worth it (they’re all coming soon, and a DVD has been promised this fall). Truly ahead of its time, The State re-defined sketch comedy, and carried the medium on its shoulders when Saturday Night Live was all but dead. If you’ve ever been a fan of any of the shows mentioned above, this is mandatory viewing. Buy it today, and witness one of the best TV shows of all time.

The State can be purchased on iTunes by following this link. Here’s a sample to wet your appetite.