Clone High S2, Eps. 1 & 2 Review
Twenty years ago, the guy who made Scrubs and the guys who produced Into the Spider-Verse made a show about a bunch of teenage clones of historical figures going to a modern-day high school. Dubbed Clone High, the show got put on ice after a year. Both metaphorically when MTV canceled it after one season…and literally when the clone’s crazed principal froze them on Winter Prom Night. Right when Abe Lincoln was about to confess who he was in love with, too! Cleo, the hottest girl and queen bee of Clone High, or Joan of Arc, who is his best friend and has been in love with him for years but just got together with JFK. Even the shadowy board in the show wants to know who he chose!
So, twenty years after its first season, HBO Max (Now Max) thaws the now-legendary Clone High out of stasis. The first two episodes are out on Max, and the clones are back!
…except for Gandhi. He’s still frozen.
Let’s Try This Again, With Clones Old and New
Twenty years after the events of Winter Prom Night, the Government decides to thaw out the original class of Clone High (except Gandhi) and groom them to be future world leaders. Even they can’t stand how bad world leaders are getting. Except, when the original class of clones comes to, and the Shadowy Board checks up on Clone High, they discover that Scudworth…never shut the place down in the first place. He secretly cloned another batch of clones in 2007, and now they’re in high school with the original clones. We’ve got Frida Kahlo, Harriet Tubman, Confucius, and Tofer Bus (Christopher Columbus) all joining the main cast.
Given that it’s the first episode in twenty years, the show spends the first episode having the original cast adjust to their new reality, with mixed results. Joan of Arc fits right in with Harriet and Frida and becomes popular for the first time ever. Cleo’s mad about that and the fact that Frida’s now the most popular girl in school. JFK’s horndog talk gets seen as being sex-positive. Scudworth hates having to report to his new supervisor, Candide Sampson…only to fall for her when she tries to kill him.
The one who suffers most, though, is Abe. Firstly, he has to contend with his newfound (from his perspective) feelings for Joan and trying to impress her. Secondly, as Topher Bus warns him, he has to engage with cancel culture after he makes remarks that are perceived as insensitive. It’s a sad but hilarious commentary on how what people say can be taken as offensive when taken out of context and is one of the woes of modern culture.
By the end of the first episode, though, things generally work themselves out. Abe manages to redeem himself and unite old and new clones by making himself a target. However, he loses his shot with Joan, who decides to become JFK’s girlfriend officially. Oh, the irony! And the love triangle never visited again.
Joan’s Still In Love With Abe
If the steamy, erotic, hormonally charged dream she has at the start of the second episode doesn’t make it more obvious, Joan still loves Abe. The love triangle is back on, with JFK replacing Cleo, who doesn’t do much in these episodes.
Now, this would make for an interesting plot for an episode. Putting Joan in a position where she has to choose between her best friend and her new boyfriend is good teen drama. However, the episode instead focuses on the OG Clones (and Scudworth) deepening their rapport with the new cast. It’s not a bad decision, per se. The love triangle will likely be an overarching plot point throughout the season, so it’s fine if Clone High takes its time to get around to it.
In exchange, we do get some genuinely funny interactions between the clones (and Scudworth and Sampson.) JFK and Confucius bond over the wonders of social media. Abs tries hanging out with Topher…only to discover he’s an internet bully. And Joan, Harriet, and Frida? They go through a tasteful parody of I Know What You Did Last Summer. They all have good chemistry, in my opinion.
This Should Be an Interesting Summer Watch
So, how does this revival stack up? Was it worth the two-decade wait fans endured? Yes and no, but leaning more toward the yes side.
Having binged most of the first season before the revival, I see Clone High as something of an acquired taste. It started off slow, but once it got the ball rolling, I could see why people grew to love it. The revival has the benefit of everyone involved coming back with two decades of added experience, and it shows in the writing, the acting, and the animation. Is it perfect? No, since a lot of the recurring characters don’t get lines. Then again, they’ve got a whole season to work on that.
One major improvement I like the most, though, is the lack of Gandhi. After watching the first season, I think Gandhi was my least favorite cast member and more annoying than funny. Even if he wasn’t the source of protests, I can’t see him being good in the revival. One thing’s for sure, though: this should make for an interesting watch this summer. Ironic since it’s a show called Clone High.