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Clone High

Entry updated 27 January 2021. Tagged: TV.

Canadian-American animated tv series (2002-2003). Music Television (MTV). Created by Bill Lawrence, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Directed by Ted Collyer and Harold Harris. Writers include Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Voice cast includes Will Forte, Phil Lord, Michael McDonald, Christopher Miller, Christa Miller and Nicole Sullivan. Thirteen 22-minute episodes. Colour.

In the 1980s the American government Cloned many historical figures and now, as the theme song explains, "the clones are sexy teens". Their characters represent the stereotypes of High School soap operas: the main cast are likeable but shy Abraham Lincoln (Forte); earnest goth Joan of Arc (Sullivan); wannabe party animal Mahatma Gandhi (McDonald); arrogant jock John F. Kennedy (Christopher Miller) and hot, self-centred Cleopatra (Christa Miller). Plots centre on Lincoln fancying Cleopatra, oblivious of best friend Joan's crush on him; with Kennedy resenting Lincoln's interest in Cleopatra, whilst Gandhi – when not desperately trying to be popular – worries that Lincoln's obsession with Cleopatra will weaken their friendship. Where a protagonist's character is different to that of their genetic source, it is usually explained as their reaction to having to live in the shadow of their original: so the show might be said to come down on the side of nurture in the Nature versus Nurture debate.

The writing is reasonably witty and sharp, but as the show is primarily a humorous Satire of High School teen dramas, the viewer's enjoyment is largely determined by their engagement with that genre. The main plots rarely employ sf or fantasy tropes: those elements mainly centre on Principal Scudworth (Lord), a Mad Scientist with a Robot butler. Other characters of note are the school's history teacher, who is the "first, mostly human, clone" (there being some sheep in the mix); and the Marie Curie (Sullivan) clone, who – due to the effect of radiation on her DNA – is deformed. Though this is not tastelessly handled, the portrayal of the Genghis Khan (Lord) clone as mentally challenged is – the suspicion being that it is a pun on his being a Mongol.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller subsequently worked on several genre-related productions, including the films Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), The Lego Movie (2014) and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) (Lord only), and the Television show The Last Man on Earth (2015-2018). In 2020 it was announced that Clone High would be returning, in rebooted form, with the involvement of the original creators. [SP]


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