When Jackass debuted on MTV in 2000, the world had never seen anything quite like it.
Here was a group of 10 dudes—quasi-stuntmen, really—who seemed willing to do anything for a gag. Swallow a live goldfish only to regurgitate it right back up? Sure. Get gored by a bull? Why not? Lock yourself in a dirty Porta-Potty and allow it to be tipped over? Go for it.
It was crude, it was juvenile, it seemed bats–t insane, and it was often times downright hilarious. Born out of the skater culture of the ’90s, the show was a meeting of the minds involving Jeff Tremaine’s Big Brother Magazine buddies (including Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Dave England, Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna, and Chris Pontius) and Bam Margera’s CKY Crew (which included Ryan Dunn, Chris Raab, Brandon Novak, and various members of Margera’s family). And it seemed like there was nothing too dangerous or disgusting for the whole lot of them.
Immediately after its premiere on Oct. 1, 2000, it captivated an audience of male viewers ages 12 to 34 that was larger than any in MTV history. And just as immediate? The controversy.
The show’s extreme antics forced the network to attach a disclaimer at the beginning and end of each episode, as well as after each commercial break, warning the impressionable audience watching at home that they should not, under any circumstances, try this at home. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman railed against the show, urging MTV’s parent company Viacom to think of the children. (Which, in all actuality, probably only helped its popularity.) And then the wars between the network and the stars of its new flagship enterprise, second in ratings only to TRL,