Abe Lincoln, Teen Geek

Life at Clone High wouldn't be so bad for 16-year-old Abraham Lincoln if JFK, the captain of the football team, wasn't always bullying him with that silly Boston accent. Or if Cleopatra would give him so much as a second glance. Or if his best friend, Gandhi, would just shut up for five seconds. Growing up isn't easy when you've been cloned from the DNA of a former president. Abe can barely work up the guts to run for class president. He has this odd feeling it would end badly. Wonder where that comes from.

"Clone High USA," the brainchild of Dartmouth graduates Phil Lord, 27, and Chris Miller, 26, is the latest animated-series bull's-eye from MTV, the original home of "Beavis and Butt-head" and "Celebrity Deathmatch." If "Clone High" (Mondays, 10:30 p.m., ET) isn't as consistently funny as these now legendary predecessors, the show makes up for it with its subversive incongruities and its knowing take on high-school life. While Abe (voiced by "Saturday Night Live's" Will Forte) lusts after the skin-deep Cleo, he doesn't even notice that his trustworthy gal pal, Joan of Arc, has a raging crush on him. "Miss of Arc," as the teachers call her, distracts herself in one episode by starting a crisis hot line (a sly play on the real Joan's martyrdom) and fields a call from Vincent van Gogh.

The show is already a mini-hit--the first episode drew 1.9 million viewers--and, as a rite of passage, it recently survived its first controversy: politicians in India launched a protest over the Gandhi character. MTV apologized profusely. (And changed nothing.) The point of the historical figures, Miller and Lord explain, isn't to belittle their legacies but to illustrate--in a radically literal way--the pressures of trying to live up to parental expectations, something almost any kid can relate to.

Miller and Lord feel a kinship with the historical Lincoln, which is why he's their star. "He was really awkward," Lord says. "He wasn't particularly good-looking. And he was bad with women." (Look it up, Lord insists. It's true.) "Abe is certainly a guy you can imagine having an awkward teenage life, kind of like Chris and I." The show's continued success will depend on its creators' ability to develop beyond the cheeky concept. "You just can't take more than two or three history jokes in a row," says Miller. "You'll shoot yourself." How many times can you laugh at Genghis Khan wearing a screw tibet T shirt? Come to think of it, quite a few, actually.