A thought experiment is the best way to explain the appeal of “Rick and Morty.”
Imagine if you grew up with 24-hour cable news broadcasting the world’s calamities into your living room. For most of your life, your country has been at war. You’re fresh out of college, saddled with a mountain of student loan debt, and entering the workforce just as the global financial crisis was erupting. Also imagine that the ecological crisis is weighing heavily on your mind and that you spend as much time online as you do talking to real people.
What television show would you watch if you were this type of person?
Rick and Morty, the Adult Swim animated comedy series by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, may be the answer.
It is dark, even nihilistic, absurdist, and operates more like a meme or internet video than a novel or serial drama. Younger Americans today often feel isolated, anxious, and sceptical about the world around them.
It was recently extended for an additional 70 episodes. As part of an overall deal with the series creators, Adult Swim announced last week that the first three seasons of “Rick and Morty” will return for more than double the number of episodes.
What is it about?
Starring are Rick Sanchez, an alcoholic scientist, and Morty Smith, his adolescent grandson.
Rick returns to the show after a long absence at the start of the series. They can’t get along with Beth, but he has more fun travelling with her son Morty than he does with his own daughter.
The presence of Rick strains the relationship between Jerry, Beth’s poor husband, and Rick’s family. The rift between the characters changes over the course of the show.
Honestly, that doesn’t sound all that out of the ordinary to me. When compared to “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy,” how does this show differ?
“The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” are both parodies of live-action sitcoms, but “Rick and Morty” reimagines the genre.
That Rick and Morty had to go into another reality to save themselves in “Rick Potion No. 9” is hard to imagine on either of the latter shows’ plotlines, let alone one where everyone becomes a mutant.
Although Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin have their share of missteps and faux pas, their all-American values remain unchallenged. “M. Night Shyamalan-Aliens!” is an episode where Morty’s father Jerry can’t tell the difference between reality and an alien-run simulation.
When it comes to Rick, he is known to say things like “what people refer to as love is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed” and “I don’t have the nicest personality in the world because I’m the smartest and being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets.”
Rick may also be a sociopath, but he’s also a dangerous driver. The Galactic Federation has labelled him a criminal.
Is this a science fiction show?
Yes. Somewhat. A scientist named Rick has developed a means of transporting himself and his companions across the known universe and beyond. It’s not uncommon for him and Morty to run into extraterrestrial life forms. When he refuses to participate in family counseling in “Picket Rick,” he disguises himself as one.