The Curious Case of Rick & Morty

What was once a fringe cartoon, peppered with obscene language, dark humor, and twisted sci-fi narratives, is now the top rated comedy on TV. It’s origins are humble enough; Creator Justin Roiland came up with the idea after the skit Doc and Mharti.

Doc and Mharti was originally a spoof of the Back to the Future series, where Rick was Doc Brown and Morty was Marty McFly. it captured all of the strange, sci-fi, morally lax humor for which Rick and Morty is known and loved. I won’t attach the clip; just take my word for it when I say it’s extremely NSFW.

Legend says when Community director Dan Harmon approached Roiland for a new cartoon that would be produced by Adult Swim, Roiland basically pitched him an amalgamation of Doc and Mharti and another skit series DogWorld, that blended the two main characters with the simmering family drama Rick & Morty balances in its episodes.

That was in 2012. Now, in 2017, Rick & Morty is the animated show.
It’s in a league of its own.

So the question becomes, Why?

Image result for wubba lubba dub dub gif
Photo Source: Adult Swim

The Secret Behind Rick & Morty

The secret is…. there is no secret. There is no special formula to it; it just works. Justin Roiland is creative, imaginative, and innovative, but the real reason we love Rick and Morty isn’t because it doesn’t anything different or special; it simply takes a unfliching look at scientific what-ifs, paired with down-to-earth family conflict, all in an improvisational package. We like it (for those who do) because it seems authentic. The stuttering, the realistic flaws and hang-ups, the downright nihilistic view Rick holds, are all things we can relate to personally, or have seen throughout our lives.

We are all afraid of something, and Rick and Morty is just another show until it casually turns to a topic we are personally paranoid about. For example, in one episode, Rick creates a robot at the breakfast table built to pass butter to him. He does this quietly, and the audience almost doesn’t notice it until he powers it up and it whirrs to life.

“What is my purpose?” It asks.
“Pass me the butter.” Rick gestures.
The robot complies, a few moments go by and we are distracted by other conversation
Until again it asks:
“What is my purpose”
and Rick says “You pass butter”

and the robot looks down at its metal body, and at its hands shaped to hold butter.

“Oh my god” is all it can manage to say

Image result for rick and morty pass the butter gif
Photo Source: Adult Swim

“Yeah, welcome to the club, pal” is Rick’s reply.

This scene perfectly captures what is great about the show. R&M is overwhelming and fantastically imaginative and takes us to places we’ll never see but even when the impossible is accomplished, there is still darkness and fear in the corners of our minds, and we tune in to watch this smartest man in the universe resort to alcoholism and other escapisms to cope and we wonder how we, nowhere near as powerful, can ever manage to compare and fight our fear and our demons.

In that sense, Morty is us, the viewer.
Morty is normal and unimpressive compared to the genius scientist he calls grandpa.

So we enjoy the humor but we are quietly hoping we can pick up something we can take back into the real world once the credits roll, as if it knows something we don’t.

That’s what makes it so good.

-Tao

Disagree? Let me know what you think below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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