I have mixed feelings about this show. On the one hand it’s got an expansive and well-thought out science fiction universe with some truly inventive designs, stories and settings. Its writing is excellent with fantastic and cutting satirical humor and some genuinely poignant moments. But on the other hand, two words:
(Somehow this is Jerry’s fault.)
Rick and Morty is an especially explicit sci-fi adult cartoon and the brainchild of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. It follows the mostly episodic misadventures of Rick Sanchez, an alcoholic, suicidal and all-around asshole inter-dimensional traveler who is guilty of every single crime in the universe. He’s also got with him his grandson Morty, who by this point has more issues and PTSD than most hardened war veterans. Poor kid’s been through a lot. But they’re not the only ones they drag into their messes. Summer is the typical teenager who’s just trying to get by with some shades of valley girl thrown in, Jerry is the forever-suffering idiot father who’s trying so hard to provide a good life for him and his family you can see the strain crushing his spirit to powder and finally his wife Beth, who is stressed out in a similar way and is dealing with her own abandonment issues
related to directly caused by Rick. The show does a good job of having these characters bounce off one another and creating stories through their personalities and the conflict that will inevitably spiral out from it.
That being said there is one major problem I have with the show’s writing, as good as it is for the most part. For the most part it’s fantastic with hilarious dialogue, witty observations and genuinely affecting story moments. And then there are incredibly stupid and entirely out of place moments like the aforementioned Principal Vagina. It’s nuggets of stupid and lazy humour in an otherwise good show that just end up being really distracting from the rest of the show and actually seems more than a little bit pointless. We know that there are good writers behind this, so why do we still get moments like that one bit with Abradolf Linkler and those giant yellow turd pile aliens? (And no I am not going to show any of that.)
Now, I have nothing really against crude humour. It’s just when it’s done poorly and forcefully that it just smacks of being just a cynical attempt at getting a laugh. It’s like they had an editorial mandate to just throw a pointless raunchy joke in there to get the attention of the kind of stupid kids the show itself makes fun of. It’s when a character is named Principal Vagina. It’s never addressed in the story and nobody seems to even raise an eyebrow at it so it just comes off as a stupid throwaway gag. What, is the audience supposed to laugh because “Duh huh huh! Vaginas er fuhnee!”
Then again given the rest of the show it might be a satire of other shows that might do something similar, (looking at you, park of the south) but personally I have my doubts when there is another character called Mister Poopy Butthole who looks like this:
(Just looking at this character makes me hate him more and more.)
That aside, there are still quite a few things to like about the show. The voice acting is what you might expect from a show like this with a talented and well known cast to boot as well as a few incredibly subtle cameos from celebrities. Justin Roiland voices both Rick and Morty and it’s honestly hard to tell sometimes since the voices are so distinct from each other. Props to Roiland’s range on this project. The supporting characters are also varied and great. Special mention goes to Birdperson, the affable alien hitman Krombopulos Michael and the helpful yet terrifying and constantly shrieking Mister Meeseeks. The episode where Meeseeks appears is actually one of the funnier and most heartfelt episodes of the first season as well with really well done jokes and a touching resolution. However that same episode leads me to the next point.
The show can be genuinely horrifying at some points as well with adult fear aplenty. Most people might think of the kronenburg being every manifestation of body horror imaginable, but personally the worst offender is that one horrifying scene with King Jellybean in the episode Meeseeks and Destroy. And if the name of that character makes you think that it goes back to my previous statement about the 90/10 percent ratio of good and bad writing in this show, forget it. That scene is genuinely scary and played brutally straight. It’s probably one of the most affecting scenes in the show.
I can also praise the show for its refreshingly direct and sharp social commentary. Rick is always quick to call out the comedy of manners everyone else seems to live by in their ordinary lives, but it is still easy for the audience to see the flaws in Rick even if he doesn’t acknowledge them himself. It’s a good method of getting the audience to think more for themselves and provides some good opportunities for jokes. But really pretty much everyone in the cast gets their chance to snark at the world around them, which is always fun.
Rick and Morty also contains a lot of great sci-fi references, including a very subtle nod to Gravity Falls but also more classic movies, TV shows and books. If you’re a big science fiction fan or just know way too much about popular culture, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of the references that are thrown your way.
But I think it’s about time I wrap this up. This show is enjoyable and definitely worth your time to watch. However it’s held back by those moments of sheer idiocy that come out of nowhere and stain the otherwise great writing.