Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Rick and Morty? More Like Dick and Shorty!

A couple years ago, people started raving about this show Rick and Morty, some weird cartoon co-created by Dan Harmon of Community fame. It was wacky sci-fi and it was brilliant and I would love it, they said. Flash forward to this year when my brother and sister-in-law were flabbergasted that I had not seen one of their favorite shows ever, and then flash forward to now, when I have watched it. Time travel is fun, right??

Rick and Morty is about Rick and Morty. Rick is a mad scientist, and Morty is his dimwitted grandson. Both voiced by co-creator Justin Roiland, their repartee is always sharp, ridiculous, hilarious, and utterly unique in its cadence and delivery, thanks to Rick's intermittent belches and tendency to address Morty by name multiple times and Morty's extreme anxiety and stuttering. It's a treat to listen to Roiland characterize them simply through his voice. Rick and Morty go on wacky sci-fi adventures, much to the consternation of their family. Beth, Rick's daughter and Morty's mom, loves her father despite the fact that he's a raging alcoholic asshole. Jerry, Beth's husband and Morty's dad, has no such love for his father-in-law; also it is clear where Morty gets his dimwittedness from. Summer, Morty's sister, takes more after her mother (who, I should mention, is a horse surgeon). This is a show about a family, but it is by no means a family show.

The show delights in playing with genre tropes and extrapolating to the darkest, most disturbing conclusion. Someone described it as a darker version of Futurama, and that's not far off, actually! It also has a bit of Doctor Who in its DNA, although in retrospect I am surprised that there weren't more direct references. Rick and Morty travel to different planets and dimensions, and Roiland and Harmon revel in being absurd and scatological but also very clever in how they approach these well-worn elements. Expect things to go wrong and people to die because that forces the writers to truly examine the consequences of these things we take for granted. But while they're having fun with these stand-alone adventures, Roiland and Harmon are also building a universe with continuity and telling a larger story on a pretty epic scale.

And yet they are also telling a smaller story on a more intimate scale. Because for how completely out there this show is, it's surprisingly grounded when it comes to its character relationships. Sure, they are placed in some fucked up situations, but the interactions ring true. Beth and Jerry must take a look at their shitty marriage. Beth wants to have a closer relationship with her father. Rick is an asshole to Morty (and, uh, everyone) but maybe secretly has a heart. Morty enjoys going on adventures with his grandfather but that doesn't mean Rick gets a free pass to be an asshole. Summer is discovering how she fits into this weird-ass family.

Rick and Morty isn't for everyone, for sure. You've got to roll with its brand of sophomoric humor and freewheeling plotting. But it's a lot of fun, and it's smarter than it seems. Also there is a character called Mr. Poopy Butthole.
Tags: new show squee, rick and morty, tv
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