By: Ian McNeice
On December 2nd, 2013 viewers were confused and amazed by the animated science fiction sitcom, “Rick and Morty.” To briefly describe the premise of the show, a brilliant yet extremely ill mannered scientist named Rick Sanchez takes his grandson, a timid and fidgety young boy named Morty, on wild adventures using his many inventions that he seems to create with absolute ease. The invention most central to the overall plot of the show would be his inter-dimensional portal gun, which allows him to walk through time, space, and conceivable reality in an instant. As Rick describes, there are an infinite number of parallel universes with an infinite number of possibilities. Along with the ability to jump between universes, his other inventions supplement the show’s tendency to push its content beyond the boundaries of what is considered normal. Although the show does have potential for a limitless source of variety, it does run the risk of becoming repetitive as well.
Due to the show’s accessibility to a literally infinite source of possible content, this has allowed writers and animators alike to run wild with whatever comes to mind. From characters like Mr. Meeseeks and Krombopulous Michael to settings such as a miniverse within a miniverse within a miniverse within a battery for a space car, the program’s ability to create new and unique content is unrivaled by any other show. However, due to the extreme uniqueness of the characters and settings, it has created an acquired taste in terms of its comedic value. It requires viewers to have a taste and for the unexpected and a desire to be completely thrown for a loop. This includes, but is not limited to, Rick and Morty destroying their universe only to kill versions of themselves in a very similar yet alternate universe and bury their bodies in the backyard or Morty’s father Jerry being shot 55 times as he tries to force surgeons to replace an alien’s failing heart with his penis. These are only some of the simpler examples that come to mind when recalling what has happened in the first two seasons of the show. With such extreme changes in plot happening within the small timeframe of a single episode, it is no wonder that many are turned off by the show and tend to avoid it. However, this is also due to the looseness within much of the character dialogue.
As a comedy that has a niche audience, “Rick and Morty” uses some specific conventions that make it a one of a kind program. Other than the limitless potential content, this is also achieved through the specific dialogue that many of the characters display that make it feel like the creators are laughing with the audience. The most blatant examples are the central characters, Rick and Morty, as they stutter and fumble over their lines, making it feel amateur. This can make the simplest of jokes, such as a cable television show about a man fighting a car every week, stretch out far beyond their intended punch line as the announcer is laughing about how the car always wins. It allows the viewer to feel like they were in the studio, creating the joke with the writers. However, many general viewers tend to stray away from this type of programming specifically due to the amateur aesthetic. Although with each consecutive episode, viewers are able to understand the methods of comedy employed and become increasingly more attached to the show. A suitable analogy would be tasting alcohol for the first time. No one likes the taste but as you drink it more and see your peers drinking it as well, you begin to see the appeal of what makes it entertaining and satisfying. Eventually you are drunk with the show’s bizarre nature and can’t tell how ridiculous it truly is until someone who has not seen it watches it with you. “Rick and Morty” has achieved what no other television show in today’s current programming has. It continually and successfully breaks the boundaries of normal expectations and ignores the traditional conventions of mainstream television while maintaining a mainstream presence and popularity at the same time. However, specifically due to its massive variability, it runs the risk of crashing and burning soon after its season 3 premiere.
One of the most common ways for a popular television show to fail completely is becoming stale and repetitive. For instance, “Family Guy” has become a hollow shell of its former self as it constantly repeats and reuses mechanics and conventions that were initially successful such as their famous cut-away gags. “Rick and Morty” has a rather high chance of following this similar trend. Although they have unlimited numbers of possible settings and characters, the show’s writers have been walking down the same path since its first episode. Rick takes Morty on a wild adventure, some of the family members have an equally interesting side plot, and everything is resolved either at the end of the current episode of the beginning of the next. Their explosive manner of throwing craziness and unbelievable spectacle in the viewers’ faces gives them a rapid and strong presence right out of the gate but leaves them open for repetitiveness. As someone who has seen both of the first seasons and the first episode of season 3, I have already been desensitized and the anticipation value for the show has dropped severely. All that is left for entertainment value comes from the loose, personal dialogue and Rick’s general lack of care for the universe and everything around him.
Although I have criticized this show thoroughly for its shortcomings, this is only because I have been so confused by the show’s rapid rise in popularity given the content. After watching the first two seasons, I cannot wait to see what they have in store for season 3. Although it has the ability to flop early on in terms of repetitiveness, it still has not failed to surprise me at least once with each episode. Overall, I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a drastic change within his or her viewing habits. It gives its viewers a new perspective on what television can do and how much it can still surprise us. “Rick and Morty” blasts the doors of possibility off its hinges and plunges viewers deep into the realm of lunacy and chaos.