The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Rick and Morty
For a while now, I’ve wanted to give Rick and Morty some time on Dissecting Fiction. Like many, I fell in love with this show and see no signs of getting tired of it anytime soon. That said, I find that, Adult Swim shows are hit or miss.
They’ve had a lot of successful programming and I do enjoy quite a bit of their stuff. I remember a time in the early years of the network when they aired a bunch of pilots that would potentially be picked up for series. A lot of them never went any further than the pilot. I bring this up because Adult Swim is better known for their original fifteen minute cartoons. They have gained massive followings for shows like Metalocalypse, Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They have also produced stand out half an hour programs like Home Movies, The Venture Brothers and The Boondocks, but it takes longer for those to be animated and they focused more on their fifteen minute content. As time passed, Adult Swim began to produce original live-action content such Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and The Eric Andre Show. From a business standpoint, it made sense. Why dump time and money into a long process like animation when you can create content much quicker? It was a no-brainer, and seemed like it was where they would be going. They would still air their cartoons, but they were often reruns. It was during this time that I stopped watching Adult Swim. I felt some of the stuff was okay, but the live action content just wasn’t strong enough to keep me watching. Then, out of nowhere, I caught a trailer online for the new animated series they would be airing, Rick and Morty. I was drawn in right away by it’s animation style and premise. The pilot had me within the first three minutes, as it is immediately established that Rick is the type of super genius that can do anything.
Brilliantly, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland use this aspect of Rick to explore the themes of “Cosmic Horror”, a sub-genre often attributed to H.P. Lovecraft, that explores the idea that humanity is insignificant in the universe. Instead of treating it like horror though, the show most often plays it for laughs. In this regard, Rick and Morty very much reminds me another one of my favorite writers, Douglas Adams, best known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He too would make fun of how the rest of the universe might look at us. Another thing they both do incredibly well is provide a lot of brilliant satire, from the Vogons in Hitchhiker’s, who are portrayed as extreme bureaucrats to the Mr. Meseeks in Rick and Morty, who after serving a singular purpose, cease existing. The influence is there, and I happily see it in every episode. Rick and Morty also excels at world building. In a seemingly endless multiverse, there are no end to places you can explore with these characters. On top of that, there’s an overarching plot unraveling throughout the series, something few Adult Swim shows have tried. After the great reception Season One got, they were ready to start the second shortly after. Once season two had ended, it was even more apparent to Adult Swim, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, that they had a hit on their hands. Now, after completing its third season, Rick and Morty has become the most popular animated series on Adult Swim. I’m interested to see how the network handles this, because they obviously didn’t expect the show to blow up the way it did. So, like many others, I look forward to seeing the further adventures Rick and Morty. I am also very interested to see how Adult Swim handles the shows increasing popularity.