Wubba lubba dub dub to one and all. If you don't know what Rick's catchphrase means, search for it on Google. Google knows Birdperson. With Rick and Morty’s third season in full swing, I decided to binge the first two seasons in one weekend.
Did my mind slightly melt? Sure. Did the deep into Dan Harmon’s mind over two days do strange things to me? Yes. Did I laugh uncontrollably and quote the show nonstop? Of course. But after having some time to reflect on the show, Rick and Morty is one of the more nuanced cartoons for adults on television, if not the most sophisticated show. Spoilers below.
This season, there is an episode where Rick, the not so lovable alcoholic super genius, turns himself into a pickle. For the fun of it. When Pickle Rick was introduced, over a year ago, fans loved the idea instantly. But the real meaning behind Pickle Rick is much darker. Rick just didn’t want to go to family therapy.
Morty, his grandson, Summer, his granddaughter, and Beth, his daughter, all agree to go to family therapy. Rick doesn't believe in therapy. So, he turns himself into a pickle for the hell of it. The perfect excuse. Rick’s story becomes a Diehard parody while his family is trying to deal with its dysfunctional relationship. “Pickle Rick” trolling the audience (http://nerdist.com/rick-and-morty-pickle-rick-trolling/) shows the brilliance behind the show. Rick and Morty takes the preconceived notion that Rick becoming a pickle is the main story of the episode. But his inability to face his internal demons. Rick would rather die, drink, or turn himself into a pickle than deal with daily personal maintenance.
Perhaps the darkest episode comes early in the first season with “Rick Potion No. 9”. Morty wants a love potion, and Rick makes him one. Classic sitcom hijinks, right? By episode’s end, most of the world had become Cronenberg monsters. Rick finds an alternate universe, which is a fundamental concept within Rick and Morty, where Rick solved the Cronenberg problem. But accidentally kills himself and Morty in the garage. The Rick and Morty that we are watching portal to this new reality bury their other dead selves in the backyard. Then go about their day. Everything else is the same. But they are living in their former self’s world. Still laughing?
Morty never forgets that he is living in another universe. When he looks out the window, he sees the very shallow grave where a different version of himself and his grandfather are buried. Rick doesn’t care. Has he done this before? Probably. These dark twists tint the off the wall hilarious nature of animated shows for adults. Rick and Morty deals with these concepts with a much sharper edge than a show like Family Guy. Depression, relationships, family, suicide, marriage counseling, false memories, and more are covered in each season. Many within the same episode.
Are we living in a simulation right now? The odds might surprise you. There’s an episode about that too.
The scathing worldview that Rick and Morty provides is both refreshing and deeply disturbing. Whether it be a critical look at how superheroes, or real-life heroes, are unworthy of our admiration or how the innocence of the hero's journey is broken by reality, the nuances of the narrative support the sharply pointed criticism. Though the overwhelming amounts of brutality throughout the show can turn off viewers, there is more to this picture than gratuitous violence. Even after binging the show recently, I've already found myself rewatching episodes. I'm torn between choosing the more rational side of the argument, Rick, and the optimistic innocence that Morty possesses. Ultimately there are no right or wrong answers, but a multiverse of opportunities.
New episodes of Rick and Morty air Sundays at 10:30 pm CT on Adult Swim/Cartoon Network.