November 10, 2017

The Appeal of 'Rick and Morty'

Aytan Geschwind ‘19

July 2017 saw the official premiere of the much-anticipated third season of Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty,” which returned after a grueling 16-month hiatus. Nearly three million people tuned in to watch the first episode live. But why exactly has this adult animated sitcom become so popular?
“Rick and Morty” follows an innocent teenage boy, Morty, and his genius mad scientist grandfather, Rick, on their adventures throughout the multiverse. The characters’ cynical personalities and the show’s atheistic and existential outlook plays a large part in its appeal to viewers, even those who do not agree with its philosophies.
“I like the show because it's different from all other animated comedies in that it makes viewers think about really deep questions and concepts,” junior Itai Rekem said.
The idea that life is meaningless and that human existence is absurd allows the show to push the limits of what many would consider to be appropriate television and to create bizarre and hilarious characters, such as Bird Person and Abradolf Lincler – half Abraham Lincoln, half Adolf Hitler.
The show is able to entertain and make the viewer contemplate often dark existential questions simultaneously. Many fan-favorite episodes are laugh-out-loud hilarious for the first 20 minutes, but quickly become dark and disturbing at the very end.
“‘Rick and Morty’ is great because it crosses almost every line imaginable,” junior Jacob Bier said. “The writers aren’t afraid to talk about anything.”
One particularly dark moment occurs when Rick and Morty visit an intergalactic arcade. In the game that Morty plays, called “Roy,” the player’s mind is cast into another man. The player lives Roy’s entire life. Once Roy dies, the player is given a score based on the quality of Roy’s life. Showing someone’s entire life as a meaningless number is both disturbing and funny.
As a comedy, “Rick and Morty” engages its viewers with humor in a variety of forms. The show frequently takes advantage of its unique philosophies and its setting – the entire multiverse – to make jokes that are both clever and strange. One recurring setting is the Citadel, where every resident is either a Rick or a Morty from a different universe.
It is common for the writers to base many parts of the plot on actual theoretical science. This does not mean that the show won’t shamelessly cast aside real physics to tell a good story, but it does serve as a nice aside for any science buffs.
“The show makes many references that go over the average viewer’s head,” Mr. Stern said. “Its enjoyable for the less-informed and really enjoyable for the more-informed.”
The writers of “Rick and Morty” constantly try to engage their viewers in unusual ways. One of their tactics is the frequent use of fourth-wall breaks, which allow the writers to talk directly to their viewers and to pose the question of whether some of the characters know that they’re in a television show.
Of course “Rick and Morty” also has all of the other features expected from a great television show: twists, cliff-hangers and great visuals.
“Rick and Morty” is one of the best shows currently on television. It is quick, clever, visually and conceptually dense and full of great humor. It displays a perfect contrast between human emotion and existential nihilism and it continues to find creative ways to make viewers think. While the humor is occasionally dirty and the plot is occasionally disturbing, “Rick and Morty” delivers laughs and questions for everyone to enjoy.

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