I gotta be honest, the first time I watched it, I honestly didn’t see what the hype was. This was way back in season 1 (2013) when a new, burgeoning show about a mad scientist and his awkward, teenage grandson was starting to take off. The premise was really cool, but I just didn’t get the humor.
Fast-forward about four years later. Every little thing that once annoyed me is something I can’t stop laughing at. And it only took watching a few more episodes. Something about the outrageousness of the show is just frickin’ hilarious. And genius. I sort of had an epiphany while watching the episode where Rick and Morty go dream-hopping and encounter Scary Terry, a character parody of Freddy Krueger who uses the word “bitch” a lot. Throughout each dream layer, the world they encounter becomes more and more chaotic. Then they discover that Scary Terry is really a depressed monster with marital issues and deep-rooted self-esteem problems arising from childhood failures and an inability to be “scary enough”. So they help him. It’s basically an Inception/Nightmare on Elm Street parody. What a weirdly perfect match.
Meanwhile, in reality, the family dog (now mentally enhanced, thanks to Rick) tries to take over the human race. If that isn’t weird enough, there’s another episode where Morty has sexual relations with a robot toy that gives birth to a Gazorpazorp, which grows up into a rebellious teenager, complete with PC rants: “God is dead, the government sucks, Thanksgiving is about killing Indians, Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas…”
That’s some of the least weird stuff on the show. In another episode, Rick invents a potion that makes everyone fall in love with Morty, then want to kill him as the entire human race turns into vicious, otherworldly creatures. The solution: kill themselves in an alternate universe where they die, take their places, and then bury their exploded corpses in the backyard. That’s about average for a Rick and Morty episode.
Or “Keep Summer safe”. Or “Mr. Poopy Butthole”, a real long-time friend of the family who gets shot when they’re stuck in a timeline/universe/whatever that keeps implanting fake memories into everyone’s consciousness. Who’s the impostor? Rick, Beth, Summer, Morty, Jerry, or a character named Mr. Poopy Butthole?
These are the kinds of moral dilemmas that the characters face. Things seem to come out of the blue, completely inexplicably, in ways you could hardly guess. And that’s the brilliance of the show: its utter chaos. The writers just seem to be making it up as they go along. And they do so in such an incredible way.
And, as a matter of fact, a lot of the show IS improvised. Meaning, obviously the writers/creators hash out a basic plot. But when it comes to the voice acting/editing, so much gets tossed in the mix. Which is why you hear certain characters stuttering a lot. Not only does it give a more realistic tone, but it also gives the actors leeway for epic improvisation.
“What’s funny is that they make up a lot of this shit as they go” one of my friends told me. The randomness of Rick and Morty is one of its crowning achievements. What do you think is going to happen when the duo embark on a Jack and the Beanstalk fantasy quest? They scare the giant who trips, breaks his skull on the table, and dies violently in front of his screaming wife and infant son. She calls the cops. Cut to mugshots of the two, then an extended police interrogation, then a court scene. After getting let out of “Giant Court” they spend the rest of the episode trying to climb down a long series of giant stairs. Later they stop at a restaurant and Morty almost gets raped by a talking jellybean. Who later turns out to be the king of the village they just came from. So they shoot him.
It’s all morbidly hilarious. And twice as much when you realize that so much of the show’s talent comes from being able to think on the spot. Even if it’s last thing in the world (or multiverse) that you would ever expect to see. And the Rick-burps: those are dead real. Voice actor Justin Roiland drinks a low calorie beer and a bottle of water just to produce them. Sometimes they even get hammered in the studio during filming.
The show’s improv skills are probably best represented in the episode “Rixty Minutes”. the premise sounds boring, but the execution is utter gold. Basically Rick and Morty spend the entire episode watching alternate reality tv shows, flipping from channel to channel. We see action shows about “ball fondlers”. We see the Lucky Charms leprechaun get disembowled graphically. And, best yet, is the movie trailer for “Two Brothers”. The improv is at full-force here. It starts out with Two Brothers. In a van. Then a meteor hits. Then tornadoes. And Mexicans with tomato guns. Old ladies soon join the fight, fully armed. It becomes Alien Invasion, something, something, Tomato Monster, Mexican Armada. The part that brings it out, wonderfully, is when you hear the voice actor cracking up near the end of the trailer. They kept all the laughs in the final take.
The beauty of randomness in Rick and Morty is that you can do pretty much anything you want with it. Add the sci-fi, multidimensional factor, and you’ve got a show without limitations. No idea is too big. Rick can send a ship crashing into a space station and then casually excuse himself by saying “I’m gonna go take shit.” What the hell is the point of that? Why the hell does it matter?
Who cares? It’s funny as hell. And it never feels misplaced, for the show’s brand of humor. You could only expect a show like Rick and Morty to pull a total Rick and Morty by showing its Season 3 premiere on April Fools’ Day, after such a long wait. And completely out of the blue. But I’m still pissed they made me wait another week for Samurai Jack.
Anyways, (burrrrrp), you gotta (burrrrp), you gotta check out seasons 1 and 2. The same (burrrpp) episodes that you’ve already watched about five or six times by now. Rick and Morty proves that the best, most entertaining way to tell a story is sometimes about making the script as you go along. Without it, you wouldn’t have “Get Schwifty”. Or some of the show’s most hilarious moments.
And on a related, completely transitional note: WUBBALUBBADUBDUB!