7 reasons to be excited for the return of Rick and Morty
It feels like forever since Rick and Morty first amazed us when it aired on Adult Swim. In fact it’s been a year and a half since we were introduced to Rick, a foul-mouthed alcoholic scientist, and Morty, his grandson, who acts as Rick’s sidekick and is often unenthused to be taking part in his grandfather’s life-threatening intergalactic adventures. The pair hop dimensions, travel through alien worlds, and encounter a scope of weird and wonderful creatures along the way. Behind their many exploits, the wider family carries on as normal, burdened with the obstacles of their day-to-day lives and wholly unimpressed by Rick’s genius (unless it benefits them in some way, of course).
The creators of Rick and Morty have managed to come up with a show that feels completely original, full of new and ridiculous concepts and refreshingly crude characters. That’s no easy feat, particularly in animation, today. Each episode is sure to dazzle, evoke uncontrollable laughter, and leave us asking ‘what the f***?’ quite a lot.
Here are just 7 of a plethora of reasons that this season is going to be mind-blowing…
The intergalactic adventures of Rick and Morty span multitudes of timelines, dimensions and universes, so the pair can quite literally go anywhere, and the possibilities for storylines are unlimited, much like the boundless exploits of the show’s semi-titular models, Doc Brown and Marty McFly. On the other hand, this flexibility is juxtaposed with the normality of everyday family life and storylines around the household which take place in our world (i.e. ‘Earth Dimension C-137’). We encounter secondary subplots concerned with things like Beth and Jerry’s marital difficulties, Summer’s quest for popularity and Morty chasing after his high school crush Jessica, giving the show a necessary grounding and space for ‘worldly’ jokes, along with all of the mad stuff. It’s the perfect mix of clever wit, utter gross-out gags, humdrum humour and fantastical science fiction-adventure. There is something for everyone in the show’s varied content!
Beth and Jerry
Voiced by the wonderful Chris Parnell and Sarah Chalke, both perfectly cast in their roles as Morty’s realistically dysfunctional parents, Beth and Jerry ground the show in comic realism as they attempt to keep alive their flagging marriage in the midst of the chaotic household. Jerry is tormented by insecurities and feels frequently emasculated, whilst Beth is marred by contemplations of what could have been had she not got pregnant and married Jerry at such a young age…she longs to be a ‘more complete woman’, and both appear unfulfilled in their marital life. Due to the spot-on voice acting and fly-on-the-wall style of writing, Beth and Jerry are charming in their imperfections and selfish tendencies, and we are rooting for them to stay together because they make the perfect dysfunctional couple. At NY Comic Con last year, Sarah Chalke hinted that one of her favourite episodes in the new season involves Beth and Jerry going to off-planet couple’s therapy, so we get to root for them evermore.
Gorgeous and otherworldly animation
The animators of Rick and Morty must never be bored, because they are challenged to create new worlds and settings in every episode. Whereas episodes of The Simpsons or Family Guy usually take place in the same settings and so can use the same backgrounds and character templates, Rick and Morty travel to new and intricate worlds in each show, encountering strange creatures and unknown life forms along the way. Therefore the animators are constantly designing, and their prowess can be seen in the final result. Surreal creatures from Season 1 such as the Zigerions, Gazorpazorpians and pretty much all of Rick’s weird party guests in ‘Ricksy Business’, and lavish landscapes such as Anatomy Park, Scary Terry’s dreamscape, and Dimension 35-C in the pilot episode, set the remarkable tone for what we have to look forward to in Season 2, which promises to be even more visually impressive.
Its many broad influences
Co-creator Dan Harmon has described the show as a cross between The Simpsons and Futurama due to its balancing of science fiction and family life. It’s fair to say that The Simpsons is the mould for the majority of animated shows being aired today in terms of writing and style (particularly family-based sitcoms), and Rick and Morty feels like a worthy candidate for its successor. It also does a great job selecting some of Futurama’s strongest components and running with them, taking concepts to new places whilst dirtying-up the humour for a more adult audience. And as well as the obvious Back to the Future, other sci fi influences such as Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy can also be felt in Rick and Morty’s concepts and aesthetic. Mix this with a modern-Simpsons animation style, (blended nicely in the recent couch gag crossover) which also borrows from contemporaries Regular Show and Adventure Time, and you have the perfect fusion of references.
Pop culture sensibility
Rick and Morty is one of those shows that magically makes us all feel as if we’re part of an in-joke, with wit and timing that is sharp as a pin and jokes that can be scrutinized for their brilliance long after they’ve landed. It also has a knack for peppering pop-culture references sparingly and cleverly without detracting from the fantastical nature of the show. The dig at Inception in Season 1 (‘if this is confusing and stupid, then so is everyone’s favourite movie’), for example, fits so well with the show’s tone (sounding like exactly something Rick would say), and remains funny long after it’s ‘relevant’. With shows like Family Guy relying so heavily on cutaway gags and dumb references, audiences are primed for some intelligently written dialogue along with general cartoon silliness. Rick and Morty balances otherworldly concepts with self-referential gags and base humour, trusting its audience to ‘get it’ and keep up with the rapid pacing of joke-telling for the duration of the ride.
It has to be one of the weirdest shows airing today, and we’re often left wondering how on earth the writers came up with some of the show’s concepts and characters. No attempt is made to normalize or tone down the surrealism to appeal to a wider audience, and that’s why we love it. Because it’s ok to be weird! Some of the crazier ideas from Season 1 include King Jellybean (a large transparent jelly bean man who tries to sexually assault Morty in the bathroom), the world of anthropoid chairs who sit on people and talk into pizza, and a man advertising his store who happens to perpetually have ants in his eyes. All ideas that are as hilarious as they are mad. There is no doubt that Season 2 will be stuffed with surrealism and ridiculousness, that we will get to wallow in and reference in our daily lives for a long time to come.
Return of Evil Morty?
The writers have alluded to the fact that Season 2 will consist of all-new storylines and concepts, and that any open plot threads from Season 1 have been discarded in favour of fresh material. This is a great thing, an indication that the show’s creators are dedicated to keeping the show from going stale or relying too heavily on in-jokes and rehashing (a slew of other shows currently on-air could take note). However, the penultimate episode of Season 1, ‘Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind’ ended with a superbly Keyser Söze-esque twist and the introduction of an eyepatch-wearing evil version of Morty disappearing into a crowd of Mortys after being rescued by the council of Ricks. It is implied that he was controlling Evil Rick all along, and is infinitely more cunning and intelligent than any of the Ricks in existence. If any concept from Season 1 is to be revisited, this should be the one, as Evil Morty could be the only worthy foe for Rick!
Rick and Morty is back on our screens on Sunday 26th July. Wubba lubba dub dub!