It started when Justin Roiland created Doc and Mharti, a filthy cartoon parody of Doc and Marty from the Back to the Future movie series to annoy the lawyers at Universal Studios. But after three years, two seasons and a little bit of clean-up, Rick and Morty has achieved cult status as one of the best animated shows on television. The show is returning for a third season in December, but the first two seasons are available on Netflix.
Rick and Morty, created by Roliand and Community showrunner Dan Harmon, is a remarkably bizarre and heartwarming cartoon show for grown-ups. Rick Sanchez, the smartest man in the universe, is a perpetually drunk scientific genius who has moved in with his daughter’s family after being gone for 20 years. Eager to reconnect with her father, Beth welcomes him home. He repays her emotional generosity by turning her garage into his science lab and whisking her son away to almost always life-threatening adventures through space and time.
His 14-year-old grandson Morty is the perfect side-kick. Never the brightest cookie in the box, he serves as perfect moral foil to Rick’s sociopathic selfishness. They travel through time and space in Rick’s space ship and using his portal gun to collect raw material for his research to prevent alien attacks or invasion, or even to just have a good time.
Rick and Morty is one of the weirdest and the most extraordinary things on television right now. The series has found fans in a great number of actors, some of who have guest starred as voice artists, including Alfred Molina, Stephen Colbert, Werner Herzog, Christina Hendrix, Keith David, John Oliver and Jim Rash. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening is also known to have been hooked to the show. Gorneing has invited Harmon and Roiland to create a couch gag for an episode, just in time for Rick and Morty’s second season premiere.
Rick and Morty is not just a new spin on established science fiction tropes. It is also a journey into the dark and twisted minds of the writers. The show takes the idea of a dream within a dream and then re-imagines the consequences if the dream was a really crazy one – featuring sexual fantasies and serial killers. Rick creates a box that summons a one-wish genie, Meseeks whose sole purpose is to perform a job for you and disappear, but things get really outrageous when they are unable to bear the pain of existence and become homicidal.
In one episode, Rick creates a love potion to help Morty get the girl of his dreams. But the love potion turns into an airborne genetic mutating epidemic, turning everyone on the planet into violently obsessed mantises. Rick and Morty escape into a parallel dimension, just as their parallel Rick and Morty die in the garage, and they replace themselves in this new reality. As Morty buries himself (from another dimension) in the garden, something changes in him forever.
The show’s ingenuity is often as shocking as it is fascinating, and morality is viewed as more of a hindrance than an essential virtue.
Rixty Minutes, an episode from season one that features television from every cable network in the entire universe, is a riot and a creative triumph. It is played out as Morty’s parents, Beth and Jerry, imagine what life could have been had they aborted their first born.
Every so often, humanity seeps through the cracks. Rick is a selfish jerk, but Morty and Summer help him stay grounded. In the middle of the bizarre adventure on a planet invaded by a consciousness, we learn about loss and heartbreak. The show has a heart, and the thrilling escapades often end with deep and profound discussions about suicide, depression, divorce, or faith.
Greatly inspired by Doctor Who and Douglas Adams’s incredible The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Rick and Morty has given the raw material a wholly new treatment – one that works exceptionally well.