What the hell is Rick and Morty?
Thank you for asking. In short, it’s an animated series showing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block of animation that is thoroughly not for children, telling the story of super-scientist Rick Sanchez who takes his grandson Mortimer Smith on adventures in spacetime and across dimensions. Of course, this description while accurate, is totally, thoroughly and absolutely inadequate.
Imagine Dr. Emmet Brown from Back to the Future. Now imagine him insatiably inquisitive, perpetually drunk (though not an alcoholic, I’m sure he has a pill for that somewhere) and unrepentedly tactless, cynical, even nihilistic, but not a bad guy. After all, he loves his daughter and his grandchildren. That’s Rick Sanchez. As for Morty, imagine Marty McFly, but younger (14), dorkier, dimmer, shorter, more timid, far more insecure, and as sex-obsessed as real 14 year old boys are. That’s Morty.
Rick can travel through spacetime and across dimensions. He takes his grandson Morty along. Science-fictional hijinks ensue.
What’s right with Rick and Morty?
What isn’t right with Rick and Morty? Wait, that’s the next section.
First and foremost, it does not matter if you’re a science fiction film / tv fan or not. If you tune in to Rick and Morty you’ll find a devastatingly intelligent, unflinchingly satirical, unashamedly irreverent and laugh out loud funny show that hoists everyone and everything by their respective petards.
If you happen to be a fan, a knowledgable fan of science-fiction film and tv, you’ll be handsomely rewarded for all of those hours you’ve spent in darkened convention film rooms and/or late nights / early mornings bathed in the glow of CRTs watching movies on non major network channels. You’ll find the episodes at least twice as funny. The more you know, and not just about recent productions, the funnier you’ll find it. Hey, if you wish and if your friends let you, you’ll get to explain why it’s funny to others puzzled by your belly laughs, cementing into place stereotypes surrounding geeks and our media obsessions.
The show doesn’t pull many punches. There are times when it, for better or for worse, goes there. In a couple of episodes, it’s the gateway to, in my opinion, brilliance, as is somewhat explained later. In a couple of others, you just cringe. You understand why that which was done, was done. Still you can’t help but wonder if it couldn’t have been handled a bit differently. Then you realize it wouldn’t have fit into the feel of the series. And that feeling of continuity and cohesiveness is very important to “Rick and Morty”.
Anything else? I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered a better artistic representation of Everett’s Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics since reading Larry Niven’s short story, “All The Myriad Ways“.
What’s wrong with Rick and Morty?
Before seeing episode 7, Raising Gazorpazorp, I’d suspected that all of the writers on the show were male. That episode in particular solidified my suspicion. Sure enough, all of the writers are male, or at least have male names and present to the world as male. I’m not saying it’s a bad episode. Far from it. Nor am I saying that the point of view of the issues explored is invalid. I am saying that the punch, the validity of the episode’s arguments regarding gender, power and sexuality would have been bolstered by a mixed gender writing team. If you’re going to skewer the men’s movement, the women’s movement, Zardoz and Queen of Outer Space (amongst many others), a sausage fest won’t fly for long.
Rick and Morty isn’t perfect. The writing team is (currently) an all boys’ club. It is, however, brilliant, and I believe it is thoroughly deserving of recognition by the science fiction community.
A Hugo for Rick and Morty!
I am convinced that Rick and Morty deserve a Hugo award. But, which one? I could nominate season 1 in its entirety for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form). Alternatively I could nominate one or more individual episodes for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). I foresee issues with either route. Roadblocks between Rick and Morty and the BDP(LF) Hugo are probably The Hobbit and Guardians of the Galaxy, perhaps even Edge of Tomorrow. As far as the BDP(SF) goes, as usual, there’s any one of several Dr. Who episodes. Not just any episodes, though. This year introduced a new Doctor and those episodes are always very popular.
Given the small number of people who vote for the Hugos and the devoted and highly motivated fanbase enjoyed by existing shows/movies, a Hugo for Rick and Morty is both difficult and doable. Perhaps, with a head start and a bit of organization… I just need to make sure I register with Sasquan by 01/31/2015.
So, which Rick and Morty (so far) is the best or has the best chance of scoring a Hugo?
Please note: The following descriptions, while accurate, I’m pretty sure can’t be considered spoilers by any reasonable human being or Plutonian. The links, however, will take you directly to a wiki which explains everything and I mean everything.
Perhaps I should nominate “Meeseeks and Destroy”? It’s the heartwarming tale of a simple man taking two strokes off of his golf game. I think it’s a good episode. Well, I think they’re all good episodes. I also think this episode traipsed over the line into, um, trigger territory. I’ll elaborate a few weeks hence, perhaps.
What about “Raising Gazorpazorp“? In my opinion it’s the best written episode so far. It takes a unflinchingly Ricksonian look at childhood, parenthood, gender politics, violence, celebrity, even fashion. Unfortunately, there’s no way in hell it could win for reasons stated before. Truth, I’ve just now figured out a visual pun placed very prominently throughout the entire episode.
The more I think about it, the more I think that “Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind” is the single episode that has the best chance of getting a Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. First of all, it really ties everything all together. All of the world-building the writers and audience have been engaging in is both validated and subverted. Yes, it is a cohesive universe. Even though everything fits together, yes, you’ll probably be surprised a couple of times in the episode. It does, however, have the most stupid episode title in the series so far. I think it’s a episode that rewards repeated viewing, careful listening and close examination. I think it is also an episode making use of the ‘unreliable narrator’, but I’m not sure.
Yes. I like it. What do YOU think?