PUBLISHED 31 MAY 2017
WHEN RICK AND MORTY began in December 2013, it became an instant cult hit due to its wacky tone and ridiculous humour while still remaining heartfelt. Since the second series it has continued to grow in popularity and has become a mainstream staple of animated television, with ratings growing from just over a million viewers in series one to over two million in series two. The show follows arrogant and slightly crazy Rick (voiced by Justin Roiland) and his meek and nervous grandson Morty (also voiced by Justin Roiland) as well as Morty’s sister Summer (Spencer Grammer) and his parents Beth (Sarah Chalke) and Jerry (Chris Parnell), as they travel throughout the galaxy and the multiverse, which is the main source of comedy for the series.
The idea of the multiverse creates an infinite pool of creatures and worlds to encounter while also showing different versions of the world we know. In the episode “Rixty Minutes”, Interdimensional Cable is introduced, allowing Rick and the family to watch television shows from any reality. Most of the episode focuses on Rick and the family exploring the various stupid, silly and sidesplittingly funny channels. There is a show that plays with the idea of the buddy cop genre with a cop that has baby legs and one with regular legs, a commercial for an electronics store where the owner has ants in his eyes and a world where hamsters use people as their homes. There is a lot that can be exploited from the idea of a multiverse and RICK AND MORTY makes the most of that opportunity.
But while there is a lot of comedic material that can be taken out of the idea of the multiverse, the episode still uses it to introduce existential issues for the characters to deal with. Summer, Beth and Jerry are given goggles that allow them to see themselves in alternate realities and Beth and Jerry see how successful they could have been if they had not got together. The couple already feel they do not belong together due to their different personalities and this creates another crack in their marriage. However, they see that their alternate selves reunite as both are deeply unhappy with their lives and wished they had stayed together after high school. This raises ideas of choice over destiny because Beth and Jerry chose to remain apart but still found themselves together.
Summer also considers running away as she feels her existence has held back her parents but Morty has a deeply existential discussion with her that concludes with: “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody is gonna die. Come watch TV?”. This in itself is a very nihilistic statement as it establishes the futility of life. Destiny, fate and the meaning of life are all central themes to the show and are ideas that the multiverse interrogates. So while the show may exploit the comedic potential of the multiverse, it also uses it to help develop the characters and introduce thought-provoking ideas. RICK AND MORTY has proven itself to be one of the most inventive shows currently on television and with the third season returning later this year, its devoted fans will be waiting with bated breath to see what the duo will encounter next. Maybe, just maybe, they will find a reality with some Szechuan Sauce.
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