The Beautiful Pain of Rick and Morty

Have you watched Rick and Morty? It’s my latest cartoon obsession. Half sci-fi adventure and half dysfunctional family drama, Rick and Morty is about a mad scientist and his grandson, as they hop back and forth between universes, having adventures and imperiling all of mankind.

It’s not a cartoon for everyone, but the stories are so good that they hurt! My ribs hurt from laughing, and my heart aches from all the feels. Here are a few reasons to check it out:

It’s Imaginative

There is no telling where an episode of Rick and Morty might take you. A theme park built inside an old man’s guts? A planet full of clones? A high-tech prison staffed by insect-people? The locations are bizarre and funny, and occasionally scary and gross. It’s a wild ride, and delightfully unpredictable.

Gold Star Profanity

When used appropriately, profanity makes me laugh. And I laugh a lot when I watch Rick and Morty! In the hands of their writers, a profanity-laced rant can become poetry. It’s crude, but it leaves me in stitches, every time.

Societal Critiques

Rick loves to insult our most cherished institutions. While you might disagree with him (and I often do), the commentary is entertaining and even thought-provoking. Our school system, religion, marriage, and government-nothing is off limits.

Existential Dread

If you’ve ever felt like life is absurd (or even pointless), you’ll find themes in Rick and Morty that you can relate to. Rick is a nihlist, and while this makes him arrogant and unpleasant, it also makes him sympathetic. Why are we here? What is life all about? If life is meaningless, why even bother caring? Even though I disagree with the conclusions that Rick draws, I’m fascinated by those questions.

Unusually Deep Character Development

When animated characters don’t change, they become stereotypes. Homer Simpson is a good example. He hasn’t changed much in the last thirty years, and as a result, his character is no longer that interesting.

Thankfully, when the characters in Rick and Morty face death, violence, abandonment, and tragedy, you’ll see them change. One of my favorite episodes was a wacky adventure where Rick turned himself into a pickle to avoid going to the therapist with his family. The therapist ends up showing them exactly how dysfunctional they are, and as a result, shock waves roll through the family. Beth and her dad have the first real conversation we’ve ever seen. Real character development, in the midst of a wacky cartoon.

Character development puts more pressure on the writers of the show, but it also makes the story arc quite rewarding. Rick and Morty and Beth and Summer and Jerry do represent certain stereotypes, but they’re also somehow real. How cool is that? In that regard Rick and Morty has left the Simpsons (and even Futurama) in the dust.

The Beautiful Pain of Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty invites us to revel in the complexity of our lives. Life is painful, and it’s also beautiful. We love our families, even when they’re dysfunctional assholes. It’s much easier to see someone else’s flaws than to admit your own. Being smart won’t necessarily make you happy, and it might even make it harder. Love is irrational, and it might be the only thing that matters. Not that we want to admit that. Vulnerability is for (insert curse word), right? Let’s go have an adventure! May as well go have some fun, before the clock runs out.

I’m so pleased that I ran across this show! And it probably sounds either great or terrible, depending upon your point of view. If it’s the former, you can get the first few episodes for free on Adult Swim. Three seasons are available on Amazon Video.

Enjoy! (And Get Schwifty)