Since its debut in December 2013, Rick and Morty has reached cult status in both Europe and America. There was a brief period in 2017 when it seemed like the cartoon about a time-traveling alcoholic grandpa and his dim-witted good-intentioned grandson Morty was everybody’s favorite show. But how exactly did the Adult Swim kooky creation become such a big hit with just about everyone who has seen it?
Well, there are a lot of answers to that. First off, it’s a cartoon for adults. Sure, there’s been about a million episodes of Family Guy and South Park prior to the show’s arrival but Rick and Morty deals with adult themes and gets you unwillingly contemplating the meaning of existence. In one of the earliest episodes, we watch a grumpy Rick and a quivering Morty bury their own bodies in the back garden of a parallel universe. They then rejoin Summer, Beth and Jerry for dinner only it’s not their Summer, Beth and Jerry. It’s the family of the dead Rick and Morty they just put six feet in the ground and replaced in an alternate universe. Last time I checked, American Dad didn’t have us questioning the fluidity of identity after they killed off the human race with a horrific disease in episode 6.
When Rick and Morty got popular, other creators were inspired to use cartoon as a medium to explore adult themes. Bojack Horseman dropped in August 2014 to tell the story of a middle-aged suicidal horse and a few years later, we were treated to Big Mouth. Rick and Morty transformed the cartoon into the perfect medium to tell extremely dark stories in a light and comical way. Think about how unpalatable Mr Tommy’s story line in season 4 would be if he was played by an actual human actor instructed to have incestuous relations and then eat the babies for show. It just wouldn’t work. Similarly, watching Bojack commit horrendous crimes would be unforgivable if we weren’t able to distance ourselves from the character by interpreting him as a ridiculous cartoon reverse-centaur.
And so, as much as we have reserved a space in our heart for The Simpsons, churning out episode after episode with no real character development or plot progression just doesn’t cut it anymore. Now we have Rick and Morty, we want grown-up cartoons that make us feel things we never thought we could feel about a human-sized jellybean. What’s more, we want it released on Netflix so we can binge-watch it all in one go.