Rick and Morty : Gon’ Give it to Ya
Every once in a while, you come across a show that’s prepossessing, stimulating, and sensational all at once. Add to this an ounce of immature innuendos and quirky intergalactic weapons, and lubba dub-dub! You’ve got yourself one of the cheekiest sci-fi sitcoms of our generation.
A favourite amongst most pseudo-intellectuals, this show chronicles the exploits of a delinquent, sociopathic scientist, Rick Sanchez and his sweet righteous grandson, Morty.
So listen up, ya lil’ glip-glops : we’re going to explore the science, the underpinning philosophy weaved so skillfully by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland into the multi-layered fabric that is this magnificent show. Basically what we missed while we chuckled at the fart jokes and astrophysics puns.
The fundamental plot of the show has been inspired from “Back to the Future”, except the dysfunctional pair travels through alternate dimensions rather than time.
The show goes well past parodying/subverting a trope— on multiple occasions, it has paid tribute to a wide spectrum of sci-fi masterpieces and pioneers of cosmic thrillers. Not sure whether you caught all the references? Don’t even trip dawg, we’ve got you covered.
For instance, their home planet, C-137 or the Cronenberg world is a reference to Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg. He was one of the originators of the ‘body horror’ genre, primarily dealing in phobias of bodily transformation, mutation and infection.
The “Lawnmower Dog” episode also bears a reference to Freddy Kreuger, a character from A Nightmare on Elm Street. There’s also the ingenious inclusion of ‘Scary Terry’, an 80s horror beast of sorts with miniature knives in place of fingers.
The show is well-equipped with cultural references to everything from Ghostbusters to Garfield. Coach Nosferatu from the Harry Herpson High School is, in fact, named after the mythical vampire Nosferatu from the 1922 film: A Symphony of Horrors.
With expertly procured intergalactic weapons, Rick has the power to restore absolute peace in the universe. However, he opts to sell an antimatter gun to Krombopulos Michael, an alien assassin to afford an afternoon at a video arcade.
When they’re not playing sass-lords, Rick and Morty explore deep philosophical questions by imagining what lies in the fathomless trenches of space.
An especially profound theme explored by this show is cosmic horror. The omnipresent fear of the unknown, terror of that which is beyond our comprehension. This genre was founded by H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the cosmic entity Cthulhu that makes a fleeting appearance in the show’s opening scene. Transcending cheap jump-starts and anxious gasps, cosmic horror is a scintillating fear of uncharted territory, that instills a sense of dread, disgust and fright simultaneously. And t-that’s the wayyyyyy the news goes!
While most of the shows are based on Rick and his clan cascading the space-time fabric and engorging upon other dimensions, some shows depict the unknown approaching us. As in the episode Get Schwifty, a massive extra-terrestrial head appears with musical demands for an Interstellar song fixture. His sheer gravitational mass causes mayhem on the Earth, resulting in the formation of a new religion, because of course that’s what humans would opt for. Why trust in science when you can hit the sack, Jack!
Beyond their hilariously invigorating plots lies a soul-jarring discordance that brings us to wonder, is the human race even relevant? Are our thoughts even our own? Well, the answer to that is no. In the episode “Total Rickall”, you may notice something similar to Inception is carried out where alien species are able to plant memories in people’s minds. But how does this explain Mr. Poopy Butthole’s presence? Towards the end of the episode, Mr. Poopy Butthole’s apology for not having given any member of the family any bad memories not only questions humans’ need to nitpick and find a reason to complain but also explores the theme of trust, to scratch the surface.
But above all, Rick and Morty is a science cartoon and many intricate theories are woven into the show. For example, in quantum physics lies a theory called the ‘multiverse’ or ‘many worlds’ theory that explores the concept of well, many worlds (parallel universes in this case) that arise out of superposition and quantum interactions. B-but w-what does that m-mean Rick? Basically it means that the entire Schrödinger’s cat experiment? Fake. Coming to the most obvious and recurring theme on the show, alternate realities, the entire planet full of Ricks and Mortys across all timelines is in fact, a real scientific possibility. In a “Rickle in Time”, the sibling rivalry between Morty and Summer creates a feedback loop of uncertainty that splits reality into two equally possible impossibilities. Rick then proceeds to show the siblings the result of fracturing time— outside is a black void abounding in Schrodinger’s cats. Just like the cats, their existence is both real and hypothetical. Talk about being metaphysical. This episode also features Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as Fourth Dimensional testicle monsters.
Weaving through the one of the toughest concepts known to man— travelling across dimensions while not disturbing the space time continuum, has got to be one of the biggest aspects this show has ever pulled off. Even if they haven’t stuck to scientific accuracies at some points, who cares I don’t give a fuuuuuurgh.
A lot more can be discussed with regard to the philosophical outlooks on life that Rick and Morty proposes multiple times through each well thought out, random as hell, weirdly cool, dark and hilarious episode. But for now, it would do well to remember that nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everyone’s going to die.
Writers : Nethraa Kannan, Ananya Roy