Rick and Morty Season 1 Review

A Refreshingly Dark Twist

Rick and Morty Season 1 Review
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Rick and Morty Season 1

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Over my time as a media critic, I’ve seen my fair share of adult animated comedies over the years. But I have to say, Rick and Morty stands out as one of the most unique, hilarious, and surprisingly poignant shows I’ve come across lately. 

Created by Dan Harmon (of Community fame) and Justin Roiland, Rick and Morty centers around the misadventures of alcoholic mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his nervous wreck of a grandson, Morty. At first glance, the setup seems like a zany sci-fi twist on Back to the Future, with Rick as the Doc Brown stand-in and Morty as Marty McFly. But the show quickly establishes its own bizarre, dark sensibility. 

Rick is essentially a sociopathic genius who drags Morty along on dangerous intergalactic escapades, heedless of the trauma it causes the poor kid. And the places they go are really out there – we’re talking bizarre alien worlds, alternate dimensions, you name it. But the real genius of the show lies in how it grounds these crazy adventures in the family dynamic. 

Underneath Rick’s nihilistic, alcoholic exterior, we get glimpses that he genuinely cares for Morty, even if he expresses it through toxic behaviour. And Morty’s home life is its own dysfunctional mess, with his nervous wreck of a dad, Jerry and emotionally damaged mom, Beth, barely keeping it together. The tension between wanting to go on these insane adventures with Rick and seeing the damage it does to his family provides an emotional core that perfectly balances out the zaniness.

Rick And Morty Season 1 Review

Some of my favourite episodes from Season 1 that really highlight the magic of Rick and Morty include Meeseeks and Destroy, M. Night Shaym-Aliens!, and Rick Potion #9

Meeseeks and Destroy is a classic early on that introduces the bizarre concept of Mr. Meeseeks – creatures summoned to serve a single purpose before vanishing. The lunacy of seeing multiple Mr. Meeseeks trying desperately to fulfill impossible requests is worth the price of admission alone. But beneath the hilarity is a very dark B-plot that dives deep into Rick’s damaged psyche – this episode shows that Rick and Morty fires on all cylinders.

Another standout is M. Night Shaym-Aliens!, a crazy spoof of M. Night Shyamalan movies with Rick and Morty trapped in a simulation by scam aliens. The mind-bending plot alone is brilliant, but getting David Cross to voice the head alien makes it even better. 

Rick And Morty Season 1 Review

And I can’t forget to mention Rick Potion #9, which starts out as a teen movie-style plot about Morty trying to make a girl fall for him but quickly spirals into an apocalyptic wasteland scenario. This episode really shows how Rick’s amoral disregard for consequences can lead to some truly disturbing places – a level of darkness you rarely find in animated shows.

The humour in Rick and Morty stems from a mix of sharp, irreverent writing and fast-paced improvisational delivery. Many of the jokes play on subverting expectations, whether it’s undercutting sci-fi tropes or puncturing Morty’s naive worldview. 

One major source of laughs is Rick’s nihilistic one-liners. As a jaded, alcoholic genius scientist, Rick constantly drops darkly comedic bits of wisdom like “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.” His morbid perspective leads to a never-ending stream of morose zingers that catch the audience off-guard.

Rick And Morty Season 1 Review

Morty’s high-pitched nervous breakdowns also fuel much of the show’s manic energy. Whenever Morty finds himself overwhelmed on their insane adventures, which is often, he descends into gibberish meltdown rants. Justin Roiland’s improv background shines through in these moments as he voices Morty barely keeping it together by descending into nonsensical fragments. The contrast between Morty’s panic and Rick’s nonchalance heightens the comedy.

The improvisational tone, in general, with Roiland voicing both main characters, gives the humour a loose, anything-goes vibe. Jokes fly fast, with little time to recover before the next one hits. The show packs in pop culture references covering movies, TV shows, and games too quickly to catch them all. There are too many to list, but highlights include everything from Terminator to Inception to Doctor Who

By satirizing familiar sci-fi concepts, Rick and Morty puts a clever twist on common tropes. For example, an episode parodying Nightmare on Elm Street sees Freddy Krueger stand-in Scary Terry drop one-liners like “You can run but you can’t hide, bitch!” The more absurd the show’s aliens and scenarios get, the funnier it becomes.

Rick And Morty Season 1 Review

Rick also frequently breaks the fourth wall, directly addressing the audience and commenting on cartoon and sitcom conventions. This meta-humour pokes fun at the idea that Rick knows he’s a fictional character. No target is off limits for Rick and Morty’s uniquely unfiltered brand of comedy.

The humour walks a fine line between clever and crass, but that’s part of what gives the show its unpredictable appeal. By refusing to pull any punches for shock value, Rick and Morty keeps viewers guessing where the next joke will come from. It’s this anything-goes approach that makes the show so relentlessly funny.

Rick and Morty is a breath of fresh air in the adult animated comedy space. It takes the zany sci-fi possibilities of shows like Futurama, combines it with the damaged characters and biting humour of shows like BoJack Horseman, and injects it all with a unique sense of darkness and unpredictability. 

If you’re looking for an animated show that will make you laugh until you cry one minute and leave you staring in disturbed silence the next, Rick and Morty is a must-watch. The first season leaves me excited to see how they top themselves in the years to come. This is one sci-fi animated comedy that aims for the stars and consistently hits the mark.

Final Thoughts

Patrick James
Patrick James

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