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SDCC – ‘Rick and Morty’: The Darkness Within

rick-and-morty-season-2If you let your kids watch Rick and Morty, you are probably a bad parent.

Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Maybe you are working two jobs and you just don’t have time to monitor your kids and their viewing habits.


Regardless, Rick and Morty is not your average cartoon.

After 20 years of shows like Family Guy and South Park, you think we might get used to toons in adult situations. The genius of Rick and Morty is that it’s not occasionally edgy and dark; Like Bane, it lives in the dark.

The second season of time-traveling animated series features mercy killings, murder, alcoholism and attempted suicides. And the occasional fist fight with Einstein.

At Comic-Con, Rick and Morty creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland and writer Ryan Ridley chatted about the dark nature of the show.


Dan: The darkness is funny. It’s the first part of a great joke. I’m always harping about this, but the first time we laugh as kids is the game of Peek-A-Boo, that’s because kids are programmed to experience terror when the mother goes away. In all cultures and all continents, the mother covers her face, which simulates for the kid this terror, it’s death for a baby. But your in on the joke, that’s what makes it comedy.

Comedy isn’t the opposite of tragedy. It’s taking tragedy and saying, yeah, but life goes on.

The ‘Unity’ episode when Rick comes home, and you watch him go into his garage stark raving drunk and he almost kills himself, but fails because he’s so drunk he passes out.

In the series, Rick focuses the sadness and confusion on a little creature he creates, which he uses as an outlet for his feelings by murdering it.

Justin: I tried my best to make that creature feel like a euthanasia kill. I really went back and gave notes on the animation, ‘Make that creature seem like it is in pain. Like, make it feel pain every time you pet it. Make is a mercy kill.’

Ryan: I want to add, that the show didn’t grow into being dark. It was always dark. It’s like, now that we have the baseline of the first season down, we can go deeper and explore and peel back the layers of darkness underneath it. I think season three…more and more just ripped away.

Justin: Yeah. Not a lot of levity.

Ryan: It’s not like we are like, “Oh, we went to dark. We should really go back.”

Dan: That’s what you do when you are not as funny as 30 Rock. That’s what I learned at the studios. Just take that 20% of less-funny-than Tina Fey and fill it with tears.

It wasn’t all dark. The crew also talked about the sort-of improved “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate” episode, which received a TV-MA rating.


Justin: It’s the weirdest in the production pipeline. Half of it is typical production timeline of great script, launch that and go to board, but the other half is going into the booth with these guys…

Ryan: We brought in some random people because we bring in extra writers and all these different writers and they pitch nonsense. And Justin just hits his brain and starts vomiting nonsense.

Justin: Yeah. And the drunker I get, the more…like Octopus Man. We’ll start with he’s half man, half octopus, and I’ll be like, ‘I got it! No more! Are we rolling? I’m Octopus Man, I’m half man, half octopus…Just repeating what was said because I’m drunk. And then I just ramble about the Troublemites, which I don’t know where the fuck that work came from.

The fun of those is that we get to launch them at the storyboard artist, who put their own visual spin on it for the most part.

It’s different.

For future projects (like, let’s say a Community movie…for example), Harmon talked about his dislike of turning to the internet for funds from fans to keep the project alive.

Dan: I kind of feel like there is a crime to crowdsourcing. If Sony wants to participate in any profits, they should be the ones risking it financially. That’s the aspect of crowdsourcing I don’t like. It’s always been an aspect of the internet I don’t like. The movement where Pepsi says, hey guys, name our next soda. I don’t like the free labor aspect.

I like the idea of a passive audience becoming active, but I don’t like it as a corporation gain. If Sony wants to put their rights to Community up for sale, then every who does crowdsource should get a point on the backend.

Rick_and_Morty_S1_E1_Pilot.0.0Rick and Morty airs on Adult Swim

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