Monday, February 3, 2014

Currently Watching, "Ricky and Morty"

Rick and Morty

People throw the term “guilty pleasure” around a lot these days. They generally use it to refer to low brow entertainment that can be enjoyed despite its apparent flaws. I could apply that definition to aspects of Rick and Morty—the fact that Rick loudly burps up some unpleasant green dribble on a regular basis, that Morty’s voice seems to consist of nothing but adolescent cracks—but there is a more potent, genuine kind of guilt that I’ve been getting used to in the week since I discovered this show.

Amid all the fourth wall nods, the middleclass ennui, and the mind-bending sci-fi nonsense, there are moments that make me laugh even as they make me sick. I don’t know if I have ever seen a show that packs as much dark, disturbing, offensive material in such an entertaining package, and I feel like I might be a bad person for loving it.

I suppose I should expect as much from the conjunction of Cartoon Network’s late night block of stoner comedy and Community creator Dan Harmon, but it still manages to catch me off guard. There have only been six episodes in the first season so far, but already Rick—a sociopathic, alcoholic mad scientist—has exposed his grandson Morty to such traumas as a microscopic theme park that is killing the homeless man in which it was built, an intelligent-dog revolt that equates domestication with slavery, and a disarming fantasy creature who is also a sexual predator (never talk to strangers, or take candy from strangers, or talk to strangers who are made of candy).

Couple all of this with simulated patricide, the burial of their own alternate-reality corpses, and the fact that every time a grotesque monster is killed it’s revealed to have loved ones and a rich inner life, and I suddenly find it hard to justify recommending this show to any decent human being. But, as long as none of them are reading, I might as well admit that the most offensive moments of Rick and Morty are also the moments that make me laugh the most. They achieve so much more than just shock value. Even if you think you’ve outgrown this kind of humor (as I did) the show’s wild swings—between Morty’s earnest anxiety and Rick’s manic amorality, between clever subtlety and disgusting slapstick, careful plotting and ludicrous twists—will leave you feeling surprised, entertained and, yes, a little guilty.

If you want to feel like a bad person with me, you can find Rick and Morty online, or catch it Monday nights at 10:30 on Adult Swim.

-Keith Baldwin

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