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TV Series Review

Grandfathers are supposed to be wise, genial figures in their grandchildren's lives—perhaps someone who teaches the youngsters how to fish, shares the joy of old movies and, of course, tells interminably long stories.

But not all grandfathers fit that template. Some are less wise and genial and more brilliant and sociopathic.

Take Rick Sanchez, for instance. After having been gone—like, really gone—for a couple of decades, the old man with the blue pointy hair suddenly shows up on daughter Beth's doorstep and moves in. It's obvious to everyone that he's not exactly, um, right, if you know what I mean. But perhaps that's simply a side effect of his adventures—courtesy of a portal-creating gun— through an unfolding and chaotic multiverse.

He's seen things, man.

But nihilistic dystopian adventures are no fun without a little company. While Beth is largely oblivious to Rick's sci-fi shenanigans, her children—high-strung 14-year-old Morty and his rebellious, world weary older sister, Summer—are all too familiar with them. Morty has been a party to pert near every one of Grandpa Rick's misadventures, and Summer is increasingly well traveled herself.

But if travel is supposed to expand one's mind in most case, Rick's interdimensional hopping seems to be imploding on itself.

Rick Rolling the Wrong Way

Rick and Morty has earned, in the words of Wikipedia, "universal acclaim," boasting a 100% positive review score on, well, whatever rating site you'd like to use. Except ours, of course. So Wikipedia will have to amend its take to "near universal acclaim," as we have some nits to pick with Rick and Morty.

This is not to say that the show isn't clever, or well written, or even funny. It can be. But it can also be incredibly bleak and dark and problematic and troubling. And Rick is … how do we put this gently … a big ol' jerk.

It's not my opinion. He's supposed to be a jerk. The show has given Morty's blue-haired grandpa symptoms of pretty much every misanthropic malady and psychotic tic known to humankind.

"Now, listen," he tells Morty and Summer during an all-too-typical heart-to-heart talk, "I know the two of you are very different from each other in a lot of ways, but you have to understand that as far as Grandpa's concerned, you're both pieces of (bleep)! Yeah. I can prove it mathematically."

Crude-y Toons

Grandpa Rick has little regard for family, given that the infinite multiverse contains more family members than he can possibly count. He calls marriage "funerals with cake," and cares not a whit when his daughter, Beth, and her husband, Jerry, split up.

And Rick's bleak worldview permeates the entire show. Even Morty, a more sympathetic character who seems to truly care for those around him, is infected by his grandfather's godless, existential nihilism. "Nobody exists on purpose," Morty tells his sister. "Nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's going to die. Come watch TV."

Sometimes the show hints at something akin to a heart, but let's face it: In terms of its worldview, Rick and Morty is The Simpsons as written by Nietzshe, shortly after he went insane.

But even if Rick and Morty had all the glowing positivity of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the content would still be enough to make it superlatively problematic.

On any given episode, animated characters may have their arms ripped off or their heads smashed in or, perhaps, have their heads smashed in with their own ripped-off arms. Animated blood falls like rain in Seattle. And Rick and Morty's not above showing a little animated skin, either. Or a lot. Or even sexual interludes. In the second episode of season three, which I reviewed, Summer—remember, Morty's live-at-home teen sister—gets into an apparently sexual, cohabitational relationship with a leather-wearing, buttocks-exposing dystopian gangland leader.

The show is rated TV-14, but it really gets that by way of technicality. Some bad language (f-words and s-words, mostly) is bleeped on Cartoon Network's late-night Adult Swim block of programming, but it's pretty obvious from the context what those words are.

I'd like to say it's a shame Rick and Morty didn't throttle back on its content a little—that, if it had done so, the show would be much better. But that would be a lie. This is the sort of show where gratuitous content, shock and nihilism are all a part of the point—a chunk of its "charm," if you will. It's not a series that can be cleaned up with a censoring service or judicious use of a fast-forward button. The real shame is that the show's kinda funny … and that it's still so bad.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

"Rickmancing the Stone"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Voices of Justin Roiland as Rick Sanchez/Morty Smith; Chris Parnell as Jerry Smith; Spencer Grammer as Summer Smith; Sarah Chalke as Beth Smith

Director

Distributor

Network

Cartoon Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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