It was recently announced that Adult Swim’s wildly popular show Rick and Morty has received a whopping 70-episode order from the network. Where should we begin?
— Rick (((and Morty))) (@RickandMorty) May 10, 2018
Rick and Morty To Return With 70 Episode Order
Rick and Morty is an unstoppable pop culture reference factory and features brilliant storylines, crisp animation, a digestible format, and a host of zany characters. The show certainly has its moments and rarely fails to deliver on the wacky premises of every episode. But 70 episodes is a lot. With the current ten-episode season format, this means an estimated seven more seasons for a total of ten seasons of Rick and Morty, which seems to be a terrible, terrible mistake for Adult Swim.
The Toxic Fanbase
This article is about to get spectacularly unpopular, but I will begin with the disclaimer that I consider myself a fan of the show. I have watched the show religiously since its first episode aired, but I abhor and condemn the behavior of the majority of this fanbase.
If you enter any AskReddit thread with any title close to “What fanbase ruined the franchise for you” (and these show up every two weeks, so just wait), you will see Rick and Morty featured prominently atop the most-hated list with hundreds of replies either vehemently supporting this idea or wishing death upon the original commenter. Fans consistently and aggressively question the intelligence of anyone that does not pledge their undying love for Rick and Morty, so much so that it turned into a viral meme.
Fans of the show rioted at McDonald’s restaurants when they revived the Szechuan Sauce referenced in the first episode of the third season. For the people in the back, fans rioted over the lack of availability of a Chicken McNugget dipping sauce. To make matters worse, these fans went mad when Dan Harmon, the show’s creator, added women to the writers’ room ahead of season three. They doxxed the female writers when they allegedly saw a decrease in the quality of the writing. Harmon came out and publicly denounced the show’s fans for their behavior.
Are these the people Adult Swim is trying to appease with a 70 episode order? Are they afraid that their headquarters will be crushed beneath the wave of Mr. Meseeks-shirt-clad youngsters screeching “Wub-a-lub-a-dub-dub?” I understand that Adult Swim has a business to run and money has to be made via viewership, but at what cost?
The Tireless Waiting
The show debuted in 2013. Three seasons have been published so far. In five years, we received three seasons of Rick and Morty. Harmon tried to explain the massive delay on season three during an interview with IndieWire:
“I don’t have a release date for Season 3. It’s not that I know it and I’m not allowed to say it; it’s [Adult Swim’s] domain. What I will tell you is it’s late because of us, it’s late because of me…‘Rick and Morty’ keeps taking longer and longer to write, and I don’t know why.”
When it was announced that seasons of Game of Thrones would begin coming out every other year, fans were frustrated, but understanding. Every episode of Game of Thrones is a visual and narrative masterpiece with nary a hair out of place. The guys over at South Park are churning out animated episodes of the same length and of comparable quality with immediate cultural relevance in a week. Harmon and Justin Roiland have failed to demonstrate that they can produce content in a timely manner, and now Adult Swim wants them to create 70 episodes of the show with no timeline released to the public. When the series finale airs in 2039, put me down as a “Maybe” for the watch party.
Value In Limits
Is anyone still sitting down to watch new episodes of The Simpsons or Family Guy every week? How many adult animation shows retain their audiences once the novelty of the premise wears off? At some point in every show, there comes a season that marks the rapid decline in quality and results in hemorrhaging viewers. There is no indication that Rick and Morty is anywhere near that decline in quality, but if the writers are already struggling to produce new content, is 70 really a sustainable number? The show already relies on a sketch-show style episode to fill a slot every season. There is value in rarity. There is a reason that the phrase “quality over quantity” is spoken more often than its inverted counterpart.
The Social Climate
There has been a rising trend in pop culture idolizing the anti-hero: Deadpool, BoJack Horseman, everyone except Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, John Wick, Rick Sanchez. Is this healthy for a country going through an existential crisis? I will let the slew of graduate-level think-pieces on this topic speak for themselves over the next two to six years.
The country is also in the midst of a movement addressing the rampant sexual assault, sexual harassment, and misogyny that has been plaguing the entertainment industry. Dan Harmon is guilty of the patterns of abuse that have shut down careers of far more powerful men in Hollywood over the last year or so. To his credit, Harmon has been working to rectify his wrongs, but like many apologists in 2018, it seems like too little too late. Justin Roiland’s early work features graphic sexual violence that has made itself a part of Rick and Morty as well.
The misogyny of Rick and Morty runs wild from episode to episode, portraying women as cruel monsters willing and able to ruin the lives of the men with which they associate. Given that the country is undergoing a struggle with sexual crimes and general mistreatment toward women, throwing money and opportunity at Harmon and Roiland to continue producing media that subverts the current progressive movement seems extremely tone deaf.
Last Word On “Rick and Morty”
Do not take this article as a call for Rick and Morty to come off the air. This is merely an objective look at the outrageous situation currently surrounding the show. Given that many other shows that have avoided the issues addressed above are being or have been canceled recently, a 70-episode order seems to be nothing more than an aggressive money grab by Adult Swim in order to generate buzz about a show that likely rakes in more merchandising revenue than any other in Adult Swim’s lineup. Rick and Morty could easily have followed the same wait-and-see order patterns as any of its contemporaries and still maintained the same success it enjoyed over the last five years. All in all, this is a bad look for Adult Swim.
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