Why Adult Swim’s ‘Rick and Morty’ is Disturbing, Yet Brilliant

Rick and Morty - Adult Swim

Rick and Morty | Adult Swim

Adult Swim has often played home to the weirdest shows television has to offer. Typically, they’re far from accessible, difficult to comprehend for the uninitiated, and are buried beneath layers upon layers of meta-humor and self-referential insanity. It’s not meant to be understood by the mainstream, and simply isn’t meant for the average TV viewer. That being so, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s Rick and Morty is something that transcends much of this.

Yes, it’s at times eminently inaccessible, and at its absolute craziest, it borders on outright demented. But all these describers serve to paint a wider picture of what it truly is like inside the mind of twisted comedy genius. Whereshows like Childrens Hospital or The Venture Bros. don’t boast a deeper message past “let’s see just how ‘out there’ we can get on a weekly basis,” Rick and Morty goes further into actually contextualizing its insanity.

Co-creator Dan Harmon’s most successful work to date, Community, demonstrates a clear ability to always bring things back to a humanizing place no matter how weird it gets. Roiland on the other hand specializes in your classic “deeper down the rabbit hole” Adult Swim humor. Together, it’s the perfect combination.

Take for example one of the more popular episodes from season one (that we’ll slightly be spoiling, so don’t read on if you want to watch it first!). In it, Rick, the titular grandpa and resident mad scientist of the show, creates a box that spawns a creature called Mr. Meeseeks. The creature’s goal is to fulfill one task for the person who spawned it, and then it disappears from existence in a puff of smoke. If it’s forced to exist for too long, it slowly goes insane, creating more and more of itself to help complete its task before finally snapping. It’s a concept that has our characters learning self-improvement through a bizarrely twisted method.


It’s episodes like this that define what Rick and Morty is all about: A sci-fi comedy that deals in real, human relationships. Of course the context is with a sociopathic mad scientist (Rick) and his less-than-capable grandson (Morty), along with the suburban drama carried by the rest of Morty’s family. In many ways, it’s quintessential Adult Swim humor. In others, it can at times be the most heartfelt show the programming block has to offer, despite it being delivered in an odd story format.

With the second season having wrapped up, Season 3 is well on its way. For its next round though, Harmon has come out and said it’ll fall even more into the sci-fi realm than ever before.

We’re going to be 10 to 15 percent more galactic this season, and less pure domestic B-stories. For better or for worse, we started to have more fun in the writers’ room when we started talking about … sci-fi stuff. It’s still domestic in a moral or thematic way, though.

It’s that very balance that has had Rick and Morty bordering on comedic brilliance. Oscillating back and forth between crazy metaphysics and domestic, human drama takes a viewer on a journey one wouldn’t expect out of your typical Adult Swim offering.

While you may struggle to get your parents to understand or enjoy it, Rick and Morty is perfectly suited for the audience it aims for. Just be prepared to be shocked, amazed, and just the right amount of horrified.

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