Surprise! The guy who co-created a show that features jellybean molestation allegedly sexually harassed women online and awaits trial on more recent domestic violence charges. But before you send your Pickle Rick through the meat grinder, take a deep breath, and try to have some perspective. There’s plenty of sci-fi comedy that isn’t Rick and Morty out there, and I can give you recommendations.
But I understand why fans of the show — a uniquely crass story about guileless kid Morty and his snotty, mad scientist grandfather Rick — are disappointed. Justin Roiland’s allegations make the show (and his video game studio’s recent Game Pass hit, High on Life) seem covered in mud. But they might also provide an opportunity for you to consider what you think art’s relationship to its creator is. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Roiland’s involvement on Rick and Morty has largely been relegated to voicing characters” for years — is that enough distance between creator and creation for you to keep watching your favourite show? Should you avoid consuming any entertainment any unsavoury person has worked on? That’s a personal decision, and for you to decide.
I can’t help you with that. But I can provide alternatives if watching Rick and Morty feels wrong right now. Here — take these goofy show and movie recommendations, which all mirror different covetable aspects of Rick and Morty, like hand-drawn animation, boldly obnoxious humour, and a sci-fi tilt. Any of them should help you turn your brain off with a lime green knife, inserting stoner-friendly fart humour.
Like Rick and Morty, this mostly two-dimensional, hand-drawn cartoon from The Simpsons creator Matthew Groening should appeal to anyone burrowed deep into their couch, in desperate need of spacing out. It focuses on sniveling redhead Philip Fry, who was accidentally cryogenically frozen in the year 2000, woken up in 2999, and tasked with being a cosmic delivery boy. It’s easy to watch, teeming with aliens, and features a one-eyed love interest, if that’s your thing.
Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
The 1988 movie Earth Girls Are Easy has it all — music, stars, and romance. Julien Temple, who’s best known for directing music videos like Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” and “Smooth Operator” by Sade, brings a synth flourish to a silly story about sexy aliens (young Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey, and Jeff Goldblum) with sexy, proboscis-like tongues falling in love with the human girls (Geena Davis) they crash-land on. Good, ol’ ‘80s Laffy Taffy.
Love, Death, and Robots (2019)
Netflix’s animated anthology show Love, Death, and Robots is for Rick and Morty fans who love its fantasy element. Each episode has its own animation style and sensibility, and there’s a lot of genre-hopping around comedy, horror, and sci-fi dystopia. In its first season, one episode, “Ice Age,” features tiny humans who live in a fridge, suspended by live-action animation, while another, “Alternate Histories,” gives Hitler a blueberry-sized head while demonstrating historical consequences of different timelines. It’s a little cerebral, but mostly fun.
South Park (1997)
South Park’s infamous booger humour might sit well with the kind of Rick and Morty fans that harassed McDonald’s over not having enough Rick-themed sauce. It is stupid. One of the protagonists, beanie-wearing Eric Cartman, sounds like his nose is always stuffed with confetti, or with Arizona Iced Tea pop-tops. Still, this Comedy Central cartoon about four boys being annoying in Colorado is generation-defining slacker TV; offensive, but not with enough malice to offend. You’ll feel like you’re in seventh grade again.
One of Elon Musk’s favourite movies (make of that what you will), Spaceballs is a chrome comedy written and directed by Mel Brooks as a Star Wars spoof. It’s filled with lots of funny names, so it’s about the handsome spacefarer Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half-dog companion, literally named Barf (John Candy), and their quest to save Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the planet Spaceball. That’s pretty much it. You can take your edible now.
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Hot Tub Time Machine is a sci-fi comedy about reconnected old friends unwittingly time travelling to their 1986 young adulthoods via hot tub vortex. It’s rife with 2010-isms of the misogynistic guy in glasses variety — former New York City mayor Ed Koch called it “the most disgusting picture I have ever seen” in his review for The Atlantic. But if you like Rick and Morty’s boyish potty mouth humour, well, here’s John Cusack doing it.
Regular Show (2010)
Cartoon Network’s Regular Show is one of the cuter options on this list, a sarcastic, but hardly ever ill-mannered cartoon about lazy 23-year-olds Mordecai and Rigby. It’s often surreal — Mordecai is a blue jay, Rigby is a short and stout raccoon, their eternally pissed boss Benson is a gumball machine — but, otherwise, it’s a laid-back slice-of-life. Watching it is like sipping lemonade really slowly.
The Midnight Gospel (2020)
The Midnight Gospel was co-created by Adventure Time’s Pendleton Ward, so its animation is often ooey, gooey rainbow. It’s about the antibiotics-pink space podcaster Clancy Gilroy and the strange space creatures he interviews on distant planets. Like Rick and Morty, The Midnight Gospel delights itself in flying close to the sun, setting its protagonists on cataclysmic adventures, and making you kinda do a little snort to yourself when something’s funny.
What are your favourite shows and movies like Rick and Morty?
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