I recently got caught up on Rick & Morty, and despite being enthralled by every second of the show and realizing it’s maybe one of the great works of American TV, I also feel uncomfortable watching it. It’s incredibly bleak, for one thing; the essential meaninglessness of… everything is always the pole star the show comes back to to.

Plus, this angle proposed by this piece — that there’s a dysfunctional, entitled male core to the show — definitely resonates with me. I.e., I would be really scared to meet anyone who loves the show without reservation.

If you’ve been wondering why Jordan B. Peterson, the Canadian professor, guru of modern masculinity, and author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, has been selling so many books and filling so many theaters, this is why. Rick and Morty is why. It’s no surprise, really, that a small and well-documented subset of the Rick and Morty fan base exhibits terrible, snickering, alienated-white-male troll behavior. The female writers who were hired for the show’s third season were infamously harassed and abused by this mob. “I loathe these people,” co-creator Harmon commented at the time. “It fucking sucks.” But it makes sense: Rick Sanchez himself is a time-troll, a transgressive brain, an avatar of barbed aloneness and free-floating male scorn.


18 thoughts on “I recently got caught up on Rick & Morty, and despite being enthralled by every second of the show and realizing…

  1. I never thought of it as “male” scorn… more like the scorn of someone who has spent all of his time learning everything to find out that none of it matters and the world is full of idiots… and thus his entire life has become a waste and he doesn’t want to admit it.

    But then again, different people have different takes on things and see different meanings to everything (see Religion for an example).

  2. Oh I think that’s very much the attitude of these asshole boys. They actually think they’ve taken the time to learn everything and believe the world is full of idiots.

    I’ve never seen an episode of this show but literally everything I’ve ever read about it skeeves me out. But then Mark Delsing loves it and I know he likes good things, and it’s okay to like problematic things, so I dunno.

  3. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loving the show without reservation (it’s dark and nihilistic but so is a lot of the horror that I enjoy), but anyone who thinks Rick is admirable goes in the same box as people who think Walter White is admirable.

  4. Paul Beakley There are many shows out there that are popular that are full of people I can’t stand as people (Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, etc) , so yeah. Every character in Rick & Morty is effed up in so many ways and none of them should be revered… but the underlying message in the show is incredibly well written and deep, and sometimes it catches you by surprise when you realize it after all the animated chaos (i.e. the Pickle Rick episode).

    As a few episodes have shown, however, it’s not just Rick… Beth suffers from the same disgust with humanity as she comes to the realization that her relationship with Jerry was her attempt at trying to be “normal” to fit in and that she’s really more of a sociopath like her father. That’s why I took it more as “I’m smarter than humanity” rather than “I’m a guy so I’m better than you.”

    But then again… that’s just me. People see what they want to see and get out of things what they want to get. (shrug)

  5. Bret Gillan That what I’m getting at, i.e., an uncritical love, i.e., you just think the hijinks and gore are awesome and don’t acknowledge what’s beneath the surface.

    Paul Beakley I think the show is worth a look if you’re at all curious or enjoy Harmon’s other stuff. The first two seasons felt less nihilistic than the third, which seems to double-down on the pointlessness of it all.

  6. Emily Vitori Aside: I’m really hoping the clone thing turns out to be true, because I would really like see the show spend some time with Beth and her issues, and that would be a great way to explore them, I think.

    Aside to the aside: there is something very male (and privileged, and white) to me about the perspective of the show, but like you said, that’s me, so I dunno.

  7. I couldn’t get through the first episode because of how repulsive Rick is. But then I also couldn’t watch Breaking Bad or even Sons of Anarchy. Too many asshole dude “protagonists.” Like, sure, there’s a place for shows with dislikable, obviously scummy main characters. But I feel like there’s a lot of those out there now, going all the way back to people’s infatuation with The Sopranos.

  8. Curt Thompson The Star Wars fandom has turned into a bunch of toxic douchebags online, but eff them, I was probably a fan before most of them were born, so I’m not going to let the behavior of assholes turn me away from something that I enjoy. Like they used to say in the 90s, “Don’t let the terrorists win.”

  9. Christian Griffen I didn’t watch the episodes in order originally. If I did I would have stopped after the first episode as well. To me that episode is way off from the feel of the rest. Not assuming you’d like it as we likely have different reasons we disliked it.