Rick and Morty, the animated sitcom by Community‘s Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, is a masterclass in comedy writing and production. The high-concept ideas and impeccable comic timing only elevate the already wonderful and self-aware storytelling style. No wonder it is one of the most popular Adult Swim series out there. Having said that, the brilliant show has the most toxic fanbase that might just be the show’s undoing someday.
Rick and Morty has an almost Back to the Future-Esque vibe at its core. The show follows the chronicles of a genius yet eccentric scientist Rick Sanchez and his often unwilling grandson and sidekick Morty. Their various mind-bending misadventures through multiple alternate dimensions and realities and several sci-fi parodies are not just hilarious and entertaining, but also incredibly introspective.
Seeing an exponential growth in viewership ever since the first season, the popularity of the show only increased with the release of seasons 2 and 3. So much so that the series became one of the most watched series across platforms. But the flip-side to all this well-deserved success and popularity is an army of entitled and misogynistic devotees that act as the self-proclaimed gatekeepers of the show.
As certified geeks and fans of most things popular, we empathize with getting invested in a show. For a while, the show becomes our world and the characters become a part of us. However, no matter how avid a fan you are, it doesn’t give you any right to hate on the people who dislike the show. Or shame the people who don’t understand the show’s premise. And this is exactly what is wrong with the Rick and Morty army. It went so far that the show saw a major decline in new viewers.
Back in July 2017, a condescending post by an elitist, supposedly superfan of Rick and Morty went viral on Reddit. According to the post, “You have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty.” If this wasn’t enough, the post went on to proclaim, “The humor is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics, most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer’s head.”
The internet is full of hateful gatekeepers of the show that display zero sensitivity and show no restraint in shaming the people who even mildly criticize the show. And it is completely baseless. May we point out The Big Bang Theory, a show loved and appreciated by all despite it being full of scientific quips? It aches to see how a few bad apples have the potential to hamper the growth of such a well-made show.
To add fuel fire, there is a collective on Facebook titled “The Real Ricks” exclusively for devotees of the show who pretend to have a self-proclaimed in-depth understanding of Rick and Morty. They identify themselves as hyper-intelligent beings that have an excuse for bad behavior, not unlike their idol, Rick. Instead of understanding the character’s deep-seated flaws, they revere him blindly and take anything that comes out of his mouth as gospel.
In order to diversify his all-male writer’s room for Rick and Morty, creator Dan Harmon recruited four brilliant women writers. While the contributions of Jane Becker, Sarah Carbiener, Jessica Gao, and Erica Rosbe were paramount, some sexist fans couldn’t handle it. The writers were instantly termed “social justice warriors” and held responsible for some of the supposedly unfunny episodes. From online harassment to even getting their private information leaked online, the women went through a tragic ordeal.
Dan Harmon absolutely loathes this faction of fandom. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Harmon said that these fan groups want “to protect the content they think they own.” They then “somehow combine that with their need to be proud of something they have, which is often only their race or gender.” He defends his co-writers yelling at the misogynistic fans: “You idiots! We all write the show together!”
Rick and Morty may be fun and hysterical, but it touches upon some real-life issues that can be heartbreaking. It is apparent that the show is a humorous commentary by the creator Dan Harmon on his own life struggles. However, toxic fans like these completely misconstrue the ethos behind the show. Moreover, they project their own insecurities on the characters in the most harmful way. They are alienating prospective fans of the show, destroying the very thing they adore.
While we are super excited about Rick and Morty season 6, we are also weary of the copious amounts of new toxicity it will birth in the form of the hateful fanbase. We urge the potential viewers of the show to observe a separation of the series from the abhorrent fans. Watch Rick and Morty streaming on Netflix, and don’t let their hate-fuelled comments discourage you from enjoying the show.