Solar Opposites Is What Rick And Morty Fans Want: More Rick And Morty, Basically
Justin Roiland's new streaming show on Hulu will delight Rick and Morty fans.
More than not getting to try any of that Szechuan sauce, Rick and Morty fans have long had one frustration in common: the fact that it takes ages for new Rick and Morty episodes to come out. Series co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have gone on record about their disagreements and lengthy iteration process many times, and even said last year that the long delays between Rick and Morty seasons are a thing of the past. And yet, they weren't even able to get Season 4 done in time last year; only half a season aired in 2019, with the back five episodes currently arriving weekly, six months later.
It's a relatable problem: Rick and Morty fans want more Rick and Morty! Rick and Morty is so good that no amount of it will ever be enough. There's no easy solution to that problem--until now. Look no further than Solar Opposites, the new show by Roiland and Rick and Morty writer and producer Mike McMahan.
The simplest way to describe Solar Opposites is an interdimensional cable gag that accidentally stretched into eight full episodes--like the rest of the Rick and Morty crew went home and forgot to turn off the recording booth, and Roiland, drunk, just kept riffing until he'd improvised a whole new world. The show follows an alien family that crash-landed on Earth after an asteroid hit their home planet, Shlorp. Roiland voices Korvo, the default patriarch obsessed with repairing their spaceship and getting off this "already overpopulated" rock; Thomas Middleditch is Terry, his dumb, fun-loving partner; the kids (in this case, "replicants") are Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack); lastly, there's The Pupa, a mischievous bug-eyed slug that will one day mature and devour everything on Earth, terraforming it in the image of Shlorp.
Korvo isn't exactly like Rick, but the two characters have a lot in common. They're both curmudgeonly, adoring of science, disdainful of humanity, and detached from many Earthly concerns. Roiland voices both, and his signature tipsy cadence--stumbling deliberately through dialogue like he's forgotten the words halfway through--will feel warmly familiar to existing fans. Like Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites is full of high-concept sci-fi nonsense, from the stressed out, raisin-like creatures that leap from the aliens' pores instead of sweat, to sneakers that let you go back in time, but you're effectively a ghost and can't touch anything, unless you bring the Retouch-Your-Stuff-Alyzer, an advanced gadget that coincidentally resembles a spork strapped to a stick. Solar Opposites is clearly less improvised than Rick and Morty, but many of its gags retain that hacked-together feel; as if when hunting for sci-fi terms and gadgets, the writers simply throw random syllables and concepts together and run with whatever sounds funniest.
Structurally, Solar Opposites is a much more traditional sitcom. Each episode sees an A-plot involving Korvo and Terry, such as Korvo's repeated, pointless attempts to get Terry interested in repairing their ship, or the one where Korvo gets really into performance magic and winds up jumping into a black hole, or the time Korvo finds out that TV shows aren't real and Terry convinces him to recreate their favorite ALF-like sitcom alien as a Frankenstein-esque monster that eventually Cronenbergs out (naturally) and destroys half the town. Meanwhile, the kids get up to their own hijinks, like trying to fit in with the cool kids at school by entrancing them using spores emitted from strange flowers growing on their heads, or constantly shrink-raying anyone and everyone who even slightly annoys them and depositing them into a wall-sized habitat in their room.
That environment--The Wall--provides one of the season's throughlines, as the tiny people trapped inside, including characters voiced by Andy Daly, Christina Hendricks, and Alfred Molina, go through their own Mad Max-esque journey in a functioning but dictatorial society with an economy built mainly on the candy and chunks of Slim Jims that Yumyulack and Jesse bestow on them. Meanwhile, The Pupa has its own crazy adventures, usually after it wanders off and, say, gets sold into an elite cabal's menagerie of rare Disney animals, or entrances an elderly neighbor into opening the child-proof kitchen cabinet it can't reach itself.
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The thing that really makes Solar Opposites work is its surprising brutality. Rick and Morty fans know that it doesn't pull any punches; as funny as it is, it's also dark and violent and doesn't shy away from mind-bending reveals and soul-crushing questions. In that way, especially, Solar Opposites and Rick and Morty are the same. Korvo and his brood are not ALF or E.T., and this is not Third Rock from the Sun, in which a family of stranded aliens tried their best to empathize and blend in with humanity. Many Solar Opposites episodes borrow classic alien invasion conceits for dark humor, like when Yumyulack and Jesse kidnap a classmate, shrink her down, and lobotomize her by pouring soda over her brain, or when Korvo and Terry dump nanomachines in the town's water supply and then harvest them back from their neighbors' pee in order to spy on their memories and find out why nobody likes them. The aliens may appreciate human pop culture to varying degrees, but at the end of the day, they have little regard for human life, with always hilarious repercussions.
Rick and Morty Season 4 is almost over. The season's second half has been stronger than its first so far, but it's clearly a difficult show to make, and despite any and all reassurances, it's safe to assume there will be more delays in its future. For now, that's fine, because there are eight episodes of Solar Opposites streaming on Hulu for you to watch whenever you feel like having more Rick and Morty-esque madness in your life.
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