The Adult Swim cartoon-for-grownups Rick and Morty returns for a second season on Sunday to continue celebrating the bad behavior of an alcoholic mad scientist (Rick) and his teenage grandson (Morty)—and season two promises to be even more insane than the first. We’ve put together a primer for the uninitiated.
What’s the central premise?
Each episode follows the trials and tribulations of Rick Sanchez, a constantly drunk, too-smart-for-his-own-good scientific genius, and his grandson Morty, the straight man who’s always present for Rick’s dangerous high jinks. In the first season, the two found themselves in some high-stress scenarios, including traveling through a homeless man’s body in a theme park called Anatomy Park and dealing with a hoard of sentient robotic dogs. If the show sounds out there, that’s because it is: there’s nothing like it on television.
What makes it so funny?
The show’s hyperactive, off-the-cuff energy is a special treat, even in an increasingly crowded animated-comedy field where other great shows like Bojack Horseman and Bob’s Burgers compete for eyeballs. For an animated show, the dialogue feels incredibly ad-libbed, particularly the word soup mix of belching, expletives, and insults coming from Rick. Where other shows could take the high-concept shtick too seriously, Rick and Morty constantly winks at its own silliness, and characters acknowledge the absurdity of the situations they’re in at every turn. Plus, watching the psychic toll Rick’s bad behavior has on the pubescent Morty (including one particularly inspired scene where Morty must bury a version of himself from an alternate universe) grounds the show emotionally and ensures the characters’ antics reflect some semblance of reality.
Where does it draw its inspiration from?
Many viewers are likely familiar with series cocreator Dan Harmon, who also created the cult favorite sitcom Community (fans of that show can expect the same level of manic energy from Rick and Morty). He and fellow cocreator Justin Roiland collaborated on an animated short loosely based on the Back to the Future franchise called The Adventures of Doc and Mharti and then loosely based Rick and Morty on it. The show also also draws heavily from the sci-fi weirdness of Futurama and the expanded-universe feel of The Simpsons in concocting its own unique brand of humor.
What can viewers expect from season two?
In an interview with the A.V. Club, Harmon, Roiland, and writer-performer Ryan Ridley threw out a few hints about the new season. Of particular note is a guest appearance by Stephen Colbert, who’ll voice a character that’s as brilliant as Rick, which drives Rick crazy. Fans can also expect the already massive character universe to grow; one episode alone has more characters than all of the first season. Any fans worried that the show’s creative impulses have been tamed shouldn’t worry—the season two premiere plays out in two horizontal panels, with slight variations in the action that lead to wildly different outcomes for the characters.
What’s the all-time best Rick and Morty clip?
That would be a commercial for “Ants In My Eyes” Johnson, of course.