The subject of todays matter is non other than the television program, Rick & Morty and why it formed such an unlikely popularity and following. From the outside we see a colourful explosion of cartoon comedy but take another look and the actuality of Rick & Morty may appear to be a lot more sinister.
Each 22-minute story is plotted using the principles of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, but shot through a world-weary humour. In just 11 episodes, the show amassed a sizeable cult following of devotees, with nine million people watching the show’s first season. Among them, Matt Groening, who had the creators Roiland and Harmon create a Rick and Morty couch gag to introduce the season finale of ‘The Simpsons‘.
Here’s some background…this programs infamous journey began in 2013 with season one. Rick, a sociopathic scientist rocks up to his daughter’s house uninvited after being missing for 20 years. Beth, his daughter, welcomes him in but her husband Jerry is apposed to the family reunion. Rick forces a wedge between the couple, intentionally? Yes, most definitely because he wants to be the ultimate patriarchy of the household. Although, the best thing to come out of Rick return is his relationship with his grandson, Morty. If you are yet to make the connection, Rick and Morty’s relationship is very similar to the relationship of Doc Brown and Marty McFly from the ‘Back to the Future‘ (1985) franchise but for any fan of the program the real inspiration was from creator Justin Roiland’s earlier work, specifically in 2006. Roiland created an amateurishly animated series of shorts titled, ‘The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti’ for Channel 101 which would later become Rick & Morty. Though ultimately, non of this explains why exactly Rick & Morty have such a large cult following today…
Topic one of Rick & Morty’s cult following: On April 1st, 2017, in the first episode of the third season, Rick, in a dream sequence goes to a McDonald’s within his memory to experience the taste of the Szechuan Sauce for one last time. This sauce was a promotion to coincide with the upcoming Disney film Mulan (1998), McDonald’s released a new limited-time condiment, the Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce. After promotion for the film the sauce was discontinued and taken off the menu. After the episodes release fans of the show took to Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites to demand that McDonald’s reintroduce Szechuan Sauce to their menu. Some fans have predicted that the sauce will make a return when the new, live action Mulan movie releases in 2020…. On October 1st, 2017, McDonald’s confirmed in a Twitter post that the Szechuan Sauce would be returning for a single day in U.S. restaurants, on October 7th, 2017 due to the absurdly high demand. To the dismay of ‘billions and billions served’, the restaurants distributed roughly 20 Szechuan sauce packets at select restaurants. Predictably, scalpers stood in line for hours just so they could obtain the extremely rare sauce and sell it for hundreds of dollars on eBay, leaving many disappointed while some packets even appeared on bidding sites for $995 (£712.)
Many took to corporate in search for an answer, overwhelming the phone lines and resulting in hundreds being turned away with no response. To make up for the fail, McDonald’s announced that it would be dishing out 20 million packets of the Szechuan sauce at locations across the United States that Monday. However, it seems this second attempt at satiating Rick & Morty super-fans did not go quite as planned. At one McDonalds restaurant in Los Angeles, a man was stabbed in the middle of a long line during the distribution of it. How on earth can a community of superfans lead to this mass disturbance over a packet of sauce?! The crowds of people were apparently chanting ‘Pickle Rick’ but thats a whole other story! Ultimately, Szechuan gate proves how incredibly crazed fans are of this show but I have more…
Topic two of Rick & Morty’s cult following addresses the popular image of Pickle Rick. In the cartoon’s third season, Rick turns himself into an anthropomorphic pickle – just because he can but also because he wants to avoid family therapy. All one needs to do it type ‘Pickle Rick’ into a search engine and a swarm of merchandise, videos, memes and fandom pages floods the screen. RICKIPEDIA was one of my personal favourites… but I sense a reoccurrence of Szechuan gate in 2020. In 2017 the echoes of ‘I’m Pickle Rick!’ thundered around the globe as fans’ obsessions grew and grew. Now, in 2020 the show is paying tribute to the classic episode in a new partnership with Pringles! Pringles is teaming up with Adult Swim’s award-winning show to release Pickle Rick-flavoured crisps. For those thinking it’ll just be your standard pickled onion flavour, don’t be fooled – this will specifically taste like Pickle Rick… apparently. Who knew three years after the episodes release Pickle Rick would still be a frontrunner in the pop culture community, unfortunately for me this Pringles partnership is only being released in the US so hopefully I wont get stabbed waiting in line for some Rick & Morty merchandise.
Now, in saying all of this I am in no way against Rick & Morty… it is actually by far my favourite tv show because I watch it everyday, I have a water bottle covered in catchphrases including ‘I’m Pickle Rick‘ and a phone case that features the to main characters…oh and a t-shirt and a bed spread! I’m as bad as all those people waiting in line for the Szechuan sauce but ultimately I posted this blog post to answer the question of how popular this show is and try to share how crazy its fans are! I’d be happy to continue this blog post discussing the show and why its so popular in the realm of cinema rather than reality so please leave a comment or like this for more Rick & Morty related posts.
To be continued…..
Remember I post Blog posts/discussions every Sunday so stay tuned!