The Rick and Morty Livestream: Circle Jerk or Something More?

Sadly, last night’s big Rick and Morty livestream on [Adult Swim] did not include a new episode. That ship sailed with the April Fools Day premier prank. What we did get was Sanchezed (it’s like a Rick Roll but infinitely more sarcastic and cruel). The majority of the two hour event was Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland drinking and play-pretending what it is (kind of) like in the writers’ room when they are working on an episode of Rick and Morty. Artist Erica Hayes helped by creating quick storyboard sketches, while Brandon Johnson hosted and helped keep things moving along.

It wasn’t all tomdickery. There was an announcement of when season three will air, July 30, 2017, and a trailer for the new season:

And… well, that’s it. Sort of.

As a creative, it is always interesting, in a voyeuristic way, to see behind-the-scenes of a work you admire. And if this exhibition was representative of what goes on in the writers’ room, then that’s pretty damned neat. Unfortunately though, the event was more a case for the maxim, “Never meet your heroes.” Roiland and Harmon fumbled around, creating material little better than what a couple six grade boys would when trying to be shocking with their potty humor. For a show that uses—but manages to rise above—simple dick jokes, this was disheartening.

But as I’ve thought about it more in the intervening time, I think I understand what Harmon and Roiland were trying to do by allowing us to see them create such crap.

Creating Rick and Morty is Difficult

Duh, amirite? I mean, we all understand that professionals make it look easy to do, and there is a lot of work that goes into every episode before it’s done, but do we give the creators credit for all that work or do we get self-righteous and impatient? Again, duh!

So, episodes of Rick and Morty may start off as stupid fart jokes but they have to morph and transform repeatedly to become something good. The scenes created last night are those stupid fart jokes, much like the thousands of YouTube videos that have fallen flat on their face because they never rose above the “pull my finger” stage. The episodes of Rick and Morty that air have that “something extra” that has changed them into the great show we love. That takes time, and talent, to create. It doesn’t just happen. And last night’s show painfully proved that.

And that, my friends, is the unmistakable reason why season 3 has taken so long.

Before they got started with the mock writing session, Johnson had them answer questions like: “are Roiland and Harmon fighting?” and “has the show been canceled?” They answered plainly and simply—no and no. But the underlying question—”Why has season 3 taken so long?”—wasn’t really addressed, at least not in a way that would elicit the obvious response, “This stuff is hard. It takes time.” If it had, that answer would have flopped out like a wet fart. Fans do not suffer an honest answer with satisfaction. I know this because the honest answer has been given, and yet still the question persists. (We fans can be a quite unforgiving bunch of bastards, can’t we?) Therefore, instead of saying it again, they showed us, live, what kind of work goes into making Rick and Morty. And it was hard to watch.

No wonder Roiland and Harmon were drinking. They were nervous. Insecurity is the vicious handmaiden that comes with the Muse. The fear of being seen as a phoney, as a hack, is a constant nagging in the back of a creative person’s psyche. To let that out for all to see was incredibly brave of Harmon and Roiland.

So, let me back up for a second and recant what I wrote earlier. On the surface this was just a couple guys fucking off and as a result discouraging. But upon reflection, I am really glad I got to see this side of things. I actually witnessed their struggle. I have to admire Roiland and Harmon all the more for putting themselves out there. And for the incredible show they have produced.

This could have been some BTS (behind-the-scenes) stuff with the trailer and air date slapped on—thirty minutes and done. That would have been okay, but it would have missed addressing the big question. And while they could have answered said question plainly, that’s not Harmon and Roiland’s style. (And like I wrote, they did give an honest answer but no one listened.) This demonstration was so much better because we all know that it’s not what you say, it’s what you do, that matters. And ironically, by failing they absolutely killed it.

Well played, sirs. Well played.

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