You’ve probably heard this to the point of homily already, but we’re in the golden (if not PLATINUM) age of television right now. The advent of Netflix, plus the modern glory that has become HBO (we’re talkin’ Game of Thrones, Girls, Curb Your Enthusiasm…), has put us on a constantly ascending rollercoaster of great television. At this point, the only thing left to ask for is more hours in the day to accommodate all our binge-watching (who do we call about that?).
What was once a jumble of cable station acronyms (CBS, ABC, you know the rest) is now the Wild, Wild West of content providers, with services like Amazon Prime, HBO, Stars, and Showtime going head-to-head with classic cable. While we’re stoked about these endless options, personalizing the TV experience today can be expensive—and few among us can afford to buy every option. With so many choices when it comes to shows and providers, how can a mere human brain possibly decide? Though we’ve got soft spots for Netflix and HBO, we’re here to make a case for the old guy (also known as cable)…all because of a little cartoon called Rick and Morty.
For the uninitiated, Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty is the brainchild of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon (who also had a hand in Arrested Development). The show centers on two main characters: Rick Sanchez, who’s said to be the smartest man in the universe despite being a borderline sociopath with a drinking problem, and Morty Smith, Rick’s naïve grandson and involuntary sidekick. The show’s genius centers on its ability to situate its many immature moments opposite dramatic and serious scientific revelations (Rick happens to be a scientist), and the balance of the two makes for some seriously entertaining TV magic. Intrigued yet?
We’re here to give you the beginner’s guide to all things Rick and Morty so you can join the latest and greatest of TV cults. If you aren’t quite sold on the show yet, this four-episode synopsis can, at the very least, be the rationale you need to spend all that hard-earned money on overpriced cable (because the inclusion of the Golf Channel just isn’t cutting it).
S1 Ep 2 – "Lawnmower Dog"
It’s tough to be sold on a show solely through its pilot (ironically), so we think you should start your Rick and Morty binge on the second episode of season 1. In this episode, Morty’s dog, Snuffles, becomes increasingly intelligent through one of Rick’s seemingly useless inventions—and everything begins to spiral off-course. Not only does this episode provide a pretty clear look at how the characters will play out for the rest of the series, but it also introduces one of the show’s best writing traits—the ability to turn really dumb moments into sarcastic yet emotional ones (trust us, it’s fun).
S1 Ep 5 – "Meeseeks and Destroy"
In addition to its bizarre plotlines, R&M is also famous for its strange ancillary characters and quotable lines of dialogue. The fifth episode of season 1 has both of these in hoards, as it centers on Rick’s submissive and increasingly sentient invention called a “Meeseeks.” What starts off as a simple way to solve any problem becomes an existential crisis for everyone involved. Typical.
S2 Ep 8 – "Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate"
As a follow-up to the episode “Interdimensional Cable 1,” this episode takes the viewer on a ride through the stream-of-conscious writing style behind the show. With a vague plot, it showcases Rick and Morty watching a television (which the viewer can also see) that has been rigged to flip between any channel/show, in any galaxy, in any conceivable time period. The result? An absolutely ridiculous series of micro-plots/premises for shows within the episode itself.
S3 Ep 4 – "Vindicators 3: Return of Worldender"
As the most recent episode, we’re pretty convinced this might actually be R&M’s best yet. It has everything you love about the show, introducing some of the most memorable characters of the whole series, while also sprinkling in some entertaining examples of Morty’s wise, existential lessons. We wouldn’t say this is Rick and Morty 101, but if you’re still unconvinced after watching “Vindicators 3,” then you may as well just save a few bucks and cancel cable altogether. Unless you’re actually using it for the Gem Shopping Network or Jewish Life Television, in which case…how did you get here?