If there’s one thing you can’t accuse Justin Roiland of being, it’s conservative. Rick and Morty — his little animated show that could — has never been one to shy away from the controversial, the macabre or the downright weird.
From , to depression and suicide, planet-wide orgies and , the fact that we’re never quite sure what we’re going to get is one of the things we love about the show.
With all they’ve done so far — and — you’d think there’s little that show creators Roiland and Dan Harmon would shy away from. You’d be wrong.
What We Don’t See On Rick and Morty
Speaking to Collider in a recent interview, Roiland and Harmon discussed how much of an impact the Broadcast Standards and Practices have upon Rick and Morty. As you might expect from a show hosted on Adult Swim, intervention is minimal, but it does happen.
In the case of Rick and Morty the changes are usually minor and cosmetic. Harmon gives the example of showing an alien getting “his brain blown out”, and having to change the color of the brain matter from pink to green, in order to not draw illusions to “real brains”.
Taking two steps away from reality seemingly allows much more freedom when it comes to violence, just like Morty shooting the “robots” (that totally weren’t robots) in the pilot episode.
The Shit And Sex Stuff
As is usually the case with mainstream TV, it’s not portraying violence that is the problem. Rather it comes down to what Roiland describes as “the shit and the sex stuff”.
Roiland: “The shit and the sex stuff. That tends to be the thing they put their foot down on. Violence seems to be less and less an issue. Obviously gratuitous violence can be a problem but the sex stuff is real touchy. I think that’s just our country. It’s just the way things are. It’s stupid.”
Rick and Morty tends to handle the “sex” stuff in a similar way as it approaches violence — by keeping it surreal enough that there’s plenty of wiggle room. Remember the “plumbus”, and King Jellybean?
Take for example “Auto Erotic Assimilation”, which ostensibly featured a planet-wide orgy featuring a hang glider, a crotchless uncle sam costume, naked redheads and men resembling Rick’s father.
We never saw anything explicit in the episode, rather we heard a list of Rick’s outlandish requests, such as asking Unity if she could assimilate a giraffe. Too fantastical to be true, Rick and Morty avoids the censoring problem by going all the way. Go big or go home.
The exception to this is the Season 1 , in which Morty convinces Rick to purchase him a “sex robot” — Gwendoline — who turns out to be an incubator unit capable of producing a child. According to Roiland, this is the episode that they had the most trouble pushing through to production.
Roiland: “The big one that I can recall and cite specifically is the sex robot episode with Morty. And that was just more of a fundamental issue. Are we ok with a 14 year old character basically fucking a robot sex doll? [Mike] Lazzo had to push and fight for that for us to get that. That would have been a structural, fundamental… if they wouldn’t have agreed to let us do that, that episode could not have been written or at least that story.”
Again nothing explicit is shown, and the sex doll only features minimally in the episode. It’s used as a plot device to usher in the core of the episode’s narrative — Morty attempting to raise a half-Gazorpazorp child with murderous tendencies.
According to Harmon, the main issue with “Raising Gazorpazorp” was establishing that the sex doll was just that: An inanimate piece of equipment, not a flesh and blood partner. Apparently, portraying teenagers on TV as having sex is a big no-no, whilst you can get away with using an alien sex robot as it falls under the umbrella of non-explicit masturbation.
As Harmon and Roiland said:
Harmon: “I just think it’s a matter of just making sure this robot is a sex doll, is the equivalent of masturbation. Which if anybody wants to convince us that 14 year old boys aren’t masturbating…” Roiland: “I’ll see you in court.”
What’s your favorite Rick and Morty episode? Tell us in the comments below!
MP Staff Writer, thinking too much about comic books since 1992. Tweet me your favorite superheros @katgrngr