By: Cal Parsons
After just finishing Season 2 of Rick and Morty, I have been impatiently waiting for a Season 3 release, but in the meantime, I’ve had time to rewatch some episodes of the show and dwell on what the show touches on. The show is extremely funny, but is also full of complex themes like identity, discrimination, subordination, and the dangers of science. I’m going to look at a theme that I’ve recently picked up on from the show, which is the theme of father-son relationships. The relationships between Rick and Jerry and between Jerry and Morty, specifically, are ones that play on the more toxic and uninvolved roles a father plays in their sons’ lives.
The father-in-law-son-in-law relationship between Rick and Jerry is a toxic and hateful relationship. Rick takes every chance he gets to put Jerry down emotionally and sometimes extremely physically, going lengths to mutilate his body or even send him to a daycare full of Jerry’s from multiple dimensions (this show goes all out in the science department, and I mean ALL OUT). Rick detests Jerry, and Jerry despises Rick. Rick hates that Jerry is married to his daughter, because Jerry is a boring dad and lives the most stereotypical suburban dad life possible. Rick is even quoted as saying that Jerry is just a sheep that has no original thought in his brain. Jerry hates that Rick takes Morty out on all these ridiculous adventures and risking their lives and ruining their house all the time. And Jerry is constantly being bullied by Rick, so I guess that’s another reason to have toxic thoughts towards him.
Jerry and Morty’s relationship depicts another type of “bad parenting” stereotype: the uninvolved, uninspiring dad that tries to help his son but is constantly put back either due to annoyance or complete ignorance. Jerry tries, sometimes, to be a good parent to his kids, Morty and Summer, but he ends up failing due to his incompetence and the kids’ toxic behavior towards him.Summer and Morty barely give Jerry the time of day and act like they don’t have time to worry about dealing with Jerry’s meandering about the house. One episode, Jerry attempts to help Morty with a science project even though Rick would give him the easiest A possible only because he was adamant about helping Morty with something and being that stereotypical dad that helps his son with a science project. He ends up insisting that Pluto is a planet, and, due to this ignorance, gets them caught up in a celebrity stunt in Pluto.
The shortcomings of Jerry as a father show in most of Morty’s character, since Morty is a sympathetic, unintelligent boy that doesn’t seem to get the big picture about his and Rick’s situations sometimes, even when their lives are at stake. Morty is merely a shield used by Rick when they travel through space and time since his lack of intelligence somehow masks Rick’s genius from Galactic Confederations that are hunting Rick down. Sometimes Morty, just like Jerry, will have shining moments that allow them to carry the rest of the story onward by pulling miraculous stunts to save themselves and their family, mostly from a crazy amount of luck.
The hate-hate relationship between Rick and Jerry is one that will never cease to entertain audiences but it could also be seen as an interesting take on the kind of toxic behavior father-in-laws have towards their son-in-laws, and vice versa. And when Beth, Jerry’s wife and Rick’s daughter, starts to interfere, it seems to only make things worse between them. Jerry and Morty’s relationship is just as interesting, showing how an incompetent and unwise father can have serious consequences on how his children develop themselves, making them seem less in control of themselves and their environment and more susceptible to peer pressure and outsider opinions.
Here’s an interesting review of the finale of season two and how the main characters have developed over the season.