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Do We Need To Rescue the Rick and Morty Writers from an Existential Decline? S6E7

Rick and Morty AI generated art from Mid Journey
Rick and Morty AI generated art from Mid Journey

I like Rick and Morty, nay, I love Rick and Morty. I was there from the beginning defending my love of a cartoon to all and sundry. I was there for Gazorpazorps, the episode where Rick impregnates a planet, and Mulan Szechuan Sauce. Although I'm not in America, I never hoped to try the sauce myself. Not that I would have bothered even if I was located in a more tv-show themed, sauce-orientated country. Everything about Rick and Morty has always been weird. But it is the closest I've come to finding another Futurama. A show packed to the hilt with clever references that rewarded anyone who was paying attention.

I'm a Rick and Morty Fan, which makes me its primary source of criticism. On that note, the writers of Rick and Morty, by and large, do a great job, the show is fantastic, and even on its worst day, it's one of the best shows streaming.

Rick and Morty Season 6 Episode 7 feels like a self-indulgent gag designed to assuage the ego of the writers.

Warning: Spoilers abound.


Unpacking Full Meta JackRick From the POV of A Writer

The writers of Rick and Morty appear to be unmotivated to come up with a plotline that doesn't take place outside of the walls of their writers' room. I didn't love the train episode. Even on re-watch, it was overly self-indulgent and kind of boring, but while watching season 6, episode 7 of Rick and Morty, all I could think was, "Who is this for? Is it for other writers? Why?"

I am a writer. I got the jokes and references, I didn't laugh at them, but a few were interesting enough to make me go, "huh." It could have been fun if the references had flown under the radar instead of BEING the radar. If there were little nods to the complicated writing process rather than the whole narrative being about the writing process.

Stories About Writing and Writers—The Last Frontier That's Behind You

Watching Full Meta JackRick felt like watching Shrek, where there was nothing for the kids, no plot, no arc, no interest, but instead an endless stream of in-jokes, winks, and nudges at all the adults in the audience. Anyone with an interest in story structures, tropes, and writing, in general, got the bad jokes and puns but were bored silly by the leaden touch. Instead of watching the show, I fell into playing, 'I got the writing reference! Bingo.' Making me feel smug and superior and oh-so-clever. Anyone whose eyes go cloudy with boredom at the mention of deus ex machina didn't have much to lean on in terms of entertainment.

The story was weak; there barely was a story, except as a meta version of 'the creation of the story IS the story, geddit? Geddit!?" The writers even poke fun at the idea at the end of the episode. Deep down, they know this is lazy and lame and that it's been done before. Supernatural already did it when they made Supernatural, a series of books and a tv show inside the Supernatural world. And when they made the writer of stories God. It was weird when they did it, but it was still done better.

Chuck Shirley—the in-universe writer of Supernatural and, er, God
Chuck Shirley—the in-universe writer of Supernatural and, er, God

Jan, The Sweaty Writer Nerd, Or A God. Whichever

Sure, the writer in the Rick and Mortyverse is a sweaty nerd who toasts sausages on the flame from a lighter, but he still created a human from nothing. And he has something like control over the superpowered Self Referential Six, which are described inside the narrative as overpowered. Who controls Mr. Twist? The writer. Writers are Gods. We get it, you egotistical nightmares. Jesus is even referenced as a fictional character, controlled by Story Lord and sucked to his marrow by Previous Leon. They aren't even being subtle.

Rick and Morty Season 7 Episode 6 Mr. twist
Rick and Morty Mr. Twist

Bitter Sweaty Writers— Accuracy 10 out of 10—Send Help

"Kid, I'm a writer that wrote something successful. So, if you want me to give it up, you're going to need a black belt and big pair of tits," Jan tells Morty as he sweats away, turning the wheel of motivation. Morty fights back with a Joseph Campbell monologue about writers, the drive to be creative, and the lack of fulfillment that comes with it. How being creative is akin to mental illness and will most likely lead to depression and suicide. For a creative to fail is a gift, presumably because being a failed creative means you are not depressed and suicidal.

It's certainly a point of view. A point of view on writing being fed into the ear of a prepubescent child by the ghost of a famous and acclaimed writer.

I feel like I'm watching the collective breakdown of Rick and Morty's writer's room. Hearing their real-time, word-for-word justifying this very weak episode. They're also all still high on shrooms. This rousing speech about giving up to be happy makes the bitter, sweaty writer stop turning the wheel of motivation. Then the bitter sweaty writer smothers his creation using a plush piece of Rick and Morty merchandising. Which feels accurate to Rick and Morty's arc.

Rick and Morty Season 6, Episode 7, Jan, the writer
Rick and Morty Season 6, Episode 7, Jan, the writer

If You Know It's Stupid, It's Clever. So Hang A Lamp On It, and Everything Will Be Okay

The end of Rick and Morty's Full Meta JackRick is so painfully aware of how mediocre it is that the writers use a writer's trick they conveniently left out of the story about stories. Lampshading. Even though it's a favorite technique used by the Rick and Morty writers' room, conspicuously, we don't get any punny named super powered… what even are the Self Referential Six? Superheroes? They have the latex onesies, but what are they fighting against? Rick and Morty? So bad writing? But then why is—sigh—Connie TinuityError on the good guy's side? Do the writers think continuity errors are good?

Rick and Morty Season 7, Episode 6. Connie TinuityError
Rick and Morty—Connie TinuityError—This episode was so lazy

Jan, the Lampshade writer man, diatribes to himself in a clear acknowledgment of the stupidity of their own story. Wink wink, nudge, nudge, it's not stupid if we draw attention to it:

"Joseph Campell told me to stop writing. Because it should be effortless. When it happens organically that's when it's meant to be. You know, like, um, like me. I'm a writer, here's a pencil. Writers use pencils. Okay, so, like, what if like a pencil used me? Like, um—okay! Yeah! Okay, so it's like a magic pencil that writes the writers life—holy shit it's a movie about a writer! I am back!"


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