After a string of high-profile controversies, Rick and Morty co-creator and star Justin Roiland was ousted from the hit animated series by Adult Swim. That left the show not only without its two leads but a long list of supporting characters as well.
Soundalike newcomers Ian Cardoni and Harry Belden have since taken over as Rick and Morty, respectively, and after a so-so couple of episodes, both actors proved themselves fitting replacements with this past Sunday's "That's Amorte."
Still, for a lot of fans, the change isn't one they're willing to accept and co-creator Dan Harmon shared his thoughts on that - and the general response to this latest season - in a recent interview with Gizmodo (via Toonado.com).
"The internet is so Balkanized now," he tells the site. "Even within individual comment sections, let alone separate venues, the only rule is complete polarity: everything has to be the absolute worst or the absolute best."
"Even people that say something’s mediocre have to say it with such vehemence that you would think their blood vessels were bursting. So unfortunately, it’ll dictate the course of my entire day if I see the wrong thing, which means that even though there’s a bunch of important stuff out there to see, I kind of have to have a general rule that I’m not Googling anything about this show."
"Stuff will trickle through to me; somebody will say, ‘Hey, the spaghetti episode ['That’s Amorte'] is very well-received,’ and they’ll point me in the direction of, for instance, the Rick and Morty subreddit, where mental health seems to be still having a last stand," Harmon continues. "I don’t know how they manage to cultivate that. I was pretty impressed—I was able to scroll through the entire subreddit, people reacting to the spaghetti episode, and they were just having a nice, lively discussion as if they were just, you know, Star Trek fans discussing a show that they love. And it was very uplifting and wonderful."
"I think the silent majority and healthy majority are like, 'Okay, this is as good as you can manage,'" he said of the reaction to Cardoni and Belden. "The characters are still alive. That was the goal from the outset; fans of the show, consider them fans of the characters, and they just want to continue to watch the show and feel that those characters are still alive, and it seems that we were successful in that mission."
"I think that there is an air of religious zealotry to the people that are insisting that the voices are somehow unignorably, catastrophically different. I think that most people seem to be saying, 'Okay, it sounds like Rick, and it sounds like Morty, let’s proceed.'"
Rick and Morty could have taken a cue from Solar Opposites by heading down a completely different route (Legion star Dan Stevens replaced Roiland as Korvo there) but this franchise is ultimately far more iconic. So too are the show's leads, so for them to sound unrecognisable...well, the backlash likely would have been even worse. Making everyone happy was never going to be easy, after all.
Still, Cardoni and Belden have really stepped up and, as Harmon says, it's allowed the characters to live on when the alternative was to just scrap the series entirely!