OPINION: Emulating Pickle Rick: Finding godless, purposeless undertones in entertainment

Erick Murrer, opinion columnist for the College Heights Herald

Erick Murrer



How could a show featuring “inter-dimensional” travel throughout infinite universes bustling with extraterrestrial life possibly profile the real world we live in today?

Apparently, it does a great job doing so.

It might be strange to glean practical philosophy from the animated TV Show “Rick and Morty”, but I couldn’t be more hopelessly satisfied. As an atheist immersed by a popular culture which celebrates sappy religious undertones, I crave entertainment that rejects naivety and recognizes the realities of a godless, purposeless world.

If God didn’t exist and happenstance was allowed to have its way, hurricanes would be able to decimate whole communities like when Hurricane Harvey might have been able to kill 63 people. Oh wait, it did.

When the religious offer up convoluted rationales for pain and suffering, the narrative simply ignores our day-to-day existence in a material world characterized by a careless indifference from the universe.

There’s one scene from the “Pickle Rick episode that aptly frames the choices we as humans have to make.

Let me briefly set up the prelude: the Smith family is ravaged by the effects of divorce, and in a desperate effort to patch up the family and return things back to normalcy, Beth Smith takes her children and mad scientist father to a therapist’s office. Voiced by Susan Sarandon, the psychologist schools Rick on the merits of therapy:

“There’s no way to do it [therapy] so wrong you might die. It’s just work. And the bottom line is, some people are okay going to work, and some people… well, some people would rather die. Each of us gets to choose.”

Each of us gets to choose. The power of our existence is that we choose to shape our own destinies. Sure, we might be victims of a hapless universe, but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying what we have here in an attempt, albeit sometimes futile, to make lives better.

I appreciate “Rick and Morty for its ability to humorously delineate absurdist, nihilist and existentialist philosophies. By doing so, a whole swath of people, once feeling disconnected and missing togetherness can bond over a TV show centered around the brevity of life.

When faced with the news that Summer Smith’s parents might be happier without her as their child in an alternate universe, Morty comforts Summer exclaiming, “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.”

So that’s what I’m going to do after completing my homework, sending work emails and calling my mother up on the phone. I’ll come watch TV. Preferably for a long while.