B1 Intermediate US 430 Folder Collection
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We often look down on people who take things
too literally, but some of Rick and Morty's

most hilarious jokes are derived from being

["Well then get your shit together! Get it all together and put it in a backpack. All your shit. So it's together."]
-- taking a sci-fi trope and
interpreting it literally, picking apart “common
knowledge,” and taking a concept all the

way to its logical conclusion.
["Fighting continues as the dog army
captures the Eastern Seaboard.
It appears clear at this time
that the era of human superiority
has come to a bitter end."]
Matching a scientist's thought process,
the show takes conventional story clichés,

and everything we generally assume, and unpacks
them with a thorough, defiantly literal mind.

The result, besides being funny, teaches us
to break our habit of processing our lives

through assumptions.
It teaches us to think like Rick.
["Oh you agree, huh? You like that Red Green Grumbolt reference?
Well, guess what? I made him up.
You really are your father's children. Think for yourselves. Don't be sheep."]
Instead of allowing viewers to watch in a
placid, Jerry-like oblivion, the show's

genius for being literal pushes us to look
at the world more like Rick does -- questioning

everything, avoiding assumptions, and trying
to perceive the many-layered complexity life

has to offer.
["Life is effort and I'll stop when I die!"]
The show asks, for example, what if a telepathic
cloud actually existed?

How would this cloud be able to untangle the
thoughts it hears and understand which thought

relates to which human words?
["I communicate through what you call
Jessica's feet. No...telepathy."]
Or, would a Frankenstein monster share the
personalities of all the people whose body

parts it was made of?
Then, if this were a monster made up of half
Abraham Lincoln and half Hitler, how would

it reconcile the conflicting values it has?
["I definitely think that all men are created equal...
...but at the same time..."]
To think like Rick it's necessary to master
something called “First Principles Thinking”.

["First Principles is kind of a physics way of
looking at the world
and what that really means is
you kind of boil things down to the most fundamental
truths and say, okay,
what are we sure is true, or
as sure as possible is true,
and then reason up from there."]
In our daily life we almost never think this
way, instead we mostly think by analogy.

For example, if we see this - we make a snap
decision - because we've seen this before

-- it's round, it's red, it's shiny
--it's an apple!

But what if it's not an apple?
Past experience lets us jump to instant conclusions
and we do this thousands of times a day, almost

every time we have a thought about anything.
Thinking by analogy saves our brains a lot
of time and effort

["We reason by analogy. It's...we're doing this because
it's like something else that was done, or it's like what other people are doing."]
...but it also stops us from
discovering anything new.
If we thought by analogy 100% of the time
we would still be traveling like this.

["Nobody wants a car because horses are great and we're used to them and they can eat grass
and there's lots of grass all over the place and, y'know, there's not, like, there's no gasoline
that people can buy so people are never gonna get cars.
People did say that."]
Rick tries to make his grandkids avoid the
mistakes of thinking by analogy

["This seems kinda fancy."
"Jerry, for all you know this is the equivalent of an alien truck stop. You have no frame of reference."]
and in many ways the show does
the same thing for us.
By evaluating sci-fi possibilities without
skipping over the awkward details, Rick and

Morty mimics the comprehensive process of
a scientific thought experiment.

Most of the stories we watch are full of clichés
and conventions that don't make any sense

but that we happily accept because we're
so used to seeing them.

Just like Rick, the show never misses an opportunity
to point out ineptitude or logical errors

in classic sci-fi stories and other movies
it references.

["It's just like that movie that you keep crowing about." "Are you talking about Inception?"]
"That's right Morty. This is gonna be a lot like that except, y'know, it's gonna make sense."]
In “Anatomy Park” we see how implausible
it is that in many sci-fi movies, there is

a character who willingly steps forward and
sacrifices his or her own life for the good of the team

["There's no autopilot. One of us will have to stay here and operate it manually.
When Rick and Morty meet Scary Terry,
["Welcome to your nightmare, bitch!"]
a B-list
Freddy Krueger,

they point out a pretty glaring issue
with horror movies in general by taking the

sentence at its word: [“He keeps saying we can run but we can't hide. I say we try hiding”]
They also point out the issues a number of
films have with vampire naming conventions

["Coach Feratu's presence was discovered by the humans. He has been destroyed."
"No bother. The mortals shall soon--I'm sorry, what did you say his name was?"]
In “M. Night Shaym-Aliens”, they point
out a problem with director M. Night Shyamalan's

trademark twists -- they aren't always that
cool, especially if we know they're coming,

like we do when we go to see a Shyamalan film.
[“Oh, this is going to be such a mind fuck!”]
Rick finds out he is in a simulation,
then it turns out he was in a simulation of

a simulation and another simulation
after that --

["How dumb are you? You're inside a simulation of a simulation inside another giant simulation!"]
-- and gets more and more annoyed with each realization.
His annoyance mimics the audience's in a bad
"mind-bender" - fed up with the constant twists

and turns and ready to know what's real.
All of these jokes make us aware of the way
that stories tend to rely on easy, unexamined

Rick and Morty is trying to avoid this form
of copping out, by maintaining logical integrity

in the way that its characters resolve their

Rick and Morty is also picking apart itself
like a sentient TV show asking, “What am

It begins by mixing up the formulas we expect.
We're used to seeing any show or movie begin
with an exposition which sets up the upcoming

plot lines.
Rick and Morty sometimes gets rid of exposition
all together.

For example, here's how the episode “Meeseeks
and Destroy” begins.

This plot doesn't play any part in the actual
episode or anywhere else in the show.

Meanwhile, the title sequence features a lot
of shots we never see on the show.

This creates a strange “did I miss an episode?”
feeling and suggests that Rick's and Morty's
adventures go on whether we are watching or

We sense that Rick & Morty's multiverse
has autonomy, existing outside what we observe

- this disrupts the traditional hierarchy
of viewer and show.

The show also has a running self-commentary,
like in the many times Rick breaks the fourth

When Rick and Morty are watching the Interdimensional
Cable, Rick says about a show ["It's got an

almost improvisational tone”] We immediately
recognize this statement to be a comment on

Rick and Morty, because Justin Roiland often does break character and sound like he's improvising.
["And it's called...Two Brothers. Two Brothers. It's just called Two Brothers."]
In “Meeseeks and Destroy,” Morty seems
aware that his trips with Rick are stories

-- self-contained adventures-of-the week.["You keep heckling my adventure, Rick!"]
He even references Joseph Campbell's monomyth:
["I'll accept your call to adventure."]

We later get a call-back to Morty's awareness
of the serialized nature of his and Rick's adventures.

["I, Morty Smith, invoke my right to choose one in every ten Rick and Morty adventures.']
By giving the characters lines that sound
like writers room banter, the show gives the

characters power over their own story through
their self-awareness.

Rick and Morty know about their own character

["That's my series arc, Morty! If it takes nine seasons!"]
which makes us think that -- if we started
looking at the stories of our own lives -- maybe
we could pay attention to our character arcs,

So the show's self-awareness challenges
us to become a little more self-aware, too.

["I want you kids to look around you today and think about your future.
Now is the time in your life when anything is possible."]
The Science Fiction genre has always used
futures or alternate realities to comment

on deep, close-to-home issues in our own society
-- think: slavery and freedom, or what it

means to be human.
Rick and Morty continues this tradition of
deep-thinking Sci-Fi, but with a twist.

They take the pathos down a notch and dial
up some of the more ridiculous aspects of

our culture.
The sci-fi worlds Rick and Morty visit regularly
overflow into the “regular” one Morty's

family inhabits.
In other stories, this kind of intrusion typically
elicits terror and shock -- the muggles'

world is always shaken when they witness magic.
But Rick's family reacts to alien intrusions
with mild irritation or indifference.

This goes to illustrate just how capable humans
are of getting used to the weirdest things

-- we view something as 'normal' if it's
been around long enough.

["Traditionally, science fairs are a father-son thing."
"Well, scientifically, traditions are an idiot thing.”]
unfortunate trait is illustrated by Rick's

family's selective blindness.
Rick and Morty also hilariously infuses the
sci-fi worlds with elements of our world,

like our obsessions with networking,
["Nice to meet you, Morty! Listen, if you ever need anybody murdered, please give me a call."]
["Does Grandpa turn himself into a pickle a lot?"]
["Advertising! Wow! So, people need help figuring out what to buy and then you help them?"]
and using people for profit.
["No, no, no. They work for each other in exchange for money, which they then..."
"That just sounds like slavery with extra steps!"]
All of these jokes go to show that sometimes
the social phenomena our world produces are

actually stranger than an alien mosquito assassin,
named Krombopulos Michael.

Our brains are wired to make shortcuts wherever
possible - every stereotype, cognitive bias

or rule of thumb we possess is something our
brains use to come to conclusions faster and

save processing power for other things.
Rick and Morty teaches us to undo some of
this conditioning, to challenge our complacent

approach by dismantling step by step the pre-packaged
concepts we heavily lean on without realizing.

It asks us to forget what we think we know,
and meanwhile to allow ourselves to get a

little wackier in our thinking,
["I'd like to order one large person with extra people please."]
so that we
might arrive at something more original, profound

and true.
Ultimately, the plays on genre tropes and
literalism do more than just add some humor

and post-modernist-flair: they make us smarter,
by teaching us to think like Rick.

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Rick and Morty: How to Think Like Rick

430 Folder Collection
Ellie published on May 13, 2019
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