I’m so fucking happy wisecrack’s analyses are the best. I’ve been meaning to talk about the importance of why Rick’s fake origin story was central to the themes of meaninglessness and moral grey area and to Rick’s character (and the ultimate April fool’s on popular fanon) and this video sums it up nicely.
(t for depression deathtalk, alcohol m etc.)
Though I do imagine Rick has a very deep and suppressed desire to seek conventional and meaningful connections with other humans like a normal person (exemplified by the fact that he did in fact get married, end up in even in some marginal way caring for his daughter and coming back to her), experience and his need to avoid vulnerability through superhuman genius always win out.
I don’t like the idea that a single catastrophe separated Rick’s conventional happy self and his current nihilistic apathy, no matter how potentially accurate, it’s just not wise writing nor is it congruent w the complexity of his character. I remember reading a comment Harmon made about not wanting to pinpoint Rick’s alcoholism to one specific event, which, he said, would trivialise Rick’s depression and deflect blame of his more destructive tendencies onto an external circumstance. This is something that was very comedically parodied by the creators who really do want to insist that Rick is and likely has been for a very long time a deeply apathetic human being. He looks past the details of individual interactions, doesn’t bother to appreciate a person’s unique idiosyncrasies because he’s come to know that all people are vulnerable in the same way and doomed for either ignorance or depression. He doesn’t bother with details like this that he sees as trivial, instead focusing beyond, imagining the far-off effects of every single action and how it fits into the overall meaning of life, the resigning himself to the fact that nothing matters, which of course always leaves everybody depressed.
Take the showdown between him and AU Rick who had Summer hostage. Repeatedly we’re revealed deeper layers of Rick’s nihilistic train of thought: if there are infinite grandkids he can portal to, then the death of one Summer doesn’t matter. Summer’s subjective experience of any kind of pain or betrayal is, to him, minuscule in the grand scheme of it all.
And this is something else i want to touch on: Rick’s extreme cynicism and anger stem from optimism. His expectations for life, for everyone around him, and himself are too high. He’s smart enough to chart out all the plethora of possibilities (infinite realities) for his own life and humanity as a whole. Likely this presented as pure optimism when he was young, growing up around America’s early space exploration and its utopian visions of a future wth round TVs. But as he grew older, and the sunny sixties turned to the tongue in cheek hedonism of the seventies, that well of optimism shrank. Again and again he’s met with the realisation that nothing is perfect and everything is out of his control. He’s conflicted between a frustrated hope that he will find some kind of meaning, with Unity, Bird Person, Diane, Beth, Morty, Summer, etc
I think after all these years, he’s come to be a frequent flyer of the “get it over with” philosophy otherwise known as defensive pessimism. If Diane and Beth will one day come to the same earth-shattering reality of an absurd universe, why not just leave them right now and get it over with? If we’re all going to die, why not blow up the planet? Rick has come to be so familiar with disappointment that all and any of his expectations are overridden by presumptuous dread.
At this point, it seems Rick uses this as a pretext to deny that his actions have any lasting consequences, he’s too focused on avoiding potential (and sadly inevitable) pain. Coupled with a beautiful concoction of a superiority complex, self-hating alcoholism, depersonalisation, denial though video games and TV, that friends, is how Rick’s psyche works.