Many Rick and Morty fans already know the brilliant Adult Swim animated comedy shook up its writersâ€™ room boys club for the current third season, and now have a gender-balanced writing staff. But while this summerâ€™s episodes have received the usual raves from critics and most fans, there has also been some ugly online backlash against the showâ€™s newest team members. The second and third episodes of the season (the Mad MaxÂ trope-busting spoof â€œRickmancing the Stoneâ€ and the gleefully bonkers â€œPickle Rickâ€) were credited to two of the showâ€™s female writers (Jane Becker and Jessica Gao), who were then harassed on Twitter and even had their personal information put online (a.k.a. doxxed).
We spoke to executive producer Dan Harmon (who co-created the show along with Justin Roiland) about what went down.
â€œIâ€™m on a Twitter sabbatical, so the last thing I saw about that was [the Reddit thread detailing the harassment], and Iâ€™ve seen the tweets theyâ€™ve sent to the female writer,â€ Harmon says. â€œI was familiar going into the third season, having talked to Felicia Day, that any high-profile women get doxxed, they get harassed, they get threatened, they get slandered. And part of it is a testosterone-based subculture patting themselves on the back for trolling these women. Because to the extent that you get can get a girl to shriek about a frog youâ€™ve proven girls are girly and thereâ€™s no crime in assaulting her with a frog because itâ€™s all in the name of proving something. I think itâ€™s all disgusting.â€
Continues Harmon: â€œThese knobs, that want to protect the content they think they own â€” and somehow combine that with their need to be proud of something they have, which is often only their race or gender. Itâ€™s offensive to me as someone who was born male and white, and still works way harder than them, that thereâ€™s some white male [fan out there] trying to further some creepy agenda by â€˜protectingâ€™ my work. Iâ€™ve made no bones about the fact that I loathe these people. It fâ€”ing sucks. And the only thing I can say is if youâ€™re lucky enough to make a show that is really good that people like, that means some bad people are going to like it too. You canâ€™t just insist that everybody who watches your show get their head on straight â€¦ And Iâ€™m speaking for myself â€” I donâ€™t want the show to have a political stance. But at the same time, individually, these [harassers] arenâ€™t politicians and donâ€™t represent politics. They represent some shit that I probably believed when I was 15.â€
And if any fan has a problem with any individual episode of Rick and Morty â€” or any scripted series with a writers room, for that matter â€” Harmon pointed out that itâ€™s unfair to single out the credited writer (particularly if that writer is not the showrunner).
â€œItâ€™s total ignorance of how writing a television show works,â€ Harmon adds. â€œItâ€™s frustrating enough having run Community for several years to see threads like, â€˜Oh well, it makes sense this episode was written by Andy Bobrow because when Hilary Winston wrote her episode she tends to linger more on dialogue and Andy is better at the I-want-to-hold-you moments.â€™ And I want to scream at my computer: â€˜You idiots, we all write the show together!â€™ If you can tell the difference between one writer and another on a show Iâ€™m running Iâ€™ve probably gotten so lazy that it hasnâ€™t all been blended and refined in the usual process. The reason one personâ€™s name goes on an episode is that someone has to and everyone deserves one of those times at bat where they have to do all the grunt work â€” they have to do all the outlining, sometimes, if theyâ€™re willing to, they can expand into the post-production process. Thereâ€™s a bunch of reasons why we donâ€™t accurately reflect how many writers contribute to each episode in the credits.â€
Or, to put all this another way:
Rick and Morty airs Sunday nights on Adult Swim (and if youâ€™re not watching it yet you probably should be).