Kaylene Kerber – Opinions Writer
There probably isn’t much I can say about Community and Rick and Morty that hasn’t been said before. The differences between these shows aren’t hard to come by; There is very little overlap between their messages, mediums, and fan bases. Except the fact that they were created by the same man: Dan Harmon.
Community inspires in unconventional ways. The characters understand the importance of lifting up other members of their study group, exemplified with the iconic quote, “…so pick up your pom poms, Pierce, stuff your bra, and get ready for the team bus to forget you at a Taco Bell because life is tough. But we soldier on, and that is just the way it goes.”
Rick and Morty, on the other hand, holds more of a nihilist perspective. Even the machines question their purpose on Earth, such as when a machine asked Rick, “What is my purpose?” only to receive the response, “You pass butter.”
Even Rick and Morty’s look on love is rather grim, showcased in this quote: “I hate to break it to you but what people call ‘love’ is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed.” Later that episode (S1E6), Rick talks about how marriage is designed to fail, warning Morty not to get involved in that “silliness.” In fact, Morty’s obsession with a girl blindsides him into destroying his whole universe. Clearly the purpose of Rick and Morty was to display the dark side of love. Love quite literally destroyed an entire universe.
Community’s Season 3 Episode 11 shows Britta‘s outlook on marriage remaining pessimistic throughout the majority of the episode, remarking that marriage reinforces “antiquated gender roles.” Britta brings up a fair point and marriage isn’t equivalent to love, but she takes it too far, forcing her anti-marriage views on Shirley as well. Jeff takes it one step further, saying, “Life’s too long to spend it with someone else,” rejecting the idea of love or companionship all together. Despite its jabs against love, however, Community remains optimistic about love in the end and ultimately Jeff and Britta support Shirley in her decision to get married. The show understands that though love is hard, it is worth “making the promise everyday”.
The fan bases differ in significant ways also. Based on Harmon’s podcast, Harmontown, it almost seems like he encourages his fans to be overbearing by saying, “America, can’t you stop f*cking commenting on everything?” which only added fuel to the fire. In 2017, Rick and Morty fans were cemented online as an egocentric malignant fanbase. After a joke in Season 3 Episode 1 of Rick and Morty mentioned McDonald’s discontinued szechuan sauce, the restaurant chain revived it under pressure from fans, only for fans to then act out of line when coming to the stores to get their sauce packets.
In contrast, the fanbase of Community was described as the “most passionate fan base in TV history.” With the news that Harmon was fired from his own passion project, fans rebelled, questioning whether they should support the corporation that booted him out. Other articles concur that Community has “unusually devoted following.” Instead of ridiculing Harmon for inconveniencing them and jeopardizing the quality of the show, the fanbase feels for him, unlike Rick and Morty fans who, according to Harmon, are “equal parts acolyte and troll” and “always demanding more.” Before the current Rick and Morty season that is airing right now, fans were constantly bullying Harmon about setbacks.
As we can see, though the two shows may share a creator, they could not be more different. Dan Harmon’s creative vision shines through in both shows, though in very different ways, and the public’s reception of the two make their differences clear.