So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Venture Brothers vs. Rick and Morty

Because when you want to create a great debate and piss off a multitude of hyper-focused fanbases? You go for the jugular, kiddos!

As I’ve been enjoying the latest season of “The Venture Brothers”, I denoted a few pals in my feeds proclaiming the superiority of the Venture clan to what I assume is its closest animated kin, “Rick and Morty”. And where I’d anticipated a litany of back-and-forth from our social circles coming to the defense of Mr. (Doctor…?) Sanchez, I was met only by Venture-centric lads and lasses singing continuous praise only for their cartoon of choice.

How disappointing.

Now, let me cut myself off before I get too knee-deep in rage-quit commenters below; I actually love both shows. And were someone to put some form of mega weapon to my forehead and force me to choose one over the other? I’d let them liquify my innards rather than be forced to make a choice. Or, more likely, I’d blurt out “The Good Place is better than both of those shows!” before the gentle zzzzzap! would turn me into fish-paste.

The fact is, the shows are only comparable on the surface alone; because I view them at their cores to be wholly separate entities when it comes to their end-game. Simply put? Rick and Morty is nihilism made blue-haired and drunk. The Venture Brothers is eternal optimism packaged in perfectly pitched pastiche. 

Both shows are astoundingly well-voiced — even if Venture tends to cast and record less than half a casts-worth then they rightfully need given the sheer number of the on-screen roles depicted week in and week out. Both shows are animated well — with Rick being a more schlocky in terms of its character models (but balanced out by the sheer scope and detail given to the litany of alien worlds and creatures in any given episode). Most importantly? Both shows are amazingly written. Plots dovetail with ease. Characters are treated with depth and clarity many other shows often ignore. Serialized beats stack perilously on top of one another, creating rich worlds that get built on with each passing season. And in both cases, neither show has worn out their welcome; often choosing to let characters grow and the universe they inhabit grow right alongside them.

You know, sort of how South Park did it for that one season, and has since forgotten about it.

With all the ass-kissery out of the way though, let’s unpack the real reason nerds are slowly letting this little sub-culture war blossom in the reddit threads and back alleys… The Fans.

The fact is Rick and Morty has a leg up on The Venture Brothers in that it reached a massive audience in far less time. Granted, Venture was early a victim of moving time slots, and for being packed adrift in shorter / lesser / idiosyncratic fare long before the masses truly gelled with the Adult Swing milieu en masse. Rick and Morty got in with the hip kids quickly — which one thinks on it not-too-hardly, seems more than apt, as Rick himself would be the first to tell you how awesome he is. Rusty Venture’s swagger comes with a 44 oz. Mega Gulp of self-hatred, and just feels more like an underdog at its core.

Not long ago, the rabid fanbase of the Sanchez family found themselves in lines at local McDonalds, attempting to berate their way into a beloved dipping sauce. Was the Szechuan Sauce truly worth the ire of tens of thousands of nerf-herders? Hell no. But to them, that was part of the fun. Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland knew exactly what they were doing when they let their more-often-than-not nihilist wax poetic and positively about literally anything. No doubt in their minds that their fanbase would turn that little tirade on McNuggets into the rock they’d anchored their ships to, and make the entire fandom come across as wholly and needlessly seedy and antagonistic.

By proxy, the worst Venture fans might do is have a man cosplay as Dr. Mrs. The Monarch — and have him not pull it off well. It helps that the Ventures never became pickles, or never offered a tangential tie-in to fast food. But I digress.

At the end of the day? There’s more than enough room for both shows to thrive. Furthermore, it helps considerably that both creative teams behind their respective shows take time in between seasons to truly become inspired and only then jump into production. And it’s unlikely they will be out at the same time — creating the kind of fan-ennui that last occurred during that short window when The Simpsons was still on point, and Family Guy held its edge. But those wars ended years ago. And there’s no need for bloodshed over these two brilliant feats of fiction.

But seriously, can we get some Brock Samson sauce at Taco Bell or something? Yeesh.

One thought on “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Venture Brothers vs. Rick and Morty

  1. Two housekeeping mistakes: why is the apostrophe in that “its” at the end of last full paragraph? (. . .Family Guy held it’s edge.)
    Second, “by proxy, the worth Venture fans might do is . . .” Did you mean to use “worse”? I hope you did, because then your meaning is much clearer.

    And those are minor, meaningless mistakes, because I know you have mastery of that part of the writing process. I feel compelled to point them out because I’m annoying. And because you’re always gracious about it.

    Big picture? I love your writing because your sentences flow and meander a bit but always conclude well. The litmus test for me is to love reading a piece for the pleasure without investing my personal opinion of the truth of said piece. I was jolted when you took off in that paragraph about McDonald’s and the Sanchez family because I don’t watch the shows you’re talking about. Because you’re a good writer though, I trusted you and rolled along through the paragraph, and got the general idea of what the hell you were talking about.

    Truth: I don’t eat at fast food restaurants anymore at all. But joking about the sauces and people wanting what they want kept me with you because I have enough of a base of experience to see the basic truth.

    I know enough to recognize a compare and contrast exercise, but yours is poetically written and fun and modern, and I appreciate it. Thanks for putting this stuff out on the internet pillow. I still don’t feel much interest in watching Rick and Morty or The Venture Brothers. So many books, so little time.

    Finally, your artwork/graphic work is absolutely amazing, as always!

    See ya,