Rick and Morty has grown quite a following since its initial debut almost six and a half years ago. Co-creator, Justin Roiland, is hoping to repeat that success with his latest series, Solar Opposites, which premieres this Friday, May 8, on Hulu. Once again, Roiland goes to the sci-fi animated sitcom well.
In Solar Opposites, we meet aliens, Korvo and Terry, and their replicants (kids), Yumulack and Jesse, one year after crash landing on Earth. Their mission is to protect the Pupa, a living supercomputer who will one day terraform the planet into a suitable place for the rest of their race to inhabit. Until then, the team soaks up as much of our culture they can to learn about their adopted new world.
The show’s title relates to the group’s contrasting views of Earth and its inhabitants. You can tell who are pro us and who aren’t based on their names. It’s through this makeshift family’s perspective, that we take a look at our society with an outsider and intellectual lens. What may seem typical and ordinary to us such as Taco Tuesdays, man caves and home owners associations are approached with intrigue and novelty by them. Solar Opposites does a good job of taking the mundane and turning it on it on its head for outlandish zaniness and maximum tomfoolery.
Throughout the season, the series also approaches familiar tropes including experiencing puberty, college hijinks, zombies and time travel but adds something fresh and new. The sci-fi element adds a different dimension and the ability to take these storylines in interesting directions so it doesn’t feel like stale or recycled material.
Solar Opposites has a more procedural format with each episode standing on its own. However, there is a compelling overarching subplot that runs the entirety of the season. It has a great build up and culminates in an epic conclusion. The show really took a risk with the storyline and it pays off in the end.
One complaint is that many of the episodes follow a similar formula. It always seems like these aliens are embroiled in a world ending threat of their making and have to clean up their mess while learning a lesson in the process. Reusing the same plot structure can get a bit repetitive but at least the actual situations are different and there is enough comedy and action to keep things exciting. Plus, the moral is what helps make it a family sitcom.
Since Roiland is the co-creator, Solar Opposites will always draw comparisons to his other creation. It is a sci-fi animated series with a genius a-hole patriarch who has access to all kinds of crazy and inventive devices. The aesthetic is similar and Korvo sounds like Rick with less burping. However, the show has enough that it can step out of the giant Rick and Morty shadow.
Rather than traveling to different dimensions and planets, it takes place predominantly on Earth. This provides a more grounded feel despite all the sci-fi theatrics. Also, at its heart, the story is about the American immigrant experience. The family is introduced to a new culture and they grow to love their adopted home.
In addition, the character dynamics seem more balanced. The couplings of Korvo and Terry and Yumulack and Jesse clearly possess different personalities. There is a boorish, science minded and jaded half along with a friendly, easy going and optimistic half. Despite the odd couple pairing, there isn’t a clear alpha. They serve more as opposite, complementary and equal sides of their respective partnerships. And they all are working towards the same goal: to fit in and be liked.
Solar Opposites is a fun, high concept, family sitcom with sci-fi elements. The show provides fresh, imaginative takes on familiar tropes. For fans of Rick and Morty, there is plenty there to enjoy but the show is good enough to stand on its own.