Gold Derby Emmy MVP: Animated Adult Swim hit ‘Rick and Morty’ should draw voters

Adult Swim’s new animated series, “Rick and Morty,” is one of this year’s biggest surprise hits and Emmy voters should take notice of it in this year’s race for Animated Program.

Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon (of “Community” fame), the show centers on Rick (Roiland), an elderly substance abusing, mad scientist who makes life difficult for his daughter, Beth (Sarah Chalke of “Scrubs”). He moves in with her and her husband Jerry (Chris Parnell from “30 Rock” and “Archer”) and their two teenage kids: Summer (Spencer Grammer) and younger son Morty (also Roiland). Rick continues his insane work and experiments but now uses Morty as his companion when he travels to alternate universes and far-away worlds.

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The show is completely demented in a wonderfully magnificent way. Among the adventures so far: Rick creating an amusement park of the human body inside a drunk hobo, Morty’s family dealing with helpful assistants called Meeseeks that gets completely out of hand, Morty accidentally fathering an alien child using a sex-robot and Rick and Summer throwing a massive party while Beth and Jerry are away. These descriptions only touch on the tip of each episodes multiple storylines which come together in a wonderful blend of absurdity and very dark humor that feels like a home run every time.

The program has been a hit with both audiences and critics alike. Its pilot debuted back in December to almost 1.1 million viewers and the season one finale that aired in April played to more than two million viewers, also scoring a 0.9 rating in adult viewers 18-49. The series has also been backed by many critics, which has led to an impressive score of 85 (out of 100) on Metacritic.

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However, the Emmy prospects for the show are uncertain. Adult Swim has been on the Emmy radar for quite some time now. Since the network launched as the evening counterpart to Cartoon Network, it has received 16 total Emmy nominations and won four trophies: Short Format Animated Program for “Robot Chicken” in 2010, Variety/Special Costumes for “Titan Maximum” in 2010 and Special Class Short Format Live-Action Program for “Childrens Hospital” in 2012 and 2013. And the network’s shows have earned three juried Emmys for Individual Achievement in Animation.

However, those are the only shows from Adult Swim that have gotten any Emmy recognition, with the exception of “Morel Oral” winning a juried award in 2009. TV academy voters have not taken to the newer stuff coming out of Adult Swim. 

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And consider that they have snubbed another animated show that has been a hit with both audiences and critics — FX’s “Archer” — which has consistently been well reviewed and highly rated. FX has always made it a part of their Emmy campaign since the show debuted in 2010. But, aside from a voice-acting nomination in 2010, the show has been criminally overlooked every year. Could “Rick and Morty” be subject to the same fate?

Will having Harmon as part of the creative team help? His recently cancelled “Community” was a cult favorite but reaped only one Emmy bid (writing in 2012). However, Harmon was nominated as part of the writing team for the 81st Academy Awards and shared in the Emmy for Original Music & Lyrics for Hugh Jackman’s opening number on the 2009 Oscarcast.

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So, how does this series size up at the Emmys? Let’s review the pros and cons of this Gold Derby Emmy MVP:

Strong reception from both critics and audiences.

Adult Swim has had a good track record at the Emmys recently, winning four trophies in the past four years and garnering 16 nominations in its eight years on the air. 

Emmys were very quick to get on board with the Adult Swim series “Childrens Hospital.”

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Shows with similar reception from critics and audiences, like “Archer,” have not fared well with the Emmys.

The range of programming from Adult Swim recognized by Emmys is limited.

While Harmon is an Emmy winner, he was never nominated for his biggest hit, “Community.” 

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