Sara Carbiener, writer of Rick and Morty season 3, addressed the toxic backlash from fans. Rick and Morty season 3 came under fire for the addition of female writers in the writer’s room, but the season did well critically and was well-received by fans. It was recently nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program. Season 3 included iconic episodes like “Pickle Rick” and the “Vindicators 3”, as well as a blend of episodes that push the overall plot of the show, like “The ABC’s of Beth”, and fun filler episodes like “Morty’s Mind Blowers.”
From its start in 2013, Rick and Morty gained a cult following with its unapologetic humor and cynical outlook on the universe. The series follows Rick Sanchez, a brilliant but nihilistic scientist who invented interdimensional travel, and his awkward but kind-hearted grandson Morty as they go on interdimensional adventures while also dealing with family and domestic life. Rick and Morty has received many awards throughout its 5 season run, and is expected to have a 10-episode season 6, although the release date is unknown.
In an interview with Screen Rant, Carbiener expresses that it has been nice to see the vocal opinion change from toxic anger from a minority of people, who apparently just needed time to move on and find something else to criticize, to fans enjoying Rick and Morty season 3. Although Carbiener did express some disappointment in regards to backlash due to female writers being brought onto the show, she expresses that the disappointment had nothing to do with her work on season 3, which makes sense as season 3 is one of the most highly rated seasons. Carbiener seems to think her work spoke for itself, with angry fans eventually moving on from the topic of female writers being an issue after seeing the successful season 3. Read her full comment below:
“It’s been nice. I think that the change of opinion seems to have happened amongst a vocal minority of people who were — and maybe I’m misremembering — who were upset about some of the new writers on the show for various reasons. So it always felt like some of the backlash was just about changes that were being made to who was working on the show on the creative side. It didn’t really feel like the show was earning that so much as decisions the show made about who to put in the writers’ room. [Laughs] I think it’s been nice, because I think that once time passed and once that very, very vocal minority got over it and moved on to other things to be angry about, people could watch season three as season three and not as like, “Oh, this is the season, social justice warriors ruined season 3.” People don’t even say that term anymore; that term is like dead. It’s just kind of nice to get to see the show stand on its own because yeah, from my perspective, any sort of disappointment, it never felt like it was about the work. Yeah, and I mean, I don’t think they can stay frustrated because women have continued to work on the show, so if that was gonna be a sticking point, I think they kind of had to be like, “Alright, we’re just gonna have to let that go.” [Laughs] But if there were other things making people upset about season 3, I don’t remember those, so I can’t speak to that. [Laughs]”
Angry fans on 4chan went as far as publishing new writers’ personal information online when new female writers were announced, and the Rick and Morty fandom is no stranger to toxicity. In 2017, McDonalds re-released its Szechuan Sauce, which was originally used to promote Mulan’s release in 1998 and was mentioned in Rick and Morty season 3, but mobs of fans turned the promotion disastrous when supplies ran out quickly and customers and staff resorted to fighting, verbally abusing, and calling the police. Despite the actions of fans, Rick and Morty continued to please critics and audiences after season 3, with seasons 4 and 5 continuing the show’s Emmy nomination streak with prominent episodes including “The Vat of Acid Episode” and “Mort Dinner Rick Andre.”
Creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon may have created the toxic, self-absorbed, and pessimistic Rick as a humorous take on a brilliant character chained by his own reality, but it seems the character’s toxicity has leaked into the fandom. Fans see Rick’s arrogant, unapologetic way of taking on life and think they can live the same way online where they are anonymous, but unfortunately acting like that is not acceptable in real life. Luckily, the writers affected seem to have some humor about it after season 3’s success, with talent like Carbiener showing that females can not only continue the unique humor and storylines of Rick and Morty but can even help improve them.