"Solar Opposites" "Solar Opposites"

An animated sci-fi comedy full of mayhem and gore, co-created by Justin Roiland. Sound familiar?

Solar Opposites, which crash-lands on Hulu today, is inevitably drawing comparisons to Rick and Morty, the show that raised Roiland’s profile into the stratosphere. On the surface, there are similarities: the dimension-warping premise, the irreverent humor.

But where Rick and Morty (whose fourth season is currently airing on Adult Swim) follows the misadventures of humans through space and time, Solar Opposites stars a clan of aliens who end up stranded on Earth — Middle American suburbia, no less. And Roiland has created it with Rick and Morty writer and producer Mike McMahan.

Solar Opposites was originally pitched to Fox. They passed, and the series ended up with Hulu. This helped shape the show, as McMahan told Den of Geek: “On Fox, you have to appeal to this broad audience. So, when we did another pass on the pilot, we kind of upped all the crazy shit and let some of the safer stuff fall to the wayside. Hulu is like, ‘Just make whatever makes you happy.’” The whole eight-episode series is premiering at once — another departure from Rick and Morty — and critics have noted that it has a more serialized structure.

The voice cast is led by Thomas Middleditch, Sean Giambrone, Mary Mack, and Roiland himself. It is executive produced by Roiland, McMahan, and Josh Bycel, and produced by 20th Century Fox Television, which, like Hulu, is now owned by Disney — this is the first animated series on which the two have collaborated.

The show has been warmly received. In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Feinberg distinguishes the show from its predecessor:

[F]ans of tv animation will probably get a kick out of how hardcore Roiland and McMahan are going, especially for a premise that was originally developed at Fox. This definitely isn’t for kids, starting with the liberal peppering of adult language and carrying through to violence that’s cartoonish and gory enough to leave Rick and Morty, already a show with a reasonable amount of depicted viscera, in the rear-view.

Writing on Decider, Kayla Cobb also spots differences:

But Solar Opposites triples down on the silliest moments in Roiland’s first show, replacing Rick and Morty’s depression, nihilism, and existentialism with a lot more humor … Solar Opposites isn’t as meta, intellectually challenging, or as philosophical as Rick and Morty because it never tries to be any of those things. Instead, it’s a silly show about a bunch of bumbling aliens who are content to entertain themselves with bad magic tricks.

Echoing other critics, The A.V. Club’s Alex McLevy argues that the series gets better as it progresses:

[I]t takes most of the season to get a firm sense of who these characters are, with major personality traits still getting introduced and explored in later episodes. At only eight installments, the first season feels like it’s finding its feet just as it comes to a close. Luckily, the humor is so reliably strong, the pacing so breakneck as it races from one plot to the next, that it’s hard not to be won over by Solar Opposites’s avalanche of charm.

Bradley Russell elaborates on this in his three-star review for Gamesradar:

Solar Opposites’s tone is confused and erratic. The opening episode includes a handful of uncensored f-bombs, sex references, and even a torture scene that feels out of place with the generally lighter, fluffier tone that is cultivated elsewhere. It’s wacky one moment, then starts cursing like a sailor the next. The disconnect doesn’t quite work for the time being.

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