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Rick and Morty co-creator: Sunday's new episode 'got away from us'

The show even slipped in a coronavirus reference that surprised some fans.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
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You don't want to know what Rick and Morty call six-pack abs.

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Rick and Morty returned Sunday night with the first episode of the five shows remaining in season 4, and fans were split over the meta-referential episode, jam-packed with references to the writing process and fourth-wall-breaking asides. In a YouTube video posted Sunday, show co-creator Dan Harmon and episode writer Jeff Loveness discussed the contentious episode.

"I think it's going to be a favorite episode of mine," Harmon said. "But I'd be the first to say that, like the story train itself, it got away from us."

The episode, set on a "story train" racing through space, features a disturbing nickname for six-pack abs, an appearance by a muscular Jesus Christ, a bonding session with Rick's former girlfriends, and a discussion of the Bechdel test that led to Summer and Beth shooting rainbows out of their vaginas at scorpions. There was even a brief reference to the coronavirus outbreak, when Rick encourages Morty to look "straight into the bleeding jaws of capitalism" and buy things, since "no one is out there" shopping due to the virus. 

Even star Chris Parnell, who voices Jerry, told Games Radar he was surprised the show was able to slip the virus reference in, since presumably most of the episode was made in 2019. "I guess obviously very late in the game they can add that stuff," Parnell said.

As far as the not-family-friendly nickname for cut abs, which is partially bleeped out throughout the show, Harmon reacted in the video the same as Rick did in the show -- by expressing disgust.

"The grossest phrase I've ever heard in my life," Harmon said of the term. "Disgusting."

Some fans had similar thoughts about the new episode. "The episode sucked," wrote one Twitter user. "Never thought I'd say that about a Rick and Morty episode."

But others argued that the show was smartly poking fun at demanding fans.

"Ugh, I'm surprised how many people don't get it," wrote one Twitter user. "This entire season is one big metajoke to the fans for their outrageous demands and lack of knowledge of how a TV show, especially (a) cartoon, is made."

Maybe a line from the episode fit the situation best. "Shut up, Morty, you're 14," Rick tells his grandson at one point. "You watch videos of people on YouTube reacting to fucking YouTube. I'll be the judge of when we get too meta."

Another new Rick and Morty episode, titled Promortyus and apparently playing off the Alien series of movies, premieres May 10.

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