Have you ever wondered what would happen if Rick and Morty and Invader Zim had a baby? Me either, to be entirely honest. Then Solar Opposites happened, and I realized that just because I'd never thought of the two procreating and creating some kind of comedic monstrosity, I'm glad it did.
The series is written in a way that will please Rick and Morty fans while easily drawing in a new audience. Cute creatures, mostly solid jokes and enough commentary to keep things poignant make Justin Roiland's newest animated a perfect storm.
Something to do while our home planet goes boom
Bottom line: In Pupa We Trust
Let's be clear here — this show's doing nothing to hide the fact that it's created by the same team behind Rick and Morty . That's a feature, not a bug. With that in mind, there are quite a few more belly laughs than I anticipated when seeing the familiar font rolling through the title pages.
If I'm being truthful, I've always been pretty lukewarm on Rick and Morty . I've seen several episodes (admittedly a few more this weekend thanks to a begrudging distanced binge with a friend), and while I'd never found anything ostensibly wrong with the show, a (likely) small but vocal section of fandom has always been a huge turnoff for me. Why did Solar Opposites work more for me than its belching brother? Probably a lack of Szechuan sauce slurping maniacs , to be honest. Also? This little guy.
This is the Pupa. The Pupa has no name. The Pupa is the best part of Solar Opposites , just as Gir was the best part of Invader Zim . Now, this little blob isn't just there to be cute. Its purpose is outlined during the show intro, so don't throw me in spoiler jail – this little dude is basically meant to be the end of days. When Korvo's (Roiland) species evacuated their dying planet, they were each issued a pupa. The blob's purpose is to grow up big and strong and wipe out whichever planet they evacuated to. Since Korvo and company came to Earth, we're the lucky winners of the Pupa Apocalypse (let's be honest – feels par for the course in 2020).
As you'd expect from a Justin Roiland jam, the Pupa doom plot is tertiary at best. It's ever-looming and will play a part in the first season's finale, but the creature's mostly just there to be hilarious for the bulk of the series. We even get an adventure or two with the little blob. Sometimes it turns colors! Yes, I realize I've spent two paragraphs of a review talking about what might be a sentient pile of snot. It's a selling point, I swear!
Narratively speaking, there are several plots running at all times. Typical character pairings include Korvo and Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack), but there's also a whole miniaturized-people uprising that acts as a pretty consistent side-plot through the season. How'd they get miniaturized, you wonder? Obviously Yumyulack needed them for his experiment wall. After enough people are thrown in the wall, a Snowpiercer / The Platform vibe starts to form. Somehow it all works despite it having absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the series. I have no answers for you, only entertainment. This side-plot ends up getting its own episode before the season wraps. Such a thing often is detrimental to an overall narrative, but The Wall arc is interesting enough that most viewers won't mind.
While Solar Opposites did end up working for me much more than I'd expected, there are a couple jokes that fall relatively flat. Humor is - as with all art - subjective, and I suspect the few that missed the mark for me will still play like gangbusters for the larger Rick and Morty fueled audience. With that in mind, tossing in glass ceiling and period jokes can work! They just don't here.
That minor quibble aside, the show hits more home runs with its commentary than it strikes out. Wrapped in a snug little comedy blanket are conversations about our treatment of those we see as "alien", classism, fragile male ego, bullying… you get the gist. It rarely punches down and sells its messaging in a way that's not distracting from its brand.
There's the exact right mixture of familiarity and freshness that makes Solar Opposites' eight-episode first season an ideal quarantine binge. It's farfetched, fun, and funny enough to lift your spirits while still saying something. It also doesn't use nearly as much alliteration as this sentence. You can be the judge as to whether that's to its favor or detriment.
May your pupas remain immature!
Believe in the wall
It's the aliens' world. We're just living on it
You can check out Solar Opposites and countless other titles over on Hulu now!
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Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.