There are a lot good animated shows out there geared towards adults. There are also some pretty bad ones. Few and far between, however, are the great ones, the shows that are as poignant and well-executed as they are raunchy and hilarious. Solar Opposites, the new series from Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and head writer Mike McMahan, falls into that elusive final category. The trailers may feel familiar, but it doesn't take long for Solar Opposites to improve on an already solid formula, delivering a story packed with delightful surprises.
On the surface, Solar Opposites feels like something you may have seen before. Let's just be honest, it's hard not to compare it to Rick and Morty when you first start watching. The animation style is the same, the dialogue moves quickly, and the lead character is voiced by Roiland, who also voices Rick Sanchez. Those similarities exist throughout the entire series, but Solar Opposites quickly establishes its own tone and a narrative story structure that couldn't be more different than the one-and-done, episodic style of Rick and Morty and other animated hits.
Solar Opposites is about a group of four aliens that escape to Earth when their planet is destroyed, forced to live amongst us as a makeshift family. Unlike 3rd Rock From the Sun, however, the aliens aren't disguised as humans during their time here. They simply exist as they are, making their efforts to try and understand human culture very apparent and outward. Their relationships are constantly changing and adapting, making them feel more like a family and less like a collection of random aliens who hope to one day control the planet.
All of the characters are enjoyable and relatable, even when they seem like they're up to no good. There is an innocence and excitability from the cast that causes you to connect with each of them on a deeper level. Roiland, Thomas Middleditch, Sean Giambrone, and Mary Mack are all at their best with this group of misfits.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Solar Opposites is that there are actually two stories at play throughout the series, both totally different from one another in every way, but still completely connected. There's the main story of four aliens trying to make it on Earth, which is enjoyable on its own, but the thrilling tale of The Wall that unfolds throughout the season is what elevates Solar Opposites to something spectacular.
One of the alien replicants, Yumyulack (Giambrone), doesn't understand people very well. When one of them makes him mad, he uses his shrink ray to make them fit in the palm of his hand and then deposits them into a wall of interconnected terrariums in his room. It seems like a funny bit in the first episode, but the story of The Wall eventually unfolds into its own epic narrative. Taking from the pages of Snowpiercer and Escape from New York, a dystopia emerges inside The Wall, with a couple of people taking control and developing a system that oppresses the lower classes. A couple of tiny humans in the lower levels of the wall eventually lead an uprising to take on the upper levels, resulting in an intense and surprisingly emotional episode-long showdown.
The way that these two stories work together is what makes Solar Opposites such a great and wildy entertaining series. There's a balance of complete sincerity and utter buffoonery that very few shows are able to achieve, making for a one-of-a-kind experience. If you're expecting a Rick and Morty spinoff series; don't. Solar Opposites is something much better.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The first season of Solar Opposites will be released on Friday, May 8th on Hulu.
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