What is Rick and Morty’s secret storytelling weapon? Time travel
Rick and Morty traveled back in time with a storytelling secret for you.
How crazy and creative are your ideas? Do they pop off the walls, become sentient cucumbers, and survive by cloning themselves? Or are they more like … normal? No matter what you write, there is a lot you can learn from Rick and Morty.
The show pays homage to Back to the Future, partial deconstruction of genius, the ego and all of humanity. Every week there is a new adventure for the gang and lots of deep lessons. It’s also one of the best-written shows on TV, and they have a secret how they do it.
You can travel back in time.
Check out this video from Wild books, and let’s talk after the jump.
What is Rick and Morty’s secret storytelling weapon?
If you’ve tried writing a lot for television, you know that one of the hardest things to do is decide what will drive the episode. You need characters to get into an awkward position and then split into A and B stories to deal with. Well, on a time travel show, you can get into an awkward position without ever showing it off.
You see, characters can come from the future who are resentful about something that hasn’t happened yet. That way, you don’t have to have someone on screen inciting something, you can just follow their reactions to the consequences.
Now, Rick and Morty doesn’t always use this technique, but they always have it available. Time travel gives them all sorts of narrative means to play with. You can have people from the future who instigate things, or problems that arise in the present because they accidentally changed something in the past.
The very idea of time travel poses so many problems that it is easy for a broadcaster buying a show to see its potential and ability to produce hundreds of episodes. It also makes the animated aspect of the show very easy to present. When people ask, “Why does this have to be animated?” You can respond with the stakes, graphs, and constant environmental changes that compel your hand (unless you’re ready to spend millions per episode).
Time travel isn’t a big secret, but it’s a great example of an idea with legs. It’s one that we know, depending on the show runner’s vision, can cause a TV show to stretch and hold.
Every show may not be able to travel through time, but anyone who wants to write TV can understand that as you perfect your story, you need to make conflict and conflict resolution the driving factor behind the idea. Leaders need to see how the conflict will naturally arise in this world and what your characters will do to resolve it.
Keep that in mind for every idea you work on in the future … and in the past. Conflict is what makes TV shows last. And if you can’t find your conflict, go back in time and find a way to resolve it.
Let me know what you think in the comments.