My friends recently got me into the Adult Swim animated show Rick & Morty. If you haven’t seen it yet then you’re doing yourself a disservice, because the show is hilarious. It follows the adventures of Morty a high school kid trying to survive puberty, among other things, and his mad scientist grandfather Rick. As seemingly nonsensical as most of the plot lines in the show are, I believe there is a very real aspect as well.
My grandmother just moved in with my parents in North Carolina. We refurbished my old room to make it comfortable for her to live in and made some changes to the house so that it can be more accessible and navigable for her. While admittedly she isn’t a mad scientist sending me on cross dimensional adventures, she is still a lady who has experienced an incredible life and has stories ranging from the mundane to the absurd and hearing her tell these stories are like little journeys all their own. I don’t mean to romanticize this and say they send us to a different time, but while they might not always transport the listener, they undoubtedly transport the storyteller. I’ve watched as my grandmother accesses her memory for an anecdote and remembers the people and places of her youth, seeing them in her mind as clearly as she is seeing me and the kitchen wall with her eyes.
The change in my family’s living situation, both her leaving Pittsfield and moving in with us, has altered and affected my life and I can only imagine what it would do if I was a little younger and still living at home instead of graduated and on my own up in Boston. To a younger, more impressionable, kid, such as Morty portrays in the show, having a grandparent in the house would be both an exciting and exhausting an adventure. It would be an opportunity to hear about experiences you personally will never have, because they are in the past and about people or things that no longer exist, but it would also be an added responsibility to take care of that person, especially on your own while your parents are at work or your older sibling is disinterested, as is the case in show, and that responsibility would be a lot to take on as a teenager.
The brilliance of Rick and Morty, lies not only in its witty and nerdy jokes, but in its ability to make us laugh at a cultural and societal shift that can admittedly be stressful for everyone involved. As the economy continues to remain stagnantly recessed, more and more senior citizens are finding it difficult to pay bills on retirement and/or social security. Because of this fact, and the awful alternatives of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, grandparents living in the same house as their grandchildren is becoming increasingly common. I don’t just say this because of my personal experience, but because I’ve seen my friends and their grandparents in similar situations. It’s just the reality of the time we live in. And I for one am glad that there’s a show that lets me not only laugh with this reality, but question if it even exists too.