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Solar Opposites

Entry updated 30 January 2023. Tagged: TV.

US animated online tv series (2020). 20th Television Animation. Created by Mike McMahan and Justin Roiland. Executive producers: Josh Bycel, Mike McMahan and Justin Roiland. Directed by Kim Arndt, Lucas Gray, Bob Suarez and Andy Thom. Writers include Mike McMahan and Justin Roiland. Voice cast includes Sean Giambrone, Mary Mack, Sagan McMahan, Thomas Middleditch and Justin Roiland. Eight 24-minute episodes. Colour.

"Planet Shlorp was the perfect Utopia until the Asteroid hit. 100 adults and their replicants were issued a pupa and escaped into space, searching for new homes on uninhabited worlds" (see Colonization of Other Worlds). Unfortunately the group of tetchy Korvo (Roiland), easy-going Terry (Middleditch), jerky Yumyulack (Giambrone), friendly Jesse (Mack) and a pupa (McMahan) crashland on Earth. Despite their Alien appearance they settle as middle-class suburbanites, whilst Korvo tries to repair the Spaceship. Though at first glance a family – a couple, two teenage children and a baby – we learn Korvo and Terry were randomly picked adults; Yumyulack and Jesse are replicants – and the pupa will grow into something that will Terraform Earth, destroying all existing life whilst doing so. Also, strictly speaking, they are plants not animals and do not have sexes. Korvo, Terry and Yumyulack adopt male roles and Jesse female (see Gender).

A family sitcom using an alien perspective to Satirize Earth culture and civilization is a familiar concept – see 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996-2001) and Coneheads (1993) – though this series is heavier on the sf elements and, sometimes, gore (see Horror). There are similarities to Rick & Morty (2013-current), which McMahan, Roiland and other members of the crew also work on; however this series focuses more on family ("people that want stuff but don't want to admit it, who are kind of dumb and really naive" – McMahan) rather than big sf ideas, nihilism and their consequences.

The pupa is gradually revealed to be a well-spoken Dream Hacker, capable of byzantine scheming, but does so to acquire childish things, such as a locked-away Harry Potter whistle. There is a subplot where Yumyulack shrinks people (see Great and Small; Miniaturization) and imprisons them in a wall of transparent cages, with Jesse feeding them sweets: episode seven is entirely set here, a Satire of stories about Post-Holocaust scarcity societies where a tyrant controls resources and is opposed by an underground resistance (see Clichés).

Save for the second episode (about an AI Nanotech Hive Mind trying to head the Homeowners Association), season one only really hits its stride with the last three stories. Along with the aforementioned shrunken society, these are Korvo and Terry deciding they need a man cave in the house, which necessitates the building of the perfect Television wife (see Feminism; Robots); it ends badly: "You gave her rocket launchers!" "It's harder to build a robot without them – they're load bearing." The other involves a holodeck (see Virtual Reality) visit to Planet Shlorp before it was destroyed; Korvo's opening narration proves to be a little rose-tinted.

This is a good and promising new series that uses many sf tropes, possessing strong Humour and improving storylines; season two is greatly anticipated. In January 2023, following accusations of domestic violence, Roiland was dismissed from the show; Solar Opposites is expected to continue without him. [SP]


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