Solar Opposites is the latest side project from “Rick and Morty” co-creator Justin Roiland and producer Mike McMahan, debuting on streaming service Hulu. Obvious comparisons aside, the eight-episode animated series once again delves into sci-fi elements, pairing it with fish out of water comedy and a dash of American suburban satire for good measure – think The Simpsons crossed with 3rd Rock from the Sun.
The series follows a dysfunctional family of aliens who have crash landed on Earth after their homeworld, Shlorp, was destroyed by an asteroid. While the brains of the bunch, Korvo (Justin Roiland) attempts to fix their spaceship, Terry (Thomas Middleditch) is supposed to be taking care of the pupa (a sort of murderous Maggie), who will eventually conquer the planet once it reaches adulthood. Meanwhile their de facto kids Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack) attempt to navigate high school, but their tendency to shrink anyone who irritates or upsets them sparks a whole new World in their bedroom wall…
Ok lets address the elephant in the room; Solar Opposites is not quite as clever as Rick and Morty, the series also lacks the emotional depth which sets the Adult Swim series head and shoulders above most of the other adult animation out at the moment. But this is a much more lighthearted approach, more in the vein of animated sitcoms such as The Simpsons or Family Guy, with an intriguing family dynamic at the heart of the show. The series delves into smarter subjects such as gender politics whilst exploring man caves in episode six, “The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A Device” along with time travel in the strong season finale.
The quality of the show definitely improves as the series progresses, mainly as the focus shifts from Korvo and Terry to Yumyulack and Jesse’s adventures. The series proves largely episodic in nature, with Korvo and Terry’s conflicts acting as the main plot thread, while running concurrently to Yumyulack and Jesse’s quests, even the Pupa gets the odd bloodthirsty adventure. It’s when the show throws that approach out of the window with the outstanding seventh episode, “Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear” that things get really interesting. Roiland and McMahan somehow manage to turn “The Wall” C plot into the series’ best instalment, with a standalone adventure full of twists and turns, post-apocalyptic riffs and plenty of heart.
While Rick and Morty generally hinges on the titular central pairing, the strength of Solar Opposites is in the more fleshed out family dynamic. Yes Korvo is very much an alien version of Rick, but the rest of the aliens are their own unique characters. Middleditch’s Terry is a hilarious slacker who loves human pop culture and just wants to be popular, while Giambrone’s Yumyulack is much more sadistic and loves using his advanced tech to torture humans, whereas Mack’s enthusiastic Jesse is far more compassionate. Personally the Pupa is my favourite to watch, purely for the fact it somehow went on the craziest adventures, battling various creatures along the way, with the family not really noticing it was gone! There’s also some fantastic guest cameos from Tiffany Haddish, Jason Mantzoukas, Andrew Daly and animated veteran Tom Kenny.
Possibly the most distracting however is the animation style which is pretty much the same as the Adult Swim series, even down to the same lip expression and end credits. There’s plenty of sci-fi tech and weapons which will undoubtedly please most, along with Roiland’s siganture gory set pieces. There’s also plenty of hilarious pop culture references and easter eggs dotted throughout the series (even Paddington can’t escape!), with a particularly significant cameo featured in the season finale.
If you can watch the show without comparing it to Rick and Morty, then Solar Opposites is overall a solid animated entry, boasting a talented voice cast and fun, satire misadventures. With a second season already in the works, I’m hoping the Pupa’s advancement will play more of a major role, particularly as it could prove a significant threat to the planet!