According to the creators of Adult Swim’s new series “Rick and Morty,” neither of the show’s title characters is actually their favorite one on the show. Instead, the 10-episode first season develops one of the secondary characters into someone who Justin Roiland says is his preferred person to write to.
While characters Rick, Morty, Jerry and Beth all have their charms, it’s Morty’s older sister Summer who really won over Roiland and Dan Harmon. Voiced by “Greek” alum Spencer Grammer, the character blossoms from the one-note person in the pilot into someone much more integral to the series’ heart.
Roiland says Grammer’s performance really informed who Summer turned into. After hearing Grammer’s radio plays as Summer, the writer’s room realized how much they could do with the character.
“I love the sister character, and it’s crazy because I didn’t want a sister to begin with. She’s probably my favorite character in the show, just because she’s real,” he tells Zap2it.
Just because she’s “real” doesn’t mean they don’t take risks with Summer. In the second episode of the season, Morty and Rick stumble across a lingerie-clad version of Summer in an alternate reality.
“We beat 4chan to their own game. 4chan is famous for drawing completely inappropriate versions of female cartoon characters. It’s so funny to me that we beat them to it, and it’s not even real. [The moment] was a dream,” Roiland says. “But that’s not why I like her, because we totally objectified her and stuff. I just love the character. As the season went on we discovered who she was.”
Grammer was surprised when Zap2it told her how much Roiland and Harmon gushed over her character. She sees Summer as embodying all teens, and she says she knew exactly the character she was trying to create going into the show.
“I think she represents all crazy teenagers. Like when you’re young, you believe everything so wholeheartedly that it’s just the most amazing thing or the worst thing or life, it’s just so tragic and comedic all at the same time,” she says. “I had a very specific idea of who I was playing and what I wanted to do with her.”
Harmon says he enjoys having Summer as someone who will call out Rick, since that’s something Morty would never do.
“She calls Rick out on his lack of empathy more than Morty does,” he says. “Rick is somewhat of a misogynist as it turns out, so Summer was an easy character to use to establish that. Like, ‘Why can’t I go on one of your adventures?’ and Rick’s answer is basically, ‘Because you’re a girl.’ And he gets proven wrong in that episode, which he never gets proven wrong with Morty.”
“Rick and Morty” is rated TV-14, and Roiland says they’re going for a “very broad target audience.” His ideal reality is for the Adult Swim show to bring in female viewers, and he thinks having a character like Summer will help with that.
For Grammer, she says it’s her bossy and opinionated side that shines through in Summer. “That probably came across when I talked to them at some point,” she says of the showrunners. “And that definitely comes across to Rick. I definitely stand up to him more as a character.”
“Rick and Morty” premieres on Adult Swim on Dec. 2 at 10:30 p.m.