This dark comedy shines when it ditches the sitcom formula and follows multi-episode storylines instead. Rick and Morty have serious competition here.
This review of the Hulu series Solar Opposites season 3 does not contain any major spoilers.
Solar Opposites always seemed destined to live in the shadow of its cousin series, the universally acclaimed pop-culture phenomenon that is Rick and Morty. Both shows were co-created by Justin Roiland, with very similar styles of animation and comedy. The comparisons were inevitable, yet both shows have managed to enjoy separate successes in their own right. The Hulu original returns for a third season, hoping to build on its earlier achievements with another darkly hilarious batch of episodes, brimming with pop-culture references, meta-commentary, and intricate tangents.
The series continues the wacky misadventures of an alien family, who escaped their dying planet to start a new life in suburban America. The family are led by scientist Korvo (Justin Roiland), with his partner Terry (Thomas Middleditch), replicant siblings Jesse and Yumyulack, and not forgetting the adorable infant Pupa to round off the gang. In this season our mischievous aliens kick-start some rather banal hobbies, have fun with their ray guns, journey to Hululand (a Hulu related theme park) and go on an ill-fated vacation, constantly finding themselves in many dangerous and outlandish predicaments.
Fans will also be happy to hear that one of the show’s major draws and my favorite digression, The Wall, is also making a thankful return. This shrewd subplot centers on a shrunken society of prisoners locked inside Yumyulack’s bedroom terrarium. In the premiere, The Wall has become a utopian civilization, or so it would seem. Cherie (Christina Hendricks) plans to expose their heroic leader Tim for the monster he truly is, whilst an evil lurks in the lower levels killing off civilians.
Packed full of whimsical wordplay and self-referential nods, this is another hilarious season. The show satirizes multiple movie genres and homages an endless library of cinematic hits. As always the dialogue is fast-paced and the narrative diverts into an array of random, snaking tangents. It may not be as intellectually complex as Rick and Morty, but that isn’t necessarily a negative. Their rival show has a tendency of becoming too smart for its own good at times, whereas Solar Opposites is more low-key and conventional, sticking to sitcom resolutions and mainly one-off stories. Although, the returning plots, such as The Wall are more impactful.
Season three starts off quite slow, but regains its momentum from the fourth episode onwards. “Hululand” may be the show’s best instalment yet, subverting its own formula in true style and adding further depth to The Wall, along with “99 Ships”, which hints at a larger narrative raring to be explored. Solar Opposites clearly has the potential to rival Rick and Morty in popularity, but may just work better as the eager-to-please underdog that quietly surpasses the competition instead.
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