Can I get an order of sci-fi animation from Justin Roiland? Hold the existential dread.
Hulu’s Solar Opposites, streaming all of its eight-episode first season today, has a lot in common with Rick and Morty. The animation style, the humans-meet-aliens comedic throughline, Roiland’s guttural voice acting — it’s all apparent within moments of the series’ first episode. For diehard fans of the Smith family multiverse, it’s the perfect accessory to accompany five new Rick and Morty episodes coming to Adult Swim this May.
A spectacular gem worthy of its own fanbase.
But it’s the ways Solar Opposites differs from its intergalactic predecessor that make it a spectacular gem worthy of its own fanbase.
Created by Roiland and former Rick and Morty writer Mike McMahan, Solar Opposites follows four aliens from the distant planet of Shlorp. When an asteroid destroys their home, adults Korvo (Roiland) and Terry (Thomas Middleditch) flee with replicants/children Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack) in search of a new world for their species to inhabit. With them is a “pupa,” an adorable living supercomputer destined to evolve into a planet-destroying apocalypse that will make room for the new Shlorp.
Enter Earth. After crash landing in a suburban neighborhood ambiguously placed somewhere in middle America, Korvo and Terry begin the process of readying the planet for their Shlorpian compatriots. For Korvo, that means diligently working to repair the group’s ship and gathering intel on the humans. For Terry, that means making friends with carpet cleaning lexington his neighbors, enrolling Yumyulack and Jesse in high school, taking the pupa to visit labradoodles at the dog park, and otherwise enjoying the multitude of pleasures provided by domestic life.
Korvo, Terry, Yumyulack, and Jesse really like each other.
In true sitcom fashion, this Odd Couple-framing extends to the replicants. While Yumyulack is disgusted by humans, Jesse enjoys them immensely. The pair’s opposing interpretations of Earthling behavior get them into plenty of scrambles — one of which, as Jesse points out, is alarmingly similar to Jeremy Saulnier’s horror movie Green Room. Yeah, the one with all the weapon-wielding neo-Nazis.
Like Rick and Morty, the group’s adventures can get pretty dark. Unlike Rick and Morty, these obstacles don’t make their relationships especially toxic. For the most part, Korvo, Terry, Yumyulack, and Jesse seem to really like each other. Debates about what to do when the pupa turns deadly are few and far between discussions of Taco Tuesdays, jet skis, Ansel Elgort, the cultural importance of performative magic, and Terry’s sublime t-shirt collection. (Long live, “Dick Wolf.”)
Like the Belcher and Simpson families before them, these animated buddies work because of their inherent fondness for one another. Watching them hang out is just as satisfying carpet cleaning in lexington ky as the series’ exquisite action sequences — offering up an intimate Rubik’s Cube of familial discord.
Yumyulack and Jesse have a charming sibling rivalry rooted in their allegiance to one another. It’s them against the world when it’s not them against each other, and the shifting nature of that bond turns even the most mundane moments towards adventure. Meanwhile, Terry and Korvo don’t always make the nature of their dynamic clear (are they romantic partners? Professional partners? Both??), but it’s got an Aziraphale and Crowley allure to it that makes loving them inevitable.
The wholesome bedrock of Solar Opposites allows its dramatic portions to land even stronger than some of Rick and Morty‘s. A human-centric subplot — the specifics of which you deserve to see unspoiled — ties the series’ first batch of episodes together in a twisted scheme akin to “Tales from the Citadel” that requires watching the installments chronologically. Episode 7, titled “Terry and Korvo Steal A Bear,” may just be the best television I’ve seen all year.
Solar Opposites doesn’t take on the existential weight of Rick and Morty, but in my mind, it’s more enjoyable for it. Considering the state of our world, a lovable group of aliens enjoying each other’s company hits particularly well these days. It’s a welcome reprieve from the darkness of our timeline, and that of the Smith family.
That said, I must warn you: Solar Opposites ends on a cliffhanger. Hulu has already ordered eight more episodes, so we’ll eventually get answers to the questions left dangling — but it does add yet another project to our hazy understanding of entertainment’s future. Thankfully, whenever the Shlorpians do return, we can trust they’ll be in this together. (Well, maybe minus the pupa.)
Solar Opposites is now streaming on Hulu.