This Animated Comedy Continues To Succeed By Doubling Down On Compelling B-Plot And Gay Leads

This third season, where the show is reinforcing its identity and capability as a comedy, smartly and succinctly tackles so many important concepts. The list is long: existentialism, bravery, difficult choices, jealousy, modern consumerism and online culture, redemption, liberation, and post-traumatic stress. Similar to its older brother “Rick and Morty,” the series shines a light on the difficult ideas via pop culture, an always-palatable way to streamline the path to audience catharsis. Reusing the “Princess Bride” storytelling concept framing device, quote-unquote “ripping off Thanos,” namedropping Green Lantern, bringing Malcolm Gladwell in as a guest star, even the ever-pervasive stereotype that Taco Bell makes you crap your pants all night. All of these set pieces are used in service of a greater concept, a bigger-picture idea that the show is forcing you to confront, even if it’s just your agreement that Taco Bell can be rough on the tummy. No matter how silly the joke, this show continues to be good at proving that it can use topical moments to cement its emotional motive into the viewer’s mind. No surprises there, since the show comes from some of the brains on “Rick and Morty,” which also does a great job performing the same type of emotional legwork.

By the end of the season, the family has truly become a human unit, ditching all their sci-fi ways out of necessity — and, actually, out of love (you’ll see why when you give it a watch). It’s a fun way to leave these characters after eleven episodes of hijinks, or really, three full seasons of hijinks. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it certainly will hook fans for the next season. But speaking of love, that is perhaps the overarching concept that the season is anchored on, one that it explores the best and most fully. The fivesome has to build true familial love and bond with one another over the course of the season, and the slow burn there is really rewarding. But the show is finally leaning into Korvo and Terry’s romantic relationship, and that is even more satisfying. “Solar Opposites” was big on lightly hinting and alluding to a gay relationship between the two patriarchal aliens, but wasn’t too keen on confirming any speculation with canonical evidence of the pairing throughout the first two seasons. This season, however, is a bit of a gay bonanza, with many direct references to Kerry/Torvo (pick your poison, I like Torvo) and generally wild gay set pieces scattered throughout. Aside from being ridiculously fulfilling after a bunch of are-they-aren’t-they, it also adds to the human element of this season. Not only are these characters coming into the less exciting parts of humanity, but they’re also finally opening to experiencing one of the best things being human has to offer.

“Solar Opposites” has established itself as a spicy animated situational comedy that pulls from the best parts of its predecessor, “Rick and Morty,” yet doesn’t get stuck looking for its place outside of the Adult Swim hit’s shadow. The show is self-assured with a unique vibe and tone all its own, and that continues to shine in the third season. By leaning into the more human elements of what the series has to offer — both the base exploration of those concepts with the aliens and the desperate attempt at a reclamation from the wall people — season 3 of “Solar Opposites” reminds us that clever structure can give way to everything else you love about a story: clever writing, brash jokes, and pure cathartic connective tissue.

“Solar Opposites” season 3 hits Hulu on July 13, 2022.

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