Rick and Mondays – S1 E2 “Lawnmower Dog”

Okay, so, I’m definitely going to keep this series going, because, shortly after publishing the first post, I won a contest from Wisecrack’s “The Squanch” podcast (which you should listen to, as both myself and my Grouchier counterpart have now both stated we like their channel). When I got back home, I found this Pickle Rick figurine waiting for me. I consider this a sign from the universe.


And yes, it’s on the sofa from which I compose these wonderful works of critical non-fiction.


Jerry is watching TV when Snuffles, the Smith family dog, comes up and gives him a begging look. Thinking that Snuffles wants to go outside, Jerry opens the door, but Snuffles instead pees on the carpet. Jerry, frustrated that the dog doesn’t understand commands, asks Rick to make the dog smarter. Rick halfheartedly warns against it, but quickly acquiesces so that he can leave with Morty. Rick puts a helmet on Snuffles which appears to make him roughly as intelligent as… I’d say a child.


Rick takes Morty to the home of his math teacher Mr. Goldenfold (Brandon Johnson). Morty has been failing math (despite the fact that it is unbelievably low-level), so Rick has decided to go inside Goldenfold’s dreams and plant the idea to give Morty an A even though he doesn’t deserve it. If that sounds like Inception, that’s because it is, and Rick is shameless about ripping it off, then takes shots at the film’s defenders, including Morty.

Inside Mr. Goldenfold’s dream, Rick and Morty find themselves on a plane, similar to the original set-up in Inception. Rick and Morty pretend to be terrorists hijacking the plane to increase Morty’s grades, but Goldenfold actually fights back, controlling the dream. The pair end up grabbing one of Goldenfold’s fantasy women, Mrs. Pancakes, (Melique Berger) from the show everyone in the Rick and Morty multiverse seems to watch, and being sucked out of the plane. Unfortunately, Goldenfold has landed the plane and built a device which will save Pancakes while killing them. To buy time, Rick and Morty enter Mrs. Pancakes’s dreams.


At the next dream level, Rick and Morty are in an S&M dungeon filled with strange creatures, as well as a heavily sexualized version of Summer. Despite Rick being immediately willing to join the interspecies orgy, he draws the line at incest (note: somehow no Game of Thrones references are made here). Unfortunately, refusing to have sex with Summer alerts the sub-subconscious that Rick and Morty don’t belong, so they knock out a Centaur and go into his dreams.

I wish they’d put him in a gimp mask so I could call him Gimp-taur. But, it’s not to be.

At this dream level, the pair are in a boiler room which looks really familiar if you love Robert Englund. It’s red, rusty, and contains a small, creepy, child chanting a rhyme about its chief inhabitant. The two are quickly attacked by Scary Terry (Jess Harnell), who is described as a “legally safe knock-off of an ’80s horror character with miniature swords for fingers instead of knives” who calls people “bitch” all the time. Rick and Morty flee to another dream level by knocking out the creepy little girl, but they find out that Scary Terry can travel between dream levels to keep chasing them. Eventually, they hide for hours until Scary Terry gives up looking for them and goes back to his house.


Meanwhile, Snuffles has been slowly gaining intelligence over the night. First, he attempts to talk to the Smiths, but can’t vocalize properly. After failing, he finds a panel in the front of the helmet which opens to reveal that only 1 of the 5 battery slots are full. Snuffles goes to the junk drawer and puts more batteries in. A little while later, Snuffles now has a mechanical arm and the helmet is able to interpret his thoughts, allowing him to speak (using Rob Paulsen’s voice). Jerry starts to take off the helmet but is stopped by Summer. Snuffles then watches a documentary on the history of dogs, builds several exo-suits and other intelligence-boosting helmets, recruits other dogs, and then confronts Summer and the Smiths over the treatment of dogs by humans… specifically their taking of his testicles. Snuffles, now calling himself Snowball, reveals that he plans to turn the tables on humanity.


Back in the sub-sub-sub-subconscious of Mr. Goldenfold, Rick and Morty follow Scary Terry back home where he lives with his wife Scary Melissa (Berger) and infant son Scary Brandon. That night, they go into Scary Terry’s dream… only to find that it’s just Scary Terry being mocked at school for not knowing the answers to pop quiz questions and forgetting to wear pants to class. Rick and Morty stand up for him in his dream, befriending him. When Scary Terry awakens, he has been incepted into being friends with them, resulting in him carrying them back through all the dream levels as a favor, finally incepting Goldenfold to give Morty an A in math.

Rick and Morty return home to find that there is a small army of dogs planning to take over humanity stockpiling weapons at the house. When Morty asks what happened, Rick casually outlines what we saw happen, while still saying he doesn’t know for sure. The two rescue the Smiths, but Jerry gets everyone captured again by thinking that he could pee on the weapons to make them his property. This is a plan so unbelievably dumb that it actually justifies how Morty could fail math despite being Rick’s grandson.

The dogs are shown conquering the world and reducing humanity to secondary status with the exception of Morty, who is treated as Snowball’s prized pet and given women and luxury. Rick reappears, supposedly a year later, and reveals that this is all a dream from the first night. Rick has gone into Snowball’s head with Morty, and dream time combined with dog time has allowed a night to become a year (though, if you do the math, it should actually be about 6 months). Rick poisons Morty, which leads to Snowball realizing that doing to humanity what humanity did to dogs makes them just as bad. Snowball awakens and leads the dogs off planet to form a Dog World.

I guess all the animal shelters are for cats now.


No matter how many times I see this episode, it just never sticks out in my mind, but every time I re-watch it, I find myself laughing my ass off.

First, the references. The title’s a reference to The Lawnmower Man, about a scientist who increases a mentally handicapped man’s intellect to the point that he becomes cruel and ambitious, which is basically the plot of Snuffles’s story. They openly state the dream-jumping is from Inception and all-but-state that Scary Terry is Freddy Krueger. Snuffles’s new name of Snowball is a reference to Animal Farm, a story about animals overthrowing humans and something covered on this site before.

Scary Terry is one of my favorite parts of this episode. First, I love his design, since, rather than the burn-victim look of Freddy Krueger, Scary Terry appears to be made of purple testicle skin, which is somehow more off-putting. Second, the fact that he has a very boring and typical homelife when he isn’t terrifying and murdering people in their dreams is hilarious. Third, after watching this, whenever you watch the later Nightmare on Elm Street movies, it becomes so much more obvious HOW OFTEN Freddy says Bitch. It’s interesting that it seems to increase as the series got more ridiculous, almost like “Bitch” just provides an easy thing to call someone… which is why that’s Terry’s answer when caught off-guard in his nightmare. Which brings me to the last reason I love him: Scary Terry’s nightmares are the things that everyone has a nightmare of at some point, getting embarrassed in school, even years after you’ve graduated in real life. Compared to the kind of over-the-top craziness that usually defines the nightmares in the Elm Street franchise, this is just a freaking hilarious juxtaposition.


I also love that they parodied Krueger’s signature “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you” song, but this one goes way past the 5 verses that Freddy uses. We see it getting to Q and R with no sign of it stopping.

One of my other favorite parts of the episode is that none of the Smiths actually consider the implications of granting Snuffles intelligence, even though Rick warns them about it. The closest we come is Summer saying that it’s wrong to “endow a creature with sentience and then rip it away,” but when pressed about why, she just says it’s “Indian giving.” Beth actually points out that it’s not going to go well but does nothing about it. Despite all of the media about this exact situation, including the film that gives this episode its title, not one of them bothers to consider it. As someone who writes about pop-culture, this is a frustrating accuracy about people: Despite a concept being addressed in fiction repeatedly, no one ever actually relates it to their situation… which massively undermines the entire point of good fiction. Still, it was funny for the warning signs to be so over-the-top and yet completely ignored here.

Yeah, this is the point where you stop giving the dog batteries, guys.



I have a weird theory that Rick actually planned for everything with Snuffles to play out pretty much as it did. See, when Jerry confronts Rick about the dog, Rick goes to the garage and comes back with the helmet. It seems like it was specifically made by Rick in that 30 seconds or so, rather than something that Rick just had sitting around. I say that because Jerry suggests that Rick “whip up” something and Rick doesn’t correct him, as well as because the helmet perfectly fits Snuffles.

If Rick made the helmet for this situation, though, why did he put 5 battery slots in it? And why put them in a place that the dog could put the batteries in? He clearly knew how smart Jerry would want Snuffles to be and Rick already stated that making Snuffles smarter than that would be a thread Jerry wouldn’t want to pull. It seems like a weird flaw to over-design the helmet like that, especially for someone of Rick’s intelligence who was in a hurry.

And it already had a output ports for thought to voice transmissions.

Well, that’s because Rick wanted Snuffles to find the extra battery slots. Rick knew that the Smiths would abuse Snuffles’s new intelligence (such as Summer making him her footstool) and wouldn’t try to figure out what he wanted when he tried to talk to them. So, Rick figured that Snuffles would try to increase the helmet’s power and gave him a simple way to do it. After that, it was basically inevitable that Snuffles would realize that dogs have been mistreated by humanity (he doesn’t have testicles, after all), and stage a revolt that would result in the imprisonment of the Smiths. That’s why he immediately and dispassionately recites a summary of what happened in the episode when they return: Because he set the events in motion that led to it.

So, why would Rick do this? Well, because A) he’s Rick and B) Jerry was annoying him. Jerry was basically threatening Rick into using his god-like science wizardry, so Rick decided to go ahead and cut that off by satisfying Jerry’s wish in such a way that he would never ask him to do it again. And I’m pretty sure it works, since I can’t think of another time Jerry asks Rick to make something in the series.

On the Meta-level, I think it’s also possible Rick did this just so he could end the episode with a pitch for Justin Roiland’s failed series idea “Dog World,” which is why Rick even calls Snuffles “Ruffles,” the name of the Dog World lead character, at the beginning of the episode. He was setting this up even then as a fallback for if the show gets cancelled. After all, this was only episode 2.

Overall, I give this episode a


on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Rick and Mondays – S1 E1 “Pilot”

Welcome to Rick and Mondays. This will be bi-weekly for now, until I get a bigger buffer built up next month (hopefully). Rick and Morty and Futurama ended up tying in the vote for the next series to do, then Futurama won the run-off, so Futurama Fridays will commence after Firefly Fridays ends, and Rick and Mondays will run in the meantime. If I keep it at bi-weekly, it should end about the time that there are finally new episodes of Rick and Morty.



This is where it all began and, fittingly for a show that exists to subvert sci-fi and television tropes, it starts off with a massive subversion with introducing us to Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) as our pretty much ultimate anti-hero by having him break into his sleeping grandson’s, Morty Smith’s (Roiland), room and abduct him. Rick, who is super hammered, shows Morty his new flying car that he built with stuff from the garage and tells him that he has decided that the Earth needs a “fresh start.” So, he built a neutrino bomb which will kill off all of humanity, leaving Morty and the girl he likes from math class, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), to repopulate humanity. Morty takes the wheel and forces the car down. Rick, upon landing, tells Morty what appears to be an obvious lie that the whole thing was just a test to make Morty more assertive, then passes out… as the neutrino bomb starts to arm itself. The title sequence prevents us from finding out if the bomb actually goes off, since, in retrospect, this could just be a completely different Rick and Morty than Rick and Morty C-137, who most of the series follows.


The next morning, or just a morning in a completely different universe, Morty passes out in his breakfast. His sister, Summer (Spencer Grammer), immediately rats him out for spending his nights out with Rick. His parents, Jerry and Beth (Chris Parnell and Sarah “The First Becky of our hearts” Chalke), both are angry about this, which Rick tries to ignore while claiming that school’s not a place for smart people. Jerry blames Rick for hurting Morty’s chances of advancement and wants him to move out, but Beth’s anger is quickly suppressed when Rick pays her a minor compliment about the breakfast. This pretty much leads to the subject being dropped.


At school, Morty falls asleep during a math test (and molests his teacher while unconscious), before being assaulted by a bully. Rick appears out of nowhere and freezes the bully, pulling Morty through a portal to help him run an errand in another dimension. After they leave, Summer accidentally causes the bully to fall over and shatter, killing him.

Rick and Morty end up in Dimension 35-C which is home to the Mega Trees which produce Mega Fruits that have Mega Seeds that Rick needs “for his research,” which he consistently refuses to clarify further. Rick and Morty get chased by monsters, cross phallic, testicular, and yonic landscapes, and finally arrive at a cliff above a valley of the Mega Trees. Rick gives Morty a set of grappling shoes to get down the cliff, but doesn’t tell Morty that he has to turn them on, causing Morty to fall down the cliff and break both of his legs. Rick goes through the portal to another dimension that has instant broken-leg-fixing serum. Morty gets the Mega Fruit, but Rick explains that the dimension with the serum had stopped the aging process, so Rick, being old, was basically a celebrity, resulting in him spending a lot of time there getting laid. So much time that his portal gun is now out of charge and they’ll have to return through interdimensional customs.


Meanwhile, Jerry and Beth have been arguing about Jerry’s desire to put Rick in a retirement home. Jerry says that Morty is failing school, but Beth counters that Morty was always failing, but at least now he has a friend. The idea that, maybe, either of his parents should help him work on school is never addressed, because these two are the f*cking worst. The two are called into the school by Principal Vagina (Phil Hendrie), who informs them that Morty has been absent frequently (only attending school for a few hours a month), almost always signed out by Rick, who also has been hiding the messages from the school to the Smith family. Jerry uses this as evidence that Rick is negatively impacting Morty’s life, seemingly winning the argument.

At interdimensional customs, Morty has to hide the seeds way up in his butt so that they won’t be confiscated. Rick’s anus, through years of smuggling and experimentation, has lost its elasticity, rendering him unable to carry the goods (or so he says, at least). This is quickly rendered pointless by a new machine at customs that can detect stuff way up people’s butts. Rick grabs Morty and makes a break for it, eventually finding a portal. While Rick enters the coordinates, Morty defends them from security, killing a guard. Rick and Morty jump through the portal, landing right in front of Jessica, but immediately running into Beth, Jerry, and Principal Vagina.

WAAAY up the butt. Like, a colonoscopy turns to dentistry far.

Jerry and Beth confront Rick, telling him he has to move out, but Rick has Morty demonstrate an aptitude towards math and science which Rick claims can only be expanded through adventuring together. Beth and Jerry agree to let them go together, believing it to be the only way that Morty will have a successful future. However, it turns out that the entire demonstration was just a side-effect of the seeds up Morty’s ass dissolving, leading to the second side effect where Morty’s motor skills and brain functions become uncontrollable. Rick ends the episode saying that there will be 100 years of Rick and Morty.

Let’s hope they’re right. 100 Episodes is a good start, though.


Well, that’s the first episode. This was our first glimpse into the world of Rick and Morty, and it’s not half bad. Since I’ve got an entire series worth of episodes to address themes, I’m just going to cover the one that I think is most represented in this episode: Rick’s rampant hatred of bureaucracy/government.

First, the episode literally starts with Rick, or at least A Rick, deciding that Earth civilization is now so messed up that killing everyone is the best solution. Granted, he’s drunk, but that’s a pretty strong statement on Rick’s opinion on society that omnicide is preferable to dealing with it. His plan isn’t so great, either, since he only wants to save Morty and Jessica, which would lead to a lot of awkwardness and a lot more inbreeding.

Next, we have Rick’s statement that school isn’t a place for smart people. He basically says that the problem with school is that, while you’re in school, you’re essentially controlled by the rules of the school and all to learn only what the school wants you to, in exchange for a “piece of paper that says you can go take a dump or something.” This is actually justified a little more when we see Morty’s math class, where he’s literally being taught addition in high school. If you look at the sheet, there are only 6 questions, the answer to 4 of which are just 10. And this doesn’t appear to be a remedial class. And it’s not like the staff actually appears to care a ton about education. Mr. Goldenfold (Brandon Johnson) literally teaches the same lessons over and over again and the principal of the school doesn’t seem to care enough about a student only attending class 7 hours a month to make sure his parents are aware of it. Also, the principal appears to be trying to invoke a race riot by spontaneously stating that the frozen bully wasn’t killed by a “Latino” student (although, Rick’s name is Sanchez, so, maybe the kid was).

The math on the blackboard isn’t even right.

Last, we have the less justified opinion of Rick’s when he tells Morty to kill the guards at customs because “they’re just robots.” When Morty shoots one of them, he screams in pain, one of the other guards yells that he’s bleeding to death, and that someone needs to call his wife and children. Rick then explains that “it’s a figure of speech,” and that they’re bureaucrats, so he doesn’t respect them. This is probably one of the more horrifying positions that Rick takes in the episode, even compared to his attempt to eliminate all of humanity: Bureaucrats aren’t people. It’s not just Rick’s normal nihilism speaking, this is almost a hyper-objectivist viewpoint that a person isn’t a person unless they’re fully flexing their individual rights and respecting the supreme individuality of others. Rick’s conflicts with the massively bureaucratic Federation throughout the series is summarized by Rick as “they think they control the Galaxy, [Rick] disagree[s].” In contrast, Jerry is amazingly successful when the Federation controls Earth, despite the fact that he never actually knows what his job is.


This later gets re-enforced with Rick C-137’s opinion on the Council of Ricks, since they’re a group that formed to fight the government by becoming a government. When the Citadel gets re-addressed in season 3, we find out the citadel’s structure is even more bizarrely anti-Rick, because it has a massive class divide that suppresses some Ricks and Mortys despite the fact that the lower-class Ricks are LITERALLY EXACTLY AS SMART AS THEIR BOSSES.

Something that leads a group of geniuses to elect an evil sociopath president.

The show puts forth an interesting position on this by not really making a strong case either for or against Rick’s viewpoint. On the one hand, the schools do suck, the Federation basically just takes over planets and tries to steal whatever relevant technology has been developed rather than developing their own, and the Citadel of Ricks literally markets freedom as a wafer rather than, you know, having freedom. On the other hand, Rick is a mass-murderer who contributes nothing of value to society and abuses or mentally breaks everyone he comes in contact with, often for his own amusement. He’s literally all of the things that society is formed to prevent, and he only is able to continue to do any of it because he’s the smartest being in an infinite multiverse. So, he’s Andrew Ryan from BioShock with access to even crazier levels of technology and less concern for the welfare of others. Morty even says that Rick’s like Hitler, but at least Hitler cared about “Germany or something.”  So, yeah, Rick’s freedom is pretty awesome, assuming that you’re Rick. If you’re an occupant of one of the planets he destroys while drunk, not so much. And you’re not Rick, I guaran-f*cking-tee it.



So, for the record, I think the Neutrino Bomb is an interesting concept. A neutrino is a subatomic particle that only interacts with the weak nuclear force and gravity (here’s a Ted-Ed on Neutrinos). Since gravity doesn’t really mean anything at that scale (smaller than a proton), the weak interaction has to be how Rick plans on killing everyone. I’m not the only one to speculate on this, I’m sure, but the main way that a neutrino could probably kill someone is by having the neutrino hit a neutron, causing beta decay turning it into a proton, and causing it to eject an electron which can cause radiation damage to most living beings.


The problem is that neutrinos don’t like to do this, and it’s only because the sun is putting out a sh*t ton (technical term) of them that we ever get a single reaction we can measure. So, for Rick to kill everything on Earth, he’d need many orders of magnitude more than the sun puts out. I don’t want to do the math, but I’m gonna guess it’s in the quintillions to septillions of suns. Now, at this point, you might think that this makes this just a sci-fi term that you can add to a regular word to make it sound Star Trek enough to get by, but I refuse to accept that, because this is Rick F*cking Sanchez, and Rick isn’t going to play that. Rick probably knows that neutrinos are more likely to interact with matter when they have a higher energy. So, my proposal is that Rick has somehow figured out how to put more energy into Neutrinos than even a supernova burst, increasing the odds that they’ll interact with matter to the point that he can reliably kill an entire planet… or a solar system if he just “eyeballs” it. He claimed to be able to turn a black hole into a sun, so I doubt this is beyond him. It’s a pretty good way to get rid of life without ruining the planet itself, honestly, if there was any way to do it that didn’t require producing a solar-system sized fusion reaction. But Rick made a universe on his own just to power his car, so, again, Rick probably can pull it off.

Overall, I give this episode a B on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

A is for Adventure Time and Abe Lincoln: A PRIMER ON LEADERSHIP (Part 6)

Read PART 1 here, PART 2 here, PART 3 here, PART 4 here, and PART 5 here.

Part 6: Marcus Aurelius and The Guide to Picking a Good Leader

A good leader is not something that can be nailed down. It depends a lot on the state of the world and the state of the nation being governed within it. But, in general, here are the 7 things you need to focus on when picking a leader, in order of importance:

Like the 7 virtues, but easier to gauge

1) Empathy

It may seem counter-intuitive, since we tend to favor aggressive leaders (check out Part 5), but, as explained in Part 2, a great leader is going to need to be able to realize the full impact of their decisions, and a key part of that is going to be to see the indirect impacts. Additionally, empathy allows for better diplomatic relations, as well as more humane treatment of enemies. As pointed out in Part 3, those tend to minimize the fallout from negative interactions.

2) Knowledge

They knew the truth.

This isn’t to be confused with intelligence or wisdom. Intelligence is the ability to quickly process information into knowledge and apply it. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge effectively. Knowledge is the pool of information from which you draw experience in order to make decisions. Intelligence without knowledge is just quickly running in the wrong direction. Wisdom without knowledge is just making the best decision based on limited information. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t also prioritize wisdom and intelligence, but knowledge is the best metric for a leader. Having little knowledge is dangerous. Having a lot of knowledge means that you’re likely to have knowledge about how little knowledge you have.

Subsets of knowledge to focus on:

History is the most important thing for a leader to know because history teaches us what’s already been tried, what worked, and what failed.

Note: ACTUAL history only, and being on the History Channel isn’t enough.

Philosophy would be next, because it tends to involve both ethical introspection as well as re-consideration of established viewpoints.

Science follows, because science requires study, logic, and the scientific method is the closest thing humanity has to finding truth. Also, only real sciences, no social sciences, those are below.

Despite XKCD’s opinions, Mathematics isn’t as useful for this category.

The Law is next, because it forms the basis of our system, even though it is malleable and should be changed as society changes.

The remaining Humanities are next, including language, literature, art, religion, and music, because they inherently grow empathy within the learner.

AisFor6EconomicsAnd then there’s Economics, because, while it is almost entirely bullshit and every macroeconomics model should be labeled a lie, you still need to know how tariffs and trade agreements work, at least enough to know when they will be massive failures. Economics is like the weather service: They can’t really predict what’s going to happen for sure, but they can get the general trends right enough to tell you the range of things that’ll happen, and that’s useful over the long-term.

3) Ethics

I don’t mean that they should follow any particular ethical model, but they must be ethically consistent. Hypocrisy, if it occurs, should be addressed, not denied, and should be discussed until either it is resolved or justified. You need a person you can rely on to follow their principles more than you need a person whose principles completely mirror yours.

4) Selflessness

Yeah, you’d think this’d be higher, but this often derives from the prior three. A leader should be for their people, not themselves. This isn’t to say that a leader cannot help themselves while helping others, in fact that’s part of trying to advance society, but if you see a person advocating for an act that gives them a primary boon, be suspicious. If you see them advocating for an act that would affect them negatively in the name of helping others, be more open to it. Basically, don’t trust someone’s tax plan outright if it’s mostly going to help their bracket. It might still be a good act but dig into it more.

… I’d still vote for him.

5) Conviction

While you need someone who can adapt a plan to new information and to changing times, you also need someone who’s going to not be hung up on every new problem that’s impacting their vision. If you know for sure that you need a bridge, you want someone whose response to issues with construction aren’t “oh, no, will it happen,” but “okay, find a way to make it work.” Of course, you also want someone who will know enough to have done the cost/benefit of the bridge before they start, but that’s covered above.

6) Charisma

Despite the fact that most examples of the worst leaders of all time were so charismatic they created personality cults around them (Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Rodrigo Duterte), it’s still important to note that you aren’t a leader if people aren’t going to follow you. If you’re not willing to figure out how to convey your message in a more relatable way, you’re failing. I realize the irony of writing that as part of a long treatise that would be too long in 1800, but f*ck you, I’ll make a YouTube video of it with an animated Aardvark if I run for office. Also, you can substitute charisma for having charismatic people represent you, but that just doesn’t build as strong of a connection.

Although, not all good images are based on good people. 

7) Vision

If you’re leading, you need to know where you’re leading. You need to tell people what it is you want them to have, and why they need to have it.  Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years looking, but he only got away with that because he had GOD backing him.* You can’t just say “wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t have to eat a guy’s finger in the occasional tin of meat,” you have to be Teddy Roosevelt saying “F*ck all these companies and their lack of decency, if you pressure your legislators, the Food and Drug Administration’s gonna be on their ass, keeping fingers out of your sh*t.” Yes, that’s a direct quote, but he added “Bully.” Also, you can only lead forward, not back. Look at the Luddites, at Augustus’s attempts to return Rome’s old morality, the Turner Controversy, and pretty much every race riot started by the dominant race to see why it doesn’t ever work out well to try and recapture the glory of the past.

There were a ton of these on sites about “leadership” that encourage psychopathy.

These aren’t a full list, obviously, but remember: The candidate is more important than the issues. If you have a good candidate, then you can trust that they’ll evaluate the issues more than you have. If you have a bad one, you have to watch their every move.

And since I needed an A, I’ll end with a few quotes from what I think was one of the best unintentional guides to becoming a good leader, and person, ever, written by Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations. Aurelius was called the last of the Five Good Emperors (though that doesn’t mean exactly what it sounds like) and, by Roman standards and probably even some more recent ones, lived up to the modern meaning of that title until his son took over. Meditations is primarily a collection of thoughts on Stoicism, but, while I don’t completely agree with all of the points on stoicism, some of them truly do make for good leadership traits.

  • On not lashing out at petty problems: If you are grieved about anything external, ’tis not the thing itself that afflicts you, but your judgment about it; and it is in your power to correct this judgment and get quit of it.

  • On empathy towards other opinions: When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.

  • On remembering that the Truth is always a higher power and a higher allegiance: All things are interwoven with one another; a sacred bond unites them; there is scarcely one thing that is isolated from another. Everything is coordinated, everything works together in giving form to one universe. The world-order is a unity made up of multiplicity: God is one, pervading all things; all being is one, all law is one (namely, the common reason which all thinking persons possess) and all truth is one—if, as we believe, there can be but one path to perfection for beings that are alike in kind and reason.

  • On the necessity of correction: Be thou erect, or be made erect. (It really means “either show yourself as being your best self, or as someone who has been corrected to be their best self,” but I think this version is funniest).

  • On self-governance: Put an end once for all to this discussion of what a good man should be, and be one.

(Yeah, I’m working on it, you long-dead a**hole).

Final Thoughts:

You know what really makes the best leaders? The best followers, all ready to continue the work should the leader fall. But what we really need is an engaged population, who are all willing to work to try and get the best people in there. It’s especially important to look at smaller elections that represent people trying to enter the system. It’s counter-intuitive, since we associate bigger elections with bigger decisions, but those candidates typically have worked their way up there. If they seem to all be bad, it’s because we didn’t help promote the better candidates at the lower levels. So, help a candidate for mayor out, run for an office yourself, and F*CKING VOTE. You might think an election is between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, but they are never equal. One is always, in some way, a little better than the other, and you need to get your ass out there and make sure the lesser of two evils keeps winning, so that, eventually, you will encourage a real, good, honest candidate to get the office (and might be running at the same time for a lower office).

This episode was about why you HAVE to vote.

And, lastly, hold your leaders accountable, especially those you most closely identify as your own. You can complain about the other side’s leadership all you want, but hypocrisy is the number one destroyer of credibility. Not to get too Biblical, but there’s some sh*t about removing the beam from your own eye before pointing out the mote in another’s, and it applies just as much if you’ve got the mote and they’ve got the beam. Get the mote out, and then talk about the beam. You don’t need to lower the bar so that you can get someone you like, you need to raise it to challenge people to meet it.

Thanks for reading, especially the one who sent the Joker messages about this being “liberal bullshit.” You’re my favorite.

Welcome to the Grouch on the Couch’s ABCs. This will be a monthly series until I can get a rhythm going… and figure out all of the letters. F*ck you, you try finding 26 topics connected by letters.

For some other work by the Grouch on the Couch, check out my reviews. If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

*And so that a generation of people could die, because they would be the last Jews to experience hardshoh wow they messed up that call.

Credits on graphics to XKCD, SMBC, the History Channel, and South Park

Author Bonus: 26a) Rixty Minutes (Rick and Morty)

Okay, this is the third of the add-on episodes. Oddly, most of them are animated. I don’t know if that’s because lately animated shows are able to take more risks than live-action, or because, like in the case of WestWorld and Mr. Robot, that live-action shows that have insanely high quality are so invested in serialization that it keeps any one episode from standing out enough to be noticeable or distinctly memorable. But, whatever the reason, the animations tended to stick out.

Rick and Morty is a show about the futility of existence and other nihilist stuff most shows would consider impossible to joke about. Rick (Justin Roiland) is a super-genius on a scale that surpasses most portrayals in fiction. Rick is often called a god, because he can basically do anything. He travels between alternate universes, creates sentient life to power his car battery, destroyed planetary, galactic, and interdimensional order because they annoyed him, and even turns himself into a pickle just to show that he can… and also to get out of going to family therapy. Morty (Roiland) is his grandson, whose role in their adventures varies over the course of the series, from unwilling participant to instigator.

Rick made a planet believe this means “peace among worlds.” Morty is unsurprised.

Rick believes that nothing means anything, and, in his case, he’s completely justified. Usually, when a character has that kind of attitude, it arises out of a religious nihilism. In Rick’s case, though, it’s different, because it arises from the fact that he has seen that there are infinite alternate worlds and infinite versions of himself, meaning that everything he ever does is being done in another world at the same time, or that he’s only doing it because another version of him is doing the opposite. Nothing matters because everything happens. Because of this, Rick is a miserable jerk most of the time, an alcoholic on a cosmic scale, and arguably out-eviled the devil through science. The last is not a metaphor, he actually drove the devil to suicidal depression through rendering him obsolete. Prior to this episode in the series, he and Morty wreck their version of the world and move to a different universe to replace the deceased Rick and Morty there, abandoning the rest of their family (not particularly caring if the others live or die).


Some people will probably be angry because they don’t think this is the best episode of Rick and Morty. Much like my entry of the Office, I can only say, this is not my favorite episode of Rick and Morty, but it is the one that I think distinguishes the show the most for two reasons.

This is what happens when you have a lot of weed and a lot of genius in one booth.

First, most of the episode is improvised. The premise is that Rick upgrades the family’s TV to get channels from every dimension, meaning that they can see things such as “Showtime in a world where corn evolved instead of humans.” However, all of the programming, with limited exception, was improvised by series creator Justin Roiland, mostly while he was stoned. Even when other actors were asked to do the voices, they were told to copy everything about the way that Roiland had spoken. I consider this to be an extremely weird, but brilliant, way to do this episode, because it seems like ad-libbing both produces the absurd kind of things that one might encounter by looking through infinite realities, and also because it makes the interdimensional content very distinct from the show itself, confirming that they’re not in the same universe. Some people might not enjoy it, and maybe not all of the sketches are gold, but it at least sets it apart.

RickAndMortySummer.jpgSecond, and most important, is the B-plot. At the beginning of the episode, Morty’s dad Jerry (Chris Parnell) sees a version of himself who is a celebrated actor, and decides he wants to see other realities where he has a different life. Similarly, his wife, Beth (Sarah Chalke), and daughter, Summer (Spencer Grammer), want to see other universes where they have lived their dreams. During the course of this, Beth and Jerry accidentally reveal that Summer was an unwanted pregnancy, and that most or all of Beth’s and Jerry’s dream realities are where they broke up after having her aborted. This shakes Beth and Jerry over the fact that their marriage definitely kept them from achieving their dreams, and Summer over the fact that her entire existence was not just the result of a mistake, but one that she can confirm ruined her parents’ lives. Yeah, not the happiest moment in TV history.

Morty shows Summer his grave

Summer decides to leave the family, and Morty confronts her. She at first says that he can’t understand because, as the second child, he wasn’t the cause of her parents’ pain, only a biproduct of it. Morty responds by telling her that he’s not really her brother, that her brother is dead and buried in the yard, and that he’s a version of her brother who can tell her not to run and she’ll know it’s sincere. He then delivers 13 of the greatest words in the history of anything.

Nobody exists on purpose.
Nobody belongs anywhere.
Everybody’s gonna die.
Come watch TV?

I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve read a lot of philosophy. I’ve read the core texts of most religions, and I subscribe to one or two. I’ve been sick on a hospital bed waiting to die. But, despite all of that, I believe that I have never seen anything summarize the human condition as well as Morty does in this episode.

Morty straight up tells everyone that, despite the fact that he’s realized the futility of existence, he doesn’t care. He chooses to be happy anyway, by just enjoying what he has. Depending on your perspective, this arguably makes him better than Rick, because Rick is a miserable human being, whereas Morty can actually find enjoyment in aspects of life.

Rick insists that his unhappiness is because when you’re smart, the universe is yours, and the universe is not going to like it. It’s going to fight your desire to control or comprehend it. However, really, despite the fact that Rick has seen things that no otherDon't think about it human has seen, done things no other humans have, or even can, do, he isn’t able to grasp the idea of just being happy by embracing futility and moving on anyway, because it requires accepting that he’s responsible for his own happiness. He constantly says that the key is NOT to think about it, but that’s wrong. You don’t have to try not to think about it, because trying to avoid thinking about it is still refusing acceptance.

Many of the episodes on this list deal with the idea of facing your mortality or the void at the end of existence. Some involve turning to God, some involve denying mortality, some involve just accepting that you’re gonna die, but this one nails it hardest. Whatever is true doesn’t matter. You get to exist. That alone is something to enjoy. Be happy anyway.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Watch Rick and Morty on Adult Swim’s website. Give them revenue, jerks.