Almost a year to the day since we last saw Rick and Morty, the first episode of the sixth season premiered. Fans have anxiously awaited the newest installments of the show. But there are rumblings in the deep. All across television entertainment, things are turning upside down. And almost nowhere is more volatile than within the halls of Adult Swim.
The seismic shift comes from the bottom up. In April of this year, WarnerMedia and Discovery announced they finalized their merger. The joint company is now known as Warner Bros. Discovery, a name choice which hopefully is not an indication of the creative output of the new conglomerate.
These two companies collectively owned a significant part of television entertainment. Included in Warner Bros. roster was Cartoon Network, which in turn owns [adult swim]. With the new merger, [adult swim] and everything previously owned by both Warner Bros. Discovery was due for a serious overhaul.
The results were immediately apparent. Shows and movies that were in development – including entirely completed projects – were abruptly shelved. [adult swim] in particular saw its lineup change drastically. With the new owners, it seems [adult swim] will be shifting its focus away from live action and towards animation.
Rick and Morty falls into this category, a runaway success for the network. A scrappy show that is now massively popular and very, very marketable. There’s video games, product tie ins, and oh-so-much merchandise.
Still, as the show enters its sixth season, eyes are on the ratings, and so far when compared to previous ones, things are off to a rocky start. Roughly 660,000 people viewed the premiere episode – an impressive number but unfortunately the lowest of any episode of the show so far. Maybe the following episodes of season 6 will recover? However, it’s surely setting off a few alarm bells. Does this mean that Rick and Morty is losing some momentum? Most likely yes, but there’s more to it. In fact, you can pinpoint a variety of factors in this – the changing entertainment landscape, Warner Bros. Discovery’s revised business practices, streaming’s rise, fractured ratings metrics, a show just getting old, amongst them. As things change, the company will more than likely find ways to adapt with it. The results could get messy and comedy fans might have to brace themselves.
Rick and Morty may weather the storm, but the ocean they find themselves in if they make it through to the next few years will definitely look very different.