I have never seen Rick and Morty until I have to look at Rick and Morty

I have never seen Rick and Morty until I have to look at Rick and Morty.

Oh, I’ve heard it, ad nauseam. The internet will not shut up about it. Students riot because they can not get Szechuan sausage from McDonald’s because of Rick and Morty. I have had people, from strangers met on London Tube until co-workers, pulled me aside and showed me clips on their phone. I have people I trust and love to explain, in great detail, that I am a fool for not paying attention to Rick and Morty.

Later, my 13-year-old boy said he was watching her with Rick and Morty. When my wife asks me if I have ever seen Rick and Morty, all I can say is, “I heard it was perfect.” Realizing that my answer did not match the requirements of the responsible father, I sat with Boy – we always called him “the Boy” or “the Lad” – and watched an episode called “Pickle Rick.”

“Pickle Rick” is a phenomenal television episode. But Rick and Morty are not cartoons for 13-year-olds. So much violence, so much sex, so many ideas that turn violent into sex, with the help of booze and good space travel. But after I saw “Pickle Rick,” my wife asked me if I thought the Boy was allowed to watch Rick and Morty. I said, “Yes, it’s okay.”

As much as I want to protect the developing mind, 13 is about the age when a child should start exposing himself or herself to a culture that is slightly beyond their age. Think back to when you were 13: What are you watching? What do you read How much is theoretically appropriate age, and what does that mean?

I remember pretending to have a fever to stay at Sheena’s moon house, the Forest Queen is in HBO-this is back when you can sneak a bit of prowess into a PG movie, and PG movies are excellent for programming during the day. I remember my friends and I hide behind the couch watching The Exorcist. (One of us may have wet ourselves.) I remember finding Iceberg Slim’s work on my dad’s bookshelf – and I indeed did not read about life as a pimp at that age.

When I was 13 years old, video shop employees never checked IDs, so as long as you did not navigate the discotheque “adult” section, they did not care what you rent – and 1984-85 were the ornaments of the VHS exploitation blast. I see my nonsense portion of the video that I activate because the boxes promise what a teenage boy is looking for.

But I also saw The Terminator and National Lampoon’s Vacation and A Nightmare on Elm Street and Revenge of the Nerds, and This Is The Spinal Tap and Beverly Hills Cop and Christine and Flashdance and Risky Business and The Last American Virgin. I see the kind of movies that my parents must be furious to know that I’ve seen, but will ultimately determine who I am. Or, at the very least, decide what kind of pop culture consumers – and, finally, the creator – I become.

When exercising, the pain you feel comes from microtears in your muscle tissue. You push past your comfort zone and do damage – but when the muscles heal, they will recover more strongly. I think the brain works the same way: you have to push it to places that have never existed before and, hopefully, it will be stronger on the other side.

So I let Lad see Rick and Morty, laughing and wincing because this is the pain that feels. For both of us.