The Disturbing Nature of Mr Meeseeks and Why I Find it Hard to Watch
Let me start by declaring SPOILER WARNING for Rick and Morty Season 1: Episode 5 ‘Meeseeks and Destroy’.
Okay no we have that out of the way let’s get down to business. Rick and Morty is an excellent animated show for us adults following the misadventures of an genius alcoholic scientist, Rick and his easily manipulated and impressionable grandson Morty. Splitting the stories between their outlandish adventures through the cosmos and alternative dimensions, and their family life living with Morty’s parents and sister, Rick and Morty has quickly gathered a huge fan-base and critical acclaim and rightly so. It is brilliant.
Packed full of adult humour, clever story-lines and ambitious science fiction you will enjoy the crazy, somewhat shocking subject matter and hilarious adventures. There are emotionally meaningful moments and sad times and then there is episode 5.
In ‘Meeseeks and Destroy’ Rick gives a Meeseeks Box to his son in law Jerry. This cube spawns helpful blue creatures called Mr Meeseeks, their sole purpose to complete a task and blink out of existence – they are happy to die. Beginning each sentence with cheerful “I’m Mr. Meeseeks! Look at me!” these guys are friendly and willing to help those who summoned them – unless of course they can’t complete the task assigned. When Jerry asks his to knock two strokes off his golf game so begins the Mr Meeseeks spiral into murderous insanity, with Mr Meeseeks summoning more of his kind to help him but none being able to complete the task.
I find this episode one of the most disturbing things I have watched. I’ve seen it twice and both times it ended I felt despair and my soul ached. But I’m a grown up, I know it’s a cartoon, so what is it about these creatures that I find so very disturbing?
Mr Meeseeks’ whole purpose focusses on completing a task and dying. That is their only goal in their short life and, as we find out, to be alive is pain. To end this creatures suffering, the only way is for them to find peace, is to achieve the goal they were created for, so what happens when this takes far longer than they’re used to? Well, insanity, violence and despair that’s what. They cannot be killed with physical violence, they are for all intents and purposes immortal.
As a quite empathetic person I am often moved by other peoples great joys or suffering. I am one of those suckers that cries at the John Lewis advert even though I think it’s stupid. I feel, I care and I want to be able to take away the pain people experience. So as Meeseeks begins to become more apprehensive at Jerry’s failure to improve, I felt my own anxiety rising. Mr Meeseeks calls on more of his own kind who are unable to help him achieve his ultimate goal. Added to that the desperation in their voice as they repeat “I’m Mr. Meeseeks! Look at me!” I began to feel an intense need to end their torturous suffering. To make matters worse, as they spiral into madness, they turn on each other, violence ensues which is pointless as they can’t be killed. The end to their suffering in the hands someone whose actions they cannot control and I don’t like that.
If you think about it, Meeseeks’ could be viewed as a mirror for our own anxieties about life. Ever been tasked with something you just couldn’t achieve? Just remember that frustration. Come across a barrier you just couldn’t overcome? There’s that feeling of inadequacy. Ever been let down by someone you thought would do right by you? Cue that need for violent revenge. Many of us don’t act on our impulses or become bogged down by our feelings. We learn to manage them, to protect ourselves. When you take away our ability to do this, strip away the coping mechanisms, what you are left with is a reflection the journey taken by the Meeseeks in this episode.
Many of us set life goals we want to achieve before we die, some of us win, some of us are well adjusted enough to be able to change our goals depending on the shit life throws at us. But, there are people who, for whatever reason, are unable to achieve their ambitions, overcome failures or get up when life knocks them down. Sadly, some fall into a dark place of self-destruction with a belief there is no way out, until existence is pain. At times we have all felt helpless to change the paths of our lives, and for me the Mr Meeseeks story represents how desperate and powerless we can allow ourselves become. For me, they are an echo of one of my greatest fears.
I don’t want you to leave this article down and depressed, because there is plenty of Rick and Morty that is just about cheap laughs and perverted humour so on a lighter a note…
Oh wait…that’s also quite depressing. Man, this show is just so well written. Here have this instead.