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‘Rick and Morty’s’ First Female Writers Speak Out: ‘Resisting the Change Will Make Things Worse’

Four women writers reveal how Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland's zany animated sci-fi comedy is changing the status quo at Adult Swim.

"Rick and Morty" Season 3 Episode 2

“Rick and Morty”

Adult Swim

Created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, “Rick and Morty” is the zany sci-fi family comedy that keeps on surprising. Cycling through multiple timelines, alien life forms, and human insecurities with a maniacal glee, the animated series flew under the radar at first, with Harmon’s eccentricities caused fans to wait a years in between seasons. Now, “Rick and Morty” is back in full swing, and better than ever. That’s largely due to some fresh blood in the writers room —  now fifty percent female, not counting the showrunners.

“That’s just incredibly rare, unfortunately,” Jessica Gao told The Hollywood Reporter. “More often than not, I’m the only woman in the room or the only person of color — or I’m both. So, having a balanced room just makes things a lot easier for women in the sense that you feel you can pitch things and someone else will understand you.”

The most experienced of the four new women writers, Gao previously worked with Adult Swim on “Robot Chicken,” where she was also that show’s first woman writer. She has had a good experience with the network, but recognizes it is limited to just two shows. “”It’s a bummer that [Adult Swim] don’t have any female [showrunners] and it definitely has the vibe of a boy’s club,” said Gao.

Jane Becker, Erica Rosbe, and Sarah Carbiener were “Rick and Morty” fans before landing the gig, and didn’t see anything sorely lacking in the show’s female characters. “I don’t think they ever didn’t give Summer and Beth their due,” said Carbiener. “It wasn’t like we showed up and said, ‘Where are all the Beth episodes?’… [N]ow that there are women in the room we can vet them and make them better.”

All four writers felt welcomed and supported by the existing team. “There was no pushback. There was no weirdness,” said Becker. She acknowledged that was a rarity. “Women are definitely underrepresented in all aspects of Hollywood, and I think when you feel underrepresented you’re not going to last, because it’s so hard.”

Despite Adult Swim’s poor track record, (network executive Mike Lazzo once said “women don’t tend to like conflict”), Becker is optimistic about the future. “I think resisting the change will make things worse. It’s good that we pointed out a problem and I hope Adult Swim is going to try and change it by hiring more female showrunners.”

Read the full interview here.

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