Casting controversies have loomed over TV shows such as Central Park, Family Guy, Big Mouth and The Simpsons in recent times, with white performers departing their animated roles as characters of colour due to fan outcry.
While virtually speaking backstage at last weekend’s Emmy Awards, where Rick and Morty picked up the gong for Outstanding Animated Program, the two executive producers shared their thoughts on the situation.
“That issue, they call it whitewashing if you will, that’s been going on for a while,” noted Harmon, who also created the hit sitcom Community.
“The wave has gotten to the point where it’s huge now, but we’ve been in that water for a bit. And I’ve not even out of nobility, but out of pragmatism – I’ve always been of the mind that there’s a lot of actors out there; if we’re saying that it’s important part of a character they are of a certain background, the best way to do this is to find an actor of that background.”
Exploring another dimension to the argument, he added: “But it gets into this weird question, ‘What if you didn’t find an actor from that particular group for representation purposes?’ or ‘What if that actor is the worst actor in the world?’ Those conversations are minefields.”
Marder went on to share his “support” for “the movement”, and thinks it’s “moving in the right direction”.
“The best thing that people of privilege can do is not try to figure it out logically, take a flyer; it sure feels like the right thing to do is to not write, ‘This guy looks like this’ and then cast someone that doesn’t to do an impression of someone that looks that way,” suggested Harmon.
“That’s not throwing anyone under the bus that has been doing that, because that was normal for a long time. We’re privileged because we have a sci-fi show and three quarters of the characters are from a different planet.”
Rick and Morty airs on Adult Swim in the US, while UK fans can catch it on E4 and All 4.