Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s big-kid programming block, may be a notorious boys club, but Rick and Morty, possibly its most insane, disturbing, existential crisis-afflicted, belch-filled, pop-culture reference-jammed, hilarious, and heartwarming show, has taken matters into its own hands. The show, created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, has added four women to its writers room, achieving gender parity. Jane Becker, Erica Rosbe, Sarah Carbiener, and Jessica Gao have joined Rick and Morty for its third season. While Becker, Rosbe, and Carbiener are fairly new writers, Jessica Gao is more of a veteran, as the first female writer for Robot Chicken. She told Hollywood Reporter:
“If you’re not counting Dan and Justin it was a balanced writers room with 50 percent women and 50 percent men. That’s just incredibly rare, unfortunately,” she said. “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.”
After two seasons of all-male writers, Harmon and Roiland said in an interview in 2015 that they had been receiving a lot of scripts from female writers, and that they were most likely going to end up with a couple women on staff. While the women did receive some backlash from fans of the show prior to season 3 for being “social justice warriors” and ruining the show (again, before it aired) this season has already been receiving positive reviews.
Sigh, it feels like it was just yesterday when Executive VP of Adult Swim, Mike Lazzo went on Reddit last year and gave a very terrible justification of why the network has zero female showrunners. Instead of taking the network’s terrible track record with women as an opportunity for reflection, he went ahead and blamed a very broad stereotype of women, writing, “Women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects.”
“I’ll be honest,” Becker said, “I was very saddened by the comments that were made. I thought that was wrong. But I don’t think it’s too late to change things at Adult Swim. They were good to us and we have a relationship with them now.”
Hopefully Rick and Morty’s new staff members and continued success inspire a broader change for women at Adult Swim.