Kanye West is a big fan of Adult Swim’s animated comedy, Rick & Morty. He revealed his fandom last year when he reacted to the announcement of the show’s renewal on Twitter by calling it his “favorite show” and stating he’d “seen every episode at least 5 times.”
Asked about Kanye's vocal appreciation of the show at a media event in mid-May, the show's creators, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, praised the artist unreservedly. Roiland gushed with compliments, referring to Kanye as a “genius,” a “visionary,” and a “kindred spirit,” while Harmon built upon this effusiveness with a more tangible offer, stating “I’m giving him an episode, I’m making it official. We have 70, he can have one. Kanye, you can have an episode.”
Incidentally, both parties neglected to mention the controversy that has enshrouded Kanye for the better part of two years now. As a fan of their show personally, I found this odd. Despite being absurdist and high-concept, Rick & Morty has never shied away from tackling controversial subject matter, so I have to imagine any episode they'd build around Kanye in 2019 would have to touch, at least nominally, on his atrocious political views.
To determine what such an episode might look like, I used my imagination as a dedicated viewer of the show, my somewhat diminished love of Kanye, and my utter lack of screenwriting experience to craft the following script.
[Rick barges into Morty’s Room at 3 AM. As is customary for his character, he is drunk and belligerent.]
Rick: W-w-wake up Morty! We have to go on an [burps] a-a-adventure.
Morty: [Waking up] Jeez, Rick. It’s the middle of the night. Can’t this wait until tomorrow?
Rick: No, it can’t! This is urgent! I just found out Kanye West is a MAGA guy now. We [burps] we have to save him!
Morty: How is it you’re just hearing about this, Rick? Kanye has been supporting Donald Trump for almost two years now. It’s—uh—it’s actually been... Fine for the most part? I mean, it sucked at first, but then most of us just decided to ignore it. Turns out, there’s way too much music out there to care.
Rick: Do you even hear yourself when you speak, Morty? Too much music?! You sound like an idiot. When was the last time you even listened to Graduation?
Morty: Graduation? What the hell are you even talking about, Rick? That’s like Kanye’s worst album.
Rick: I’m not going to sit here and rank Kanye West’s albums with you, Morty. If I wanted to have a conversation that unproductive, I’d go door to door and debate strangers about their stance on the Israel/Palestine conflict. The important thing here is we need to save Kanye!
Morty: But, save him from what? You’re acting like he’s being held captive by Ben Shapiro and being forced to tweet his dumb opinions at gunpoint. People have tried to talk sense into him. He’s just too deluded by misinformation. You can’t save someone from their own internet rabbit holes, y’know?
Rick: Sure you can. You’re just saying that because you disabled that porn filter your parents installed on your laptop.
Rick: [Growing increasingly frenzied as he speaks, until he’s physically shaking Morty by the collar] I’m not even talking about saving Kanye for his own sake, though. I’m not interested in watching him try and fail to rehabilitate his public image with a bad Gospel album. I’m talking about saving Kanye for me, Morty! ME!
I can’t deal with the stares anymore. I want to be able to drive around and listen to my beloved Graduation again without people yelling at me from the street that I’m "canceled." I want to be able to listen to “Flashing Lights” again, Morty! I love the chorus of that song, Morty! Dwele never gets the credit he deserves, Morty! DWELE!
Morty: Okay. Jeez, Rick. You’re scaring me now. If you’re such a big Kanye fan, how did it take you this long to learn about his political views?
Rick: No time to explain now, Morty. I’ll fill you in on everything once we get there.
Morty: Wait, where are we go—
[Rick takes out his portal gun, shoots a hole in the wall, and aggressively pulls Morty through it. They emerge in an alternate reality that seems futuristic, but cold and sterile. All the architecture is eggshell white, everyone is wearing baggy, tan-colored clothing. A hologram of Steve Jobs is marching around a bustling courtyard, delivering a keynote address. No one is paying attention.]
Morty: [Looking around and marveling] Whoa! What is this place, Rick? Where are we?
Rick: Well, as you know, there are infinite realities happening across infinite timelines simultaneously.
Morty: I try not to think about it too much, but okay.
Rick: Well, this is the improbable timeline where Kanye West’s overly ambitious business venture, DONDA, became the all-powerful conglomerate he’d intended it to be. In this universe, DONDA is kinda like big brother. But, bigger. It used to be Dame and BIG’s brother. Haha! You get it, Morty? Because of the song from Graduation?
Morty: Enough with the Graduation references, okay, Rick? That joke doesn’t even make sense, y'know? DONDA was named after Kanye’s mom.
Rick: That may literally be the case, Morty. But, I’m speaking figuratively here. In this timeline, DONDA is a lot like “Big Brother” from the novel 1984. All goods and services are either made or run by DONDA. You buy DONDA cars with a credit card from a DONDA bank. You work for a DONDA company to pay off your DONDA debt. You meet your partner using a DONDA matchmaking service. Your kids are educated in DONDA schools. They use something called “Emoticon Autocorrect by DONDA,” whatever that is…
Rick: Anyways, what do you think? Do you think you could build a life for yourself here?
Morty: W-w-what are you talking about, Rick? Why would we live here?!
Rick: Well, how did you think I was planning on saving Kanye? I scouted all the possible timelines to find the various ones where Kanye doesn’t eventually turn into a right-wing douchebag and this is one of the few that seemed most livable.
Morty: And your plan was just to abandon our current lives and move here?! You’re insane, Rick! You didn’t even give me a chance to say goodbye to my parents!
Rick: Look, I know you're mad now, but you'll be humming a different tune a month from now when you're listening to "All of the Lights" peacefully without anyone calling you a hypocrite. Trust me! Now all that’s left is to meet the man himself. As long as he’s not completely insufferable, I think we could build a real nice life for ourselves here.
[Rick shoots his portal gun at the wall, the pair walk through it, and they emerge on the other side in a giant, octagonal office, papered wall to wall with pictures of Japanese vending machines. The office is completely empty, except for Kanye, who is sitting cross-legged in the center of the room, completely naked, staring vacantly into space.]
Morty: Uhh, Kanye? Mr. West?
Kanye: My child. I sense your presence.
Morty: You mean, like, with your eyes and ears? I'm not trying to hide—
Kanye: Shh! Be still, young one! Let us communicate with our energies. I sense you are of no danger to me.
[Rick and Morty exchange sideways glances]
Rick: Hey, Kanye. Rick Sanchez here. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about your political opinions.
Kanye: I'm not sure what you mean by "political opinions?" There are no politics here, Rick. I am a thought leader. I lead with my thoughts.
Rick: Oh, so you're a megalomaniacal dictator? Cool. Yeah. Real cool stuff. And, um, what does the public think about that—uh—approach to governance? Are they chill about it? Or do they get all whiny and complain about how it "ruins your music now?"
Kanye: Not at all.
Rick: See, Morty?
Kanye: But that's probably because I banned all my music a few years ago. I had to do it. No matter how successful DONDA got, people wouldn't stop referring to me as a "rapper." It began to feel disrespectful. It's like they were living with the second coming of Jesus but refused to call him anything but a "carpenter."
Morty: There's the Kanye we all know and love!
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Rick: [Sighs deeply] Nothing.
[Rick shoots the wall with his portal gun, pushes Morty through, and follows suit. The pair emerge on the other side in an upscale restaurant. Kanye is drumming on the table and rapping at a waiter. People are staring in disapproval. Eventually, Kanye stops rapping and one solitary man starts to clap tentatively. When no one joins in, the man's wife reaches out and physically lowers his arms.]
Rick: Okay, I'll admit that first universe wasn't a fit, Morty. But, I think we'll have more luck here. This is the alternate reality where Kanye never successfully made the jump from being a producer to being a rapper. No one could possibly judge me for listening to Graduation here, because no one knows what it is.
Morty: So, because you don't want to deal with a few sideways glances, we now have to live in a world where this poor guy doesn't get to live out his dreams?
Rick: Poor guy?! Don't you remember what happens to him when he does get to "live out his dreams?!” He turns into a Bill Cosby truther who tells millions of people "slavery was a choice."
Morty: I guess you're right.
[Morty walks over to Kanye to introduce himself]
Morty: Excuse me. Kanye? Hi, I’m Morty and this is my Grandpa, Rick. I just wanted to come over to introduce myself and say I’m a big fan of your work.
Kanye: Thank you! That means a lot. You know...if you like the beats I produce, it may interest you to know I actually do a little rapping myself.
Rick: You don’t say…
[Completely unprompted, Kanye once again starts drumming on the table and rapping the same verse he was rapping at the waiter one minute earlier]
Rick: [Interrupting] We actually heard this a minute ago, Kanye. It’s, um, it’s really something.
Kanye: I'm going to be huge!
[Extended awkward silence]
Kanye: Anyways, sorry to cut this short, but I gotta run back to the studio now.
Rick: Cool. Who are you working with at the moment?
Kanye: I’ll give you a hint. He’s the biggest name in all of rap.
Rick: Uhh, I don't know. Are you talking about Drake?
Morty: Y’know... Drake?
Kanye: I've literally never heard that name before. Who's Drake? No, I’m talking about 50 Cent. Obviously.
Morty: In 2019?!? Rick, we gotta get the hell out of here.
Rick: Yeah, fuck this shit.
[Rick takes out his portal gun, shoots a portal into the wall, and the pair climb through it. They emerge on the other side in the crowd of a reasonably well attended Kanye concert. Kanye is performing a song that exists exclusively in this timeline. The crowd seems disinterested. Off-screen, an irritated man can be heard saying the words "I don't understand why he refuses to just play the hits!"]
Rick: Okay, Morty, I admit it. I forgot to account for the ripple effect of Kanye's absence from the spotlight. Sue me, okay?
Morty: This isn't some minor oversight! Imagine how annoyed you'd have been the first time you flipped on the TV and heard a middle-aged newscaster refer to 50 Cent as "Fiddy."
Rick: I didn't exactly buy a house and lay down roots. Relax, Morty! We were there for a total of five minutes.
Morty: Well, where are we now? Judging by this weird song Kanye is performing, clearly, we're not home. Although, now that I think about it, it's definitely no weirder than "Lift Yourself."
Rick: Way to use your powers of deduction, Morty. You really [burps] cracked the case!
Morty: Do you have to be this big of an asshole?
Rick: Fine. I'll just tell you. We're currently in the alternate timeline where Kanye West happened to be sober that night in 2009 and didn't interrupt Taylor Swift at the VMAs. The thing is: because the public never turned on Kanye, he wasn't forced to make My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to win them back. And, without this narrative tension to fuel his career, he stagnated creatively and 808s & Heartbreak was his last acclaimed album.
Rick: Correction, Morty: I don't want to live here. If that last experience taught me anything, it's that: when it comes to Kanye, the good parts of his career and the bad parts of his persona are inextricably linked. The only album of his I'd be willing to sacrifice is ye, but even if I got rid of that, I'd also have to lose Pusha-T's Daytona, which was produced by the same MAGA loving asshole. It's a no-win situation.
Morty: I could have explained this to you an hour ago!
Rick: You're a real piece of shit when you gloat, Morty. I'm about to take you home like you asked. Can't you just be happy?
Morty: I mean, I was planning on stealing your portal gun the second you inevitably blacked out regardle—wait a minute. If you already came to this conclusion, what are we doing here?
Rick: I just wanted to confirm a theory real quick.
[Rick turns to a concert-goer standing beside him and pokes him to get his attention]
Rick: Hey, quick question: do you know who Taylor Swift is?
Concert-goer 1: “Taylor Swift?" Hmm, the name seems familiar, but I can't seem to place it. Can't say I do.
Rick: Would you mind asking your friend?
[Concert-goer 1 gets his friend's attention]
Concert-goer 1: Hey, this old guy here wants to know if the name "Taylor Swift" means anything to you.
Concert-goer 2: She was that country singer, right? I feel like I can picture her in my head, but I don't think I could name a song of her's.
Rick: Interesting. Would you look at that, Morty? I guess Kanye really did "make that bitch famous" Haha!
Morty: Oh, jeez…