In Praise of Gene, the Doofy Neighbor in Rick and Morty
Gene has always been a lovable anti-Jerry. Season 7 finally makes it obvious
Wait…Gene who? The biggest surprise in the Rick and Morty Season 7 Episode 1, “How Poopy Got His Poop Back,” is how much of a spotlight it shines on the Smiths’ oft-forgotten neighbor, transforming him into one of the show’s most lovable characters. He’s basically Jerry without any fear or shame.
The Rick and Morty Season 7 premiere sees Rick recruit a crack team of his closest alcoholic friends — including Gearhead, Squanchy, and Birdperson — for a half-baked intervention. But they need a sober person to make it convincing.
Enter Gene, a normal suburban white guy with an awful fashion sense and a passion for mowing his lawn who may or may not look super-familiar to fans. (Just don’t get him confused with poor Mr. Benson from across the street, who broke his back after Summer forgot to put a mattress under him while time was frozen between Season 1 and 2.)
Gene first popped his head over the fence in Rick and Morty Season 3’s “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy.” After Summer embiggened herself and destroyed the garage while Rick was away with Jerry, Morty yelled at his mother over her stubborn refusal to call Rick for help. The kindhearted Gene was just checking in to see if everything was alright, probably to help if needed — and he got totally abused for it.
“Mind your own goddamn business, Gene!” Morty screams. “I’m having a conversation with my mother here!”
When the most sheepish kid in the multiverse treats you like garbage, you’re basically worse than a Jerry. Yet Gene is an undeniably chill guy in the Rick and Morty Season 7 premiere, going along for the wildest of benders keeping up with the likes of Rick and Birdperson. When the waiter at the restaurant F#%k You’s calls him “Gilligan,” he takes it in stride! He’s able to successfully urinate in the Party Mixer cement truck while being spun upside down! Most important of all, Hugh Jackman married Gene’s cousin so they’re friendly enough for Hugh to love it when Gene calls him his “Wolverine-law.”
Here’s our guy Gene absolutely crushing it with lame dad jokes and getting the group an in to party with Hugh Jackman. He even knows that Hugh refers to his own house as the “Jack Shack” which is almost as good as Mojo Dojo Casa House. Meeting Hugh also sets up the episode’s best joke: After Gene warns the group that Hugh is anti-limitation and extreme, Rick delivers a real zinger: “What’s extreme by the Gene Metric? They have Les Mis shot glasses?”
To top it all off, while high on Hugh’s mystery substance, Gene is able to effortlessly shoot a Tony Award out of the air with a double-barrel shotgun without hurting anybody. He also paints “Take Him Back” on his bare chest when the gang attempts a Say Anything maneuver outside Mr. Poopybutthole’s ex-wife’s apartment. In the fight against the Predator, he volunteers himself as a human meat shield.
Where has this guy been for six whole seasons?
Gene’s had more than a few speed bumps along the way. During the Space Sperm invasion of “Rickdependence Spray,” Rick ran over a neighbor who “felt like Gene.” Thankfully, Gene survived, and Rick liked him enough to mention him as a potential team member a few episodes later during “Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion” rather than recruit Beth and Jerry as pilots. Apparently, Gene has always been Rick’s go-to guy. We just never knew.
When the Smith family stages their daring escape from their house in Season 6’s “Night Family,” Gene’s outside walking his dog: “Having a bit of trouble with your car, Sanchez?” The casual and friendly sense of familiarity Gene’s always brought to the table — even when there are angry robots and explosions going off nearby — was always a forgettable delight, but now they’ve all retroactively become fun little Gene Easter eggs. Or shall we say, “Gene-ster eggs”?!