Solar Opposites shouldn’t work. And originally, it didn’t.
The Hulu series premiered in May 2020, right as Rick and Morty Season 4 was in full swing. The two shows drew inevitable comparisons, not just because they’re both raunchy, meta, animated sci-fi comedies, but because Solar Opposites is the creation of Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and longtime writer Mike McMahan.
It wasn’t a favorable comparison. Solar Opposites Season 1 felt like a rejected Interdimensional Cable joke from Rick and Morty stretched over an entire season. It was a lesser version of a beloved show. Pretty good, but still lesser.
But Solar Opposites Season 2, which arrives on Hulu on March 26, takes the best ideas from Season 1, infuses them with a heavy dose of meta-humor, and delivers eight new episodes at a time when Rick and Morty Season 5 is nowhere in sight.
In other words, Solar Opposites is the show you need right now. But it’s also more than just a substitute for the real thing. In Season 2, Solar Opposites steps into its own as a legitimate challenger to Rick and Morty’s stoner sci-fi crown.
For the uninitiated, Solar Opposites follows five aliens who flee an apocalypse on their home planet and crashland on Earth. The voice cast features Justin Roiland as Korvo (the uptight leader) and Thomas Middleditch as Terry (an irresponsible second in command), along with their child-sized replicants, Jesse (Mary Mack) and Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone). The Pupa, a toddler-sized creature that will eventually terraform the entire planet and wipe out humanity, fills out the group to create an unusual nuclear family.
But the best part of Solar Opposites Season 1 wasn’t any of those characters or their weird sci-fi antics. It was the Wall, an Escape from NY-inspired story-within-a-story set inside a terrarium filled with miniaturized humans captured and enslaved by Yumyulack.
As expected, the Wall is back in Season 2, but not in the way you might think.
“We already did a War of the Roses, rebellion, Escape from New York-style adventure,” Mike McMahan tells Inverse. “We did want to subvert the expectations. The wall has a different speed this season.”
When asked which stories inspired the Wall subplot in Solar Opposites Season 2, McMahan and Roiland list modern noir classics like True Detective and Mindhunter. However, they also admit the show’s second season is largely about setting up an already confirmed Season 3.
“In retrospect, Season 2 feels like a lot of groundwork for where we get to Season 3,” McMahan says of this year’s Wall subplot. “Season 3 is almost like Season 1 on whatever drug would plus it.”
In other words, the story of the Wall in Solar Opposites Season 2 is fun — with one incredible standalone episode that I won’t spoil here — but it lacks the impact of Season 1 because it’s more focused on setting up Season 3 than providing its own closure.
Another way Solar Opposites changes in Season 2? A LOT of meta-humor. The new episodes are full of Hulu references, including an extended joke about a Handmaid’s Tale-themed Walgreens billboard. If you love the parts of Rick and Morty where Rick looks directly into the camera and talks about “seasons” or his “narrative arc,” Solar Opposites just became the show for you.
And, of course, there’s plenty of sci-fi movie references, too. Solar Opposites Season 2 parodies arguably the greatest science fiction movie of all time: Aliens. Even better, it bases an entire episode on one particular Keanu Reeves classic... The Lake House. (Trust me, it totally works.)
Ultimately, Solar Opposites is not a smart show. (If you’re that mythical person who thinks watching Rick and Morty makes you a genius, this isn’t the cartoon for you.) But if you’re looking for a stupid fun time with aliens, tiny humans stuck in a terrarium, and silly sci-fi references, this is the cartoon for you — at least until Rick and Morty Season 5 comes around.
Solar Opposites Season 2 releases March 26 on Hulu.