The Rick and Morty Influences of Adult Swim’s Hot Streets

Rick and Morty writer Brian Wysol on how his new comedy is alike and very different from Adult Swim’s most popular show.

Brian Wysol is someone from the animation industry to keep an eye on. The writer cut his teeth on absurdist animated shorts for the popular alt venue Channel 101 before then graduating to writing for Adult Swim programs like Robot Chicken and Rick and Morty. Wysol is now in charge of his own series, Hot Streets, which just debuted this Sunday.

Hot Streets follows the exploits of a covert department from the FBI that focuses on supernatural activity. The series effectively avoids the clichés of typical police procedurals and instead focuses on ridiculous characters and insane storylines. Even though Hot Streets is a brand new show from Wysol, it still shares a few surface level similarities with Rick and Morty. For instance, both shows have a science fiction slant and feel like comedies where literally anything can happen.

When discussing his new series with Den of Geek, Wysol elaborated on how both shows are alike and dissimilar. 

“Well coming from that [Rick and Morty’s] writers’ room I definitely use a lot of the same storytelling techniques.” Wysol gets into the specifics of this and explained, “Dan Harmon notoriously uses a circle to structure his stories, which we also do on Hot Streets.”

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Another large overlap between the shows is that Justin Roiland both executive produces and provides a voice on Hot Streets. Roiland plays the manic canine, Chubbie Webbers, but Wysol discusses how the involvement of Roiland’s vocal talents was a very early piece of the picture.

From the very beginning, before I had even pitched the show to Adult Swim or before he [Roiland] had attached himself as an executive producer, I asked if he would voice this character and he said that he would.”

Wysol couldn’t believe how much this dog character evolved after Roiland put his stamp on it.

“I sent over an animatic that I had made where I played Chubbie Webbers and did this sort of canine noise. When he sent me something back it was that weird voice that’s in the show and it was just so different than what I had given him.” Wysol couldn’t be happier with Roiland’s take on the character and it’s turned into one of his favorite aspects of the show. Wysol adds, “I was dying with laughter and it’s just perfect. It also certainly changed how we would write the character because he made him sound a lot more pathetic. There’s something just sad about everything that he does.”

In spite of how Wysol’s team includes Justin Roiland and they use the same story skeleton for structure, Hot Streets�� humor intentionally tries to distance itself from what’s found on Rick and Morty.

“Being different from Rick and Morty is definitely something that we talked about a lot,” admits Wysol. “One of the things that we try to avoid—A lot of shows like Rick and Morty or South Park will do pop culture jokes so well that I didn’t feel like we had anything to add in that category.” 

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Hot Streets in turn goes in the opposite direction with its comedic sensibilities. 

“So one way in which we try to differentiate ourselves is to try to limit that [pop culture references] as much as possible. In the third episode there’s a bit of a Superman homage, but we’re not really referencing pop culture in the dialogue.”

This approach is definitely felt within the series, which then needs to rely on its own twisted internal logic and nonsensical chaos for comedic relief.

“We also try to avoid meta jokes as well because Rick and Morty also really excels in that area. So those are some ways in which we’re trying to find our own voice.”

Wysol is ready for the series to carve out its own niche and it doesn’t look like the exaggerated comedy will have any difficulty on that front. Who knows, a second season of Hot Streets might even debut before season four of Rick and Morty comes out.

Hot Streets can be seen every Sunday at midnight with back-to-back episodes on Adult Swim.