Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Rick And Morty Finally Confirms What We Knew About Jerry All Along

If you go almost anywhere online, you'll find a plethora of quizzes to determine which TV show character you are. Are you more of a Samantha or a Miranda? Which character from "Parks and Recreation" do you identify with the most? And of course, there's the biggest personality question of all: Are you a Rick or a Jerry?

"Rick and Morty" has created two complete opposites of what people deem to be "cool." Rick is a tortured genius with the ability to create anything he can imagine. He's fought gods and created entire universes with the sole purpose of powering his spaceship. Meanwhile, Jerry is incompetent at pretty much everything. He can't hold down a job, and when he does try to help out with Rick's adventures, he usually makes things worse. Suffice to say; no one wants to be a "Jerry."

The most recent episode, "Amortycan Grickfitti," takes Jerry's loser-ness to the next level. The episode begins with it looking like he and Rick have turned over a new leaf, with the two going out for a boys' night together. However, nothing is as it seems with Rick, and the audience soon learns the two will hang out with "Hellraiser"-esque Cenobites who feed off the embarrassment Jerry causes. The episode takes what we've known about Jerry all along a step further by implying he's even more pathetic than his family realizes.

Jerry's not just embarrassing; he's cringe

"Rick and Morty" has never hidden how lame Jerry is, but Season 5 finally nails the pin on the head of what we've long suspected. When two of the Cenobites go to the bathroom, Jerry unintentionally hears their conversation where they refer to his "delicious lack of awareness" and "oafish need to be liked." Both of those qualifiers sum up Jerry's personality well in a way that's never really been articulated through the show before. Despite living with an inter-dimensional traveling genius and exposure to all kinds of aliens and other beings, Jerry never takes steps to learn about those he interacts with. He floats through life, doing whatever he needs to do at the moment to feel accepted, and then he moves on without growing. 

However, Jerry's cringy nature is only the tip of the iceberg. As the Cenobites make clear, for cringe to exist, there must be someone present who experiences embarrassment, and that's where Rick comes into play. Rick feels he's better than Jerry, and that makes him lame in a different way. After all, there's nothing less cool than believing your cool, so the only way the Cenobites benefit from Jerry's presence is if Rick maintains his belief that he's better than his son-in-law. 

Seeing as how "Rick and Morty" is a sitcom, don't expect Rick and Jerry to change their attitudes any time soon. By the next episode, Rick will likely go back to insulting Jerry and making fun of his attempts to fit in. Their dynamic together plays a major role in many episodes' plots, so it looks as though the cringe is here to stay.

Jerry's a perfect embodiment of cringe culture

Over the last couple of decades, cringe comedy has come to the forefront of the zeitgeist. The American version of "The Office" specialized in this type of humor. Just look at the "Scott's Tot's" episode if you ever forget what it feels like to experience "cringe." But what exactly is this sensation, and why is Jerry so good (or bad) at it?

Popular Science gives this experience a more scientific-sounding name: "vicarious embarrassment." Basically, this terminology refers to that feeling of secondhand embarrassment you get when you watch someone else be socially awkward. The feeling can be more intense when you personally know the individual making the faux pas and that other person is entirely oblivious to their indiscretions. 

This sums up Rick and Jerry's relationship perfectly. Jerry has no idea how lame it is to say, "My wife" in a Borat voice, but Rick does. In "Amortycan Grickfitti," this is why Rick looks like he wants to teleport to another dimension when hanging out with Jerry and the Cenobites at the bar. He's envisioning himself doing what Jerry does, and if he were ever caught in a similar situation, he would feel awful about it. But it goes even deeper than that. 

The Popular Science article contains this intriguing quote from psychology professor Rowland Miller: "We care so much about what others think of us, and embarrassments cause such chagrin, that we can come to be mildly distressed by witnessing other people in embarrassing circumstances if we're nice, sensitive people who understand others' feelings." A lot of people probably wouldn't describe Rick Sanchez as "nice" and "sensitive," but his ability to feel cringe hints that he's not as emotionally distant as he lets on.