Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland's Rick and Morty has had an interesting Emmys run this year, Obviously, the biggest news is that the Adult Swim series made it two years in a row when it comes to winning the award for Outstanding Animated Program. Then came the animated duo's guest appearance during the Emmy Awards ceremony itself, where Rick explained the painfully "Rick" reason why he hasn't done anything about the COVID pandemic. Now, the topic turns a bit serious as Harmon was asked for his thoughts on the current debate over white actors voicing characters of color.
Over the past few months, the fallout from the controversy has seen Kristen Bell stepping away from her role as mixed-race character Molly on HBO's Central Park (with The Umbrella Academy star Emmy Raver-Lampman cast) and Jenny Slate stepping away from voicing biracial character Missy on Netflix's Big Mouth (with Ayo Edebiri taking over the role). Mike Henry announced that he was stepping down as the voice of Cleveland on FOX's long-running Family Guy, while The Simpsons announced that non-white characters will no longer be voiced by white actors going forward.
As Harmon sees it, the practice has been going on for so long that it was only a matter of time before it came to a head. "That issue, they call it the whitewashing thing if you will, that's been going on for a while," revealed Harmon during the Creative Emmys virtual backstage presser. "The wave has gotten to the point where it's huge now, but we've been in that water for a bit." For Harmon, it just seems to make sense to cast someone with a similar background to get the most out of what he character has to offer. "I've always been of the mind that there's a lot of actors out there; if we're saying that it's an important part of a character they are of a certain background, the best way to do this is to find an actor of that background."
Harmon then playing a little bit of "Devil's Advocate" while also throwing out some advice for "people of privilege. "But it gets into this weird question, 'What if you didn't find an actor from that particular group for representation purposes?' or 'What if that actor is the worst actor in the world?' Those conversations are minefields," Harmon explained. "The best thing that people of privilege can do is not try to figure it out logically, take a flyer; it sure feels like the right thing to do is to not write, 'This guy looks like this' and then cast someone that doesn't to do an impression of someone that looks that way. That's not throwing anyone under the bus that has been doing that, because that was normal for a long time. We're privileged because we have a sci-fi show and three-quarters of the characters are from a different planet."
Those officially recognized for the award also include director Jacob Hair and writer Albro Lundy, as well as Mike McMahan, Scott Marder, Keith Crofford, Rick Mischel, Richard Grieve, Mike Lazzo, Rob Schrab, James Siciliano, Wes Archer, Michael Waldron, Nick Rutherford, Lee Harting, Ollie Green, Sydney Ryan, J. Michael Mendel, and Nathan Litz. Here's a look at what Harmon and Roiland had to say about the show's Emmy win, with huge amounts of appreciation given to the episode's creative team as well as the other nominees in their category:
View this post on Instagram
The 2020 versions of the cummerbund and governor's ball suit me just fine if not better. Thank you peers, congratulations to the team at Rick and Morty, thank you and you were robbed to all our friends and even the people we've never met at Bojack, Burgers, Big Mouth and The ever lovin Simpsons. It's all the same job so it's everybody's statue and I'm only keeping it at my house so we don't lose it
View this post on Instagram
Writer Jeff Loveness went with a simple, effective one word, three image response to his Emmys win:
— Jeff Loveness (@JeffLoveness) September 20, 2020