Spoilers below for episodes from Hulu's Solar Opposites, so be warned!
For the Hulu animated comedy Solar Opposites, creators Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan distanced themselves from their other super-popular animated series, Rick and Morty, with a story about an alien family, their highly dangerous "pet," and an entire mini-ecosystem known as The Wall. Solar Opposites features tons of surreal and absurd humor throughout Season 1's eight episodes, and two particularly strange pop culture gags include an appearance from a near-perfect replica of Jerry's apartment in Seinfeld, as well as appearances from very imperfect replicas of Mickey Mouse, Paddington, Donald Duck and more.
CinemaBlend spoke with both Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan about the sci-fi excellence of Solar Opposites, and I had to ask about both the Seinfeld nod and the bizarre Disney shout-outs. Read on for their answers!
Where Solar Opposites' Seinfeld Reference Came From
Episode 7, which features the misdirect title of "Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear," takes place entirely within the micro-universe of The Wall, easily making it the standout of the season. (Check out what Roiland and McMahan told us about that episode.) As viewers can probably remember, one moment early on introduces the idea that those rebelling against The Duke formed their headquarters within a replica of Jerry's apartment in Seinfeld. Not only did that scene feature a winking knock on the iconic sitcom's polarizing finale, but we even later got to see a psuedo-Kramer join the fun (which seemingly proved that the replica had a working refrigerator).
Here's what Justin Roiland told me when I asked what the idea was being adding the recognizable Seinfeld setting to the dystopian Wall setting.
JUSTIN: My god, that's such a good question, because it's got a great story. You want to know the honest-to-God truth? I bought one of those stupid Seinfeld replica sets that are online. Basically, you can buy like a fucking awesome little miniature Seinfeld set replica, and I bought one. And then when we were writing, I was like, 'It'd be really funny if we could put a Seinfeld set replica somewhere on the wall.' Because it's a real thing, they actually make them, and I think it's like an official licensed merch thing, too. Two thoughts went through my head. One is like, 'That would be really funny, just because it's a real thing and what a deep-cut weird reference. But then the other thought was, 'If we do this, and these Seinfeld set replicas take off, I could be sitting on a real goldmine here with my sealed Seinfeld set replica.' You know, I haven't opened it yet.
MIKE: And just to be clear, he said that while saying it in the [writers] room. [Laughs.]
Just in case anyone thought that creative people always get their ideas from complicated and extremely deep places in the mind, sometimes it all comes down to what's pop culture memorabilia on a nearby shelf. It definitely helps if the thing that's being written also happens to contain a slew of miniaturized hubs in need of tiny furniture.
For Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan, just about anything can be flipped on its comedic edge, be it the murderous intoxication of pubescent pheromones (See Episode 4, discussed below) or one of television's most recognizable living rooms. Here's what else the Solar Opposites bosses had to say about the Seinfeld bit.
MIKE: There's no idea you bring up on Solar that somebody doesn't at least take a crack at. If it makes me smile or laugh in the room, even if it makes no sense, it's like, 'You know what? We're gonna make it make sense. They're aliens. Yes, maybe Yumyulack did have a phase where he bought a Seinfeld set replica.' Who fucking cares? Every time I see it, it makes me laugh.
JUSTIN: Or who knows how he got it? He might have gotten it at some Goodwill and was like, 'Oh, this is miniature, and this would be perfect for The Wall.' It's fucking hilarious.
MIKE: I like in the show that the scale is off. It's not even the right scale for them, and then the characters in the show comment on it. That's probably – Justin – you being like, 'Well, the scale's a little off. Maybe we shouldn't put it in The Wall.' And me probably being like, 'No, fuck that. We'll just have the characters mention it.'
To recap: the replica's scale being slightly off is a subtle joke based on a real-world observation told within a meta pop culture reference that is itself within a genre-reversing bottle episode of a relatively broad sci-fi comedy. And it all started with Justin Roiland spending a lot of money on a tiny room. That's just how it goes with a show like Solar Opposites.
Why Solar Opposites Referenced Mickey Mouse And Other Cartoons
Before the Seinfeld apartment made its glorious appearance, Solar Opposites featured a sub-plot in Episode 4, "The Booster Manifold," that centered on the Pupa's adventure outside the house during the family's Goobler conundrum. After visits to the dump and a sketchy ship, the Pupa found itself up for bidding as part of a "rare collector's academy" auction selling off real animals dressed as famed fictional characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, some of the 101 Dalmatians crew, Paddington and more.
When I asked about the Pupa being part of this bizarre plot point, which felt like a weird mix of Amazon knockoffs and Disney worship, here's what Mike McMahan told me:
Growing up, I loved reading Mad Magazine, especially the Sergio Aragones' little mini comic strips, like the wordless comic strips in the margin. And when we were breaking stories, we wanted the Pupa – who's basically a non speaking character for the most part – to kind of have these nonverbal adventures. So when the writers were pitching and breaking these ideas – it might have been [executive producer/writer] Josh Bycell – we wanted the Pupa on this big, grand adventure, and when that put him in this area full of somebody who's collecting almost-famous animals, that they might think that the Pupa kinda looks like SpongeBob a little bit. So his other imprisoned animals would be like a duck dressed in a little Donald Duck outfit, and it's just the kind of thing where, you know, when you're goofing around as much as we are, and just trying to add as much texture and have as much fun with it in that dialogue-free story; the more details like that, the more rewarding it is, so I love that stuff. That sad moment on the train is so funny when the Paddington bear has his hand out.
I can't tell you why it's so damned funny that the adorable Paddington lookalike appears to be emotionally invested in having the Pupa around for the rest of that train ride and beyond, but it definitely earned a laugh from yours truly. As did Korvo's rage fit about blue ice cubes just before excreting that red Goobler, as well as the violent massacre later on. Man, I loved these two episodes, not to mention every other one.