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Morty is a little crazy and finally lost his chance with Jessica when she became an immortal, omniscient being. Summer’s only friend, Tammy Gueterman, turned out to be a spy for the coalition of planets. As the newbie in town, Bruce Chutback is Morty and Summer’s only real chance to build a group of friends and gain a foothold in the vicious high school pecking order. Series creator Dan Harmon best describes Chutback’s potential in his opening track*: “Bruce Chutback! Newest kid in school! Hasn’t done anything embarrassing yet. Unlimited Potential! Everyone guesses! No credit is perfect credit, Chutback is the best!”
Side note: “Bruce Chutback” is just a fun name to say. Many Dan Harmon-produced series enjoy introducing characters who, because of their name, would be a studio audience’s favorite sitcom character. Chutback’s songs in this episode are reminiscent of Preston Coogler’s post-credit trailer in Community.
Whether Chutback is the best is certainly debatable. At the end of the episode, he goes through a truly transformative experience with Morty and Summer and still isn’t ready to be their friend until he’s done his research.
“To be honest about how I do this, I can’t really commit to a friendship for more than 24 hours,” Chutback says. “I need that time to get an overall picture of your position within your school’s social hierarchy. And if that’s okay, I’ll see you again. Otherwise no news is bad news.
Morty and Summer’s focus on the high school hierarchy isn’t just unique to them. Every teenager in this world is extremely focused on their status within the group. And no amount of life-affirming travel in a sentient flying saucer can change that. Youthful, earthly concerns will always replace science fiction. although Rick and Morty has a weak grip on its own continuity and differing moral stances, which is one area where the show has been consistent.
Criss is an inspired choice for the role, not only because he understands how appropriate it is to downplay Chutback, but also because of his own acting history. Although the actor and singer is now in his thirties, he will be forever young for many thanks to roles in several StarKid Productions musicals, cheerfulness, and American horror story. It reminds us all that even though we leave high school, it doesn’t always leave us.
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