Rick & Morty’s Dan Harmon and Tuca & Bertie’s Lisa Hanawalt on the animation that inspired them

There was an extended moment in 2020 where it seemed like pop culture as we knew it would cease to exist. The cancellations, closures, and indefinite postponements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were racking up and—while ultimately the least of our country’s worries—it seemed as if we’d be left to watch re-runs until further notice. But there was always hope that animation could push forward, to deliver entertainment not relegated to the Zoom chat window; after all, what’s more quarantine-friendly than recording voiceover in the confines of a sound isolation booth?

While, yes, the industry rather quickly found a way to get actors (safely) back on set, animated series were already moving full steam ahead, with some slight modifications to how they get the job done. Among them were Adult Swim’s cultish-ly adored Rick & Morty, returning for its fifth season, and the equally beloved Tuca & Bertie, arriving to its new network home for season two after getting the untimely axe at Netflix. Ahead of the shows’ returns this month, The A.V. Club joined Rick & Morty co-creator Dan Harmon and Tuca & Bertie creator Lisa Hanawalt in conversation, discussing the pivot to remote work on their respective seasons and how that shaped every step of the process, from writing and storyboarding to animating to recording actors from their “at-home studios” (which, at least initially, consisted of blanket forts for soundproofing). In doing so, Hanawalt stumbled upon a metaphor—that working from home is a bit like being a human Roomba—that got stronger the more the creators unpacked it.

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