Hulu’s Solar Opposites is known for its hilariously twisted point of view on American pop culture—thanks to its protagonists, aliens who’re sent to Earth after their home planet, Shlorp, is destroyed. While they’re technically an Away Team on a sci-fi mission, the dynamics among them have settled into something decidedly more family-like.
Ahead of season three’s arrival on Hulu next week, io9 spoke with co-creator and executive producer Mike McMahan (Rick and Morty, Star Trek: Lower Decks) about how the relationships have evolved among the Shlorpians—particularly their leader, Korvo (voiced by co-creator Justin Roiland), and his second-in-command, Terry (Thomas Middleditch).
“The way we talked about Terri and Korvo when we first created those characters is, let’s take all of the trashy stuff we like that makes us like the world and put it in Terry, and have him be unabashedly a fan of things that might not be cool or things that might not be erudite. You know what I mean? Like, let him be a fan of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and the movie Solo,” McMahan said. “And Korvo, let him be the voice of everything in the world we don’t like, and calling it out. Let him call out bullshit politicians and companies destroying the environment, and let him be a little grouchier. Then, we have those two characters, however we define it, be in love and be together and have to be working together. In the first season, Korvo’s talking about the mission; Terry’s talking about wanting to have fun. They happen to sleep together and they don’t define themselves as a couple, but they kind of are because they saw [that’s what people do] on TV ... So you get to have the look of a classic TV family without it being a classic TV family, however we define it.”
Though the aliens must continue to pay attention to their mission—or at least Korvo does; the others, which also include teenagers Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack), plus the baby Pupa, really don’t care at all—by season three, the bonds have become more solidified between them. “They’re a family. They’re not married by law, but there’s a lot more of them admitting ‘I care for you, I want to try to make this work, and I want to try to fit in.’ And when we were writing it, it was important that—look, Terry and Korvo, they’re sort of like immigrants. They’re sort of like a gay couple, but they’re not. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of heavy stuff out there to talk about, and Solar Opposites might not be the place for us to say we know the exact right way to handle it. And we also don’t want to, in our joke-making, make light of anything that’s really important to somebody’s life. But all of this stuff in this texture is a part of life. And so [with this] alien couple, eventually this season you get to see a lot more of an emotional relationship between them. They’re admitting that they’re a couple even more than before, especially at the end of the season, where being a family has become more important than the mission.”
It’s important to Solar Opposites, too, as McMahan explained. “I love that subversively, we’re saying, ‘By the way, [Terry and Korvo] are voiced by two male actors and they appear to be male. They’re in a loving relationship. They’re a couple. And that’s not weird.’ And in the opinion of the show, that’s a totally normal thing. And I like that that’s not the point of the show—the point of the show is the jokes and all this stuff, but it’s in the show and it’s important to the characters. Look, we’re chuckleheads. We’re comedy writers. We’re the face of the enemy. But at the same time, it’s important that we are thoughtful and that we show something in every aspect of Solar that people haven’t seen before, and we do it with respect and from a place of an emotional honesty that feels like it’s not distracting. It’s fun to watch. It should feel more freeing than, like, we’re making a statement about something.”
Speaking of those jokes, there are a couple of self-referential moments sprinkled into season three—overall, a season packed with very meta jokes—where we see “Hulu approved” or “Hulu not approved” stamped over the proceedings. We couldn’t resist asking if that was in reference to any behind-the-scenes pushback Solar Opposites might’ve gotten from the streamer about its often raunchy humor. Turns out that’s not at all the case.
“No, I mean, bizarrely, we would love that,” McMahan admitted. “The only things we end up having to take out of the show are—we’re part of the Disney family now, and sometimes when you say something vigorously inappropriate about a Disney IP, they’re like, ‘Could we just do a different thing?’ And we understand. But when we put the stamp of ‘Hulu approved,’ we want it to feel like we’re getting away with stuff and that Hulu is getting mad at us, but honestly, they’re our biggest champions. We have conversations with them—they’re our first audience, so we’re trying to be thoughtful so that we’re only thoughtful enough that the goofy craziness of it can come through all the time. But Hulu has never really called and been like, ‘Don’t do that joke!’ They’re our biggest fans, which is why we’re able to get away with as much as we do.”
Solar Opposites season three arrives July 13 on Hulu.
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