Each series began with apparent indifference, even hostility to its leads, encouraging viewers to laugh in shock and disgust over their behavior. They established a pattern of apparent assholery and then disrupted that pattern with flashes of honest feeling, which land all the harder because they’re unexpected. It’s a model that respects an audience’s unwillingness to settle for easy heartwarming moments by burning the bridges that lead to those moments, and then slowly, patiently rebuilding them. No one’s going to pretend that BoJack isn’t an ass, or that Rick and Morty have a functional relationship. But once that pretense is off the table, it’s possible to find other, more challenging but still affecting veins of emotion. The surprise of realizing you care about a story that, up until five minutes ago, seemed to be the antithesis of caring, is what makes loyal fans for life.