“Rick and Morty” has never hidden how lame Jerry is, but Season 5 finally nails the pin on the head of what we’ve long suspected. When two of the Cenobites go to the bathroom, Jerry unintentionally hears their conversation where they refer to his “delicious lack of awareness” and “oafish need to be liked.” Both of those qualifiers sum up Jerry’s personality well in a way that’s never really been articulated through the show before. Despite living with an inter-dimensional traveling genius and exposure to all kinds of aliens and other beings, Jerry never takes steps to learn about those he interacts with. He floats through life, doing whatever he needs to do at the moment to feel accepted, and then he moves on without growing.
However, Jerry’s cringy nature is only the tip of the iceberg. As the Cenobites make clear, for cringe to exist, there must be someone present who experiences embarrassment, and that’s where Rick comes into play. Rick feels he’s better than Jerry, and that makes him lame in a different way. After all, there’s nothing less cool than believing your cool, so the only way the Cenobites benefit from Jerry’s presence is if Rick maintains his belief that he’s better than his son-in-law.
Seeing as how “Rick and Morty” is a sitcom, don’t expect Rick and Jerry to change their attitudes any time soon. By the next episode, Rick will likely go back to insulting Jerry and making fun of his attempts to fit in. Their dynamic together plays a major role in many episodes’ plots, so don’t expect the cringe to go anywhere anytime soon.