Note: I read the Red Dwarf books as well as watched the show. Some of the information I use is in the books rather than the show, so some of you may not have seen it before.
Disclaimer: I don't own Red Dwarf and I am not making any profit from this work.
The Problem With Arnold J Rimmer
See, the problem with Rimmer is that he's a complete, total and utter smeghead. No missing out any of those words. Check them. Complete, plus total, plus utter. All put before the noun 'smeghead'. Because nothing less could possibly describe Rimmer without resorting to wild hand gestures and shouting. And nobody on the ship is Italian anyway.
Rimmer's just the kind of guy who gets right up your left nostril within about six seconds of meeting him. In fact, some people have the deep desire to punch him after only three seconds, especially if he's feeling conversational. And by nine seconds, even the most considerate, kind, patient, channelling-Mother-Teresa type of people have had enough of him.
After all, what kind of a bloke is so bad that his parents gave him the middle name 'Judas'?
Lister even has moments wondering if Rimmer was ever alive at all, or if he was a robotics project that his brothers started and then got bored of before they could give him a personality. What kind of a bloke collected photographs of twentieth century telegraph poles, got off with the manliest woman on the ship (and worse, had that as the only notch in his bedpost), and acted shocked that Lister had had his first shag at twelve instead of acting congratulatory, like a real man? Furthermore, what kind of person - let alone bloke - manages to make a man commit suicide just by calling the wrong phone number?
So quite naturally, Lister is more than irritated that he's going to spend the rest of his life trapped on a small rustbucket with a perfect hologram of the weirdest, most annoying, and most alien creature on Red Dwarf. Including the Cat. And how can an ordinary human male be weirder than a narcissistic creature with six nipples and a wardrobe the size of Kuwait? To be honest, Lister is probably beyond irritated, and really pissed off about the whole thing.
Still, he has to admit there are advantages to having Rimmer around. He can actually make the skutters do some work occasionally, because for some reason they seem to think that he really is an officer, and not just lying through his eye teeth. Or maybe it's the pitch at which he can squeak when really, really angry, because it's a little shrill, and the Cat will always mysteriously vanish when Rimmer starts squeaking too.
And then, of course, is the reason of existence for both Lister and the Cat these days, and that's to torment Rimmer. It's given Lister and the Cat something in common, apart from games of unicycle polo in the corridors. The cold, hard, unwibbly truth is that they both loathe Rimmer. He gets right on their tits, as the Cat has told Lister in far too much detail, far too many times. But, when you have a companion, annoying smegheads like Rimmer become less of a problem.
Honestly, Lister would probably find Rimmer funny all on his own. He doesn't want to have to try it (he's always had an escape route before) but he is probably just as amusing. He'd still do all those stupid, amazingly weird things like flaring his nostrils every two seconds and designing exam revision timetables worthy of a place in a Parisian art gallery. Without doing any of the revision, naturally. Not that Lister would know anything about revision - who needs to revise to get into art college anyway? But he's pretty sure, with his history of failing absolutely every subject he's ever tried his brain on, that you do need to revise at some point. Because he didn't, and he failed.
Lister just doesn't get it. Rimmer is so egotistical, so narcissistic, and so self-pitying, but it's obvious it's his own fault. Just look at his counterpart, Ace. Only tiny decision, and Ace was the result. Ace was what Rimmer could have been, or maybe even should have been, but Rimmer's just let his own petty behaviour and jealous hatred of his brothers to get in the way of that. Lister wouldn't mind that bit so much (after all, he's got no right to preach on that score either. If he'd just cleaned himself up a bit and stopped being so self-centred, he might have still been with Kochanski when the radiation leak happened. Okay, so he'd be dead, but that was okay. He'd have died happy, right?) if it wasn't for the fact that Rimmer truly, honestly believes that it's everybody else's fault.
It's the epitome of smeghead-dom in Lister's eyes. The unshakeable belief that it's everybody else's fault, because it couldn't possibly be Rimmer's own fault, could it? No, Rimmer himself is clearly a martyr, victimised by the evil society of Io, the other Rimmers, and (of course) the humiliation of going to Io House.
Lister thinks, sometimes, that when you get right down to it - right down to the nitty-gritty bits of what separates the Rimmer people from the Lister people is caring about being a failure. Lister's not a great guy. He's a bum, and he knows it. But he doesn't care. He doesn't really mind that he's ended up with no prospects whatsoever, because, let's face it, he never had the ambition to get out of bed and reach for them even if he did, once. But Rimmer - no, Rimmer cares. Rimmer hates being a failure. Rimmer hates being the loser.
Lister was born to fail. An abandoned baby in a pub in a box under a pool table in Liverpool. Of course he was going to fail. He wasn't even going to get things to lose. Rimmer was born to fail too, most likely, but surrounded by people who didn't fail...
It makes Lister just that tiny bit sympathetic.
But then he realises he's obviously sobering up and goes to get more lager.
The problem - the real, honest-to-God, no-holds-barred problem - with Arnold Judas Rimmer...is that he's Rimmer.
It doesn't come more screwed up than that.