Why you should be watching ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’
Are you easily offended? No? Are you sure about that? Well, if you want to test it, maybe you should tune in to FX on Thursday nights for “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Prepare to be offended, but prepare to LOVE it.
“Sunny” revolves around a group of misanthropic friends who own an unsuccessful bar in Philadelphia. There’s Mac (Rob McElhenney), a jealous, self-proclaimed meathead, whose enthusiasm earned him the role of “The Brains” in the gang’s A-Team paradigm. Then there’s Charlie (Charlie Day), a constantly angry and definitely illiterate inhalant abuser who, clearly, lives up to his role as “The Wild Card.” There’s Dennis (Glenn Howerton), a vain, promiscuous “glam-rock” fan who hit his peak in high school and is constantly striving for that superficial existence once more as “The Looks.” His sister, Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson), was unpopular in high school and is constantly fighting for acceptance both as an actress and a member in the gang. This did not stop them from assigning her to “The Useless Chick,” however. Finally, there’s Frank (Danny DeVito), Dennis and Dee’s (and possibly Charlie’s) father, who financially supplies the gang’s shenanigans and comes up with many of his own as “The Muscle.”
In the first season, the Gang (also writers and producers of the show) was definitely portrayed as self-absorbed, manipulative and misanthropic. But they attempted to maintain a bit of the characters’ humanity. As the show has progressed into its fifth season, they have (much to the fans’ delight) abandoned that and just let these characters become, quite simply, the most horrible people on Earth. But that’s precisely what makes this show so brilliant and so hilarious. They are not afraid of diving right into any topic, no matter how controversial, and disregard all reality and all common decency.
A sampling of the topics addressed in previous episodes: abortion, pedophilia, welfare, crack, racism, alcohol, cancer, gun control, death, molestation, Iraq, charity, God, politics, patriotism, the mortgage crisis, dumpster babies, North Korea, sexism, the recession, retardation, serial killers, registered sex offenders, the homeless, the Mob, the gas crisis, interventions, cannibalism. And that’s just the start—I am not joking when I say that they literally cover everything. But with lines like, “Hi, I’m a recovering crackhead, and this is my retarded sister that I take care of. I’d like some welfare, please,” the Gang goes so far over the line that their deadpan parody is abundantly clear.
There are no consequences for these characters: They get addicted to crack, set buildings on fire, make terrorist threats and always ruin other innocent people’s lives. In the next episode, it’s like it never happened—and that’s what allows the series to continue and each episode to exist strongly on its own. The characters are constantly manipulating and plotting against each other in a way that should be appalling (Frank: “There is nothing more threatening to a man than a woman who is smart and attractive. We have to pretend you’re both!” Dee: “Wow, you’re a horrible father.”), but viewers can just delight in the fact that, no matter what happens, Mac will always be scheming up ways to make money or get revenge, Dennis will always be trying to seduce women for his own profits, Dee will always be recovering from the boys’ incessant attacks, Charlie will always be dressing up in costumes and/or threatening others in his own way (for example, he asks for more money from the Mob by demanding “many, many thousands of green people from history times”), and Frank will always be…well, Danny DeVito.
This show has sparked a sort of pop culture phenomenon: When Charlie mentioned last week that his favorite food is “milk-steak” (steak boiled in milk and honey), it became the number-one searched item on Google that night. They took their musical “The Nightman Cometh” to a few live venues in New York, California and, of course, Philly, and tickets sold out in minutes. And, if you’ve ever seen anyone running around in a full-length green polyester jumpsuit, now you’ll know that they’re emulating one of Charlie’s characters, Green Man. If you’re still offended by any of the examples I’ve described, fine. Don’t tune in. Just be prepared to miss out on a good failed-abortion joke or two.