It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (2005)

Bonkers, brash, & unapologetic with a ragtag team of degenerate main characters, penchant for exploring brazen adult comedic themes, metaphoric treatment of social topics, & satirically-elegant twinkling score in-juxtaposition, IASIP’s the perfect anti-sitcom. 9.2/10.

Plot Synopsis: Depraved underachieving might look easy, but for the egocentric Mac, Charlie, Dennis, Frank and Dee, it’s an artform. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” follows ‘The Gang’ the owners of the un-successful Paddy’s Pub; a group of degenerates who loves nothing more than to scheme, conspire, & mostly revel in eachother’s misery. Whether gaming the welfare system, exploiting dumpster babies, pretending to be crippled, pretend policeman-ing, or faking funerals, The Gang never stoops too low in the name of fun.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

CLC’s Best #ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia Episodes: 1. Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games, 2. Charlie Work, 3. The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award, 4. The Nightman Cometh, 5. Underage Drinking: A National Concern, 6. The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis, 7. The Gang Beats Boggs, 8. Paddy’s Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia, 9. Being Frank, 10. Hero Or Hate Crime?, 11. Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy, 12. Sweet Dee’s Dating A Retarded Person, 13. Mac & Dennis Buy A Timeshare, 14. Gun Fever: Still Hot, 15. The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon, 16. The Gang Goes Jihad, 17. The Storm Of The Century, 18. Bums: Making A City-Mess, 19. The Gang Solves Global Warming, 20. The D.E.N.N.I.S. System

Season-By-Season Reviews: S1 – 7.6/10 / S2 – 5/10 / S3 – 8.7/10 / S4 – 9.6/10 / S5 – 9.2/10 / S6 – 3/10 / S7 – 9/10 / S8 – 6/10 / S9 – 7.5/10 / S10 – 9.5/10 / S11 – 8.7/10 / S12 – 7.9/10 / S13 – 3.2/10 / S14 – 9/10

Official CLC Review

Bonkers, Brash, & Bedlamatic

The Premiere Game-Changer Comedy TV Series Since ’05 – A Brazen, Boundary-Push, Bonkers Anti-Sitcom

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Bonkers, brash, boundary-pushing, and bedlamatic, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been one of the premiere game-changer comedy TV series since it first premiered back in 2005 – a $15 pilot by comediennes and kids with no prior proven track-record of excellence deciding to give a F U to the established status-quo by going darker and more savage approach. Choosing a no-holds-barred motif of aiming for the loftiest and previously-untouched-on-TV comedic themes – with writing flair and an immaculate collection of whack-o disenfranchised degenerate main characters and the sensational Danny Devito in its arsenal – it quickly built a cult following as a perfect bizarro-comedy – now through 14 seasons and counting (with no end in sight.) One of the premiere series loosening the nuts-and-bolts of TV/comedy and showing the potential demographic-slews available to mature, hard-R entertainment specifically-geared towards 18+-older only, Sunny’s legacy is a strong one. Bonkers, brash, & unapologetic with a ragtag team of degenerate main characters, penchant for exploring brazen adult comedic themes, metaphoric treatment of social topics, & satirically-elegant twinkling score in-juxtaposition, IASIP’s the perfect anti-sitcom.

The Adult Comedic Themes

From Gun Control To Abortion To Politics, IASIP Defines The Paradigm Of Savage Comedy – & Navigates w/ Grace

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

From terrorism to abortion to racism to gun control to molestation to drug abuse to social media to ‘woke’ culture to politics to sexuality to medical conditions to violence to capitalism to climate change to MeToo, tackling controversial, purposely-uncomfortable topics and spinning them for comedic brilliance is the series’ M.O. and ballsily-distinguishing achievement. While the vast majority of series would get tangled in the web of taking on such tricky and heated topics, IASIP’s greatest strength is how masterfully it guides the landmine field without offending anyone regardless of viewpoint on the matter. Through strong comedic writing, it paints both sides of the issues without once getting overly-political or side-leaning, only making you laugh at previously-thought unlaughable topics in sublime showings like ‘Gun Fever Too: Still Hot’ portraying both sides of the gun debate before criss-crossing them so as the people on each side are swayed to the other side by the end of the episode while also learning politicians/media are exploiting them both either way – also given levity by their team of magnificently-blended and developed character work. Fitting hand-in-hand with glove-like snugness is IASIP’s sensational gang of degenerates meticulously fleshed out and developed over the 13 seasons and counting.

The Characterization & Performances

A Cast Of Depraved Underachievers Brought To Life By Career Performances – & The Legendary, Iconic Danny Devito

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

The true genius of IASIP is how it takes & presents a series of characters that would be considered the antichrist to any regular sitcom – caricatures of the American Dream and disillusioned, dysfunction, disenfranchised pub owners who spend their days trying to find some sort of scheme to keep them entertained enough to prevent wallowing in the self-pity of the realization they’re doing little to nothing practical and productive to society. There’s macho-masquerading closet homosexual Mac by actor/show-creator Ryan McElhenney: the most strikingly-brilliant caricature of Americans I’ve ever seen on TV from the anti-science/abortion/LGBTQ+ rhetoric [only to later accept the fact that he IS what he used the Bible to fight] to gatekeeping/fake Christianity farcized to woozy comedic proportions how much he ‘loves’ Jesus to overcompensation by [over]-perceived physical prowess/badassness and superiority-complexes. Following, there’s the most psychiatrically-fascinating of the bunch: Charlie Kelly, perhaps the darkest of all characters in IASIP being a failed-abortion product of a prostituted mother growing up in a nightmare of [Nightman-personified] child sexual-abuse – only to become a dyslexic, glue-huffing rat-basher/janitor shockingly at least ~normal while being extremely investable by his goofy personality. The Reynolds twins are fantastic: narcissistically-delusioned high-school peaker and suave Ivy League-dropout playboy Dennis masking psychopathic sexual/power-hungry tendencies with ‘Golden God’ fantasies,and bullied-‘Bird’ failed-actress craving stardom she will never achieve [+ antithesizing Mac’s superiority complex with an inferiority one] while also playing off toxic masculinity themes by being the constantly-belittled/silenced only woman of the group Sweet Dee. These all convalesce into the show’s MVP and ultimate cool-grandpa: Danny Devito’s trollish, chortling, pudgy, obstreperous group-financier leaving the world of big business for a simplistic life with his best-buddies Frank, completing the ragteam team of comedic stars for a once-in-a-lifetime cast of bromance chemistry, group dynamicism, and interplay that carries the entire show.

The Characterization & Performances

A Cast Of Depraved Underachievers Brought To Life By Career Performances – & The Legendary, Iconic Danny Devito

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

The arrogance masking ignorance and bro-conversations they have are truly a remarkable and wildly-unique flavor of comedy: for example having full-length discussions of gay sex terminology like bears, twinks, and twunks – right in front of a gay man they’re trying to woo into re-buying their bar [while getting mad at him for interrupting their endless conversation, in his office!]. Even the cameoing side characters are great in their own respects too all victims of The Gang’s degeneracy-shenanigans: priest-turned-junkie Cricket, The (apparently-nameless) Waitress, Old (Black) Man, Hawky, the incest-y McPoyles, catty/bad-dad Ponderosas, Mac and Charlie’ weirdly-complimentary Moms, Ben [The PSTD-Laden] Soldier, the raspy-voiced and loco-wrestler The Maniac, not-so-retard Special K, Jew & hand-obsessed Lawyers, etc. All this is even further pushed by the satirically-elegant twinkling/orchestral main theme in stark contrast to the insane low-brow mischief and situational comedy on schedule for our heroes every progressively-weirder episode and season. The show’s pilot was reportedly ordered for a mere $85 by show creator Ron McElhenney – alone qualifying it as one of the most endorsable underdog stories in TV history parlaying into a 14-season, 150-episode empire with no end in sight. Part of that smashing success – apart from the depraved comedic hoolum gags as addressed above – is the surprising inclusion of cinematically-impressive showings of textbook technique & intellectual flair as well. The all-one-long-shot episode Charlie Work in S10, zombie horror film The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre, all-POV Frank-transportive episode Being Frank, showstopping interpretive dance coming-out sequence in Mac Finds His Pride, murder-mystery arc in Mac Is A Serial Killer, and differential storyline/perspective showcasing The Gang Saves The Day in S9 all make for incredibly-advanced showings of substance in a film that should (and has the right to by its premise) have none.

The $85 Pilot & Technique Inklings

A True Philadelphia Underdog-Story With Some Of TV’s Most Impressive Use Of Metaphor, Editing, & Comedic Style

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

There is perhaps no better example on TV of the power of editing: here a separate character in the series entirely by how brilliantly and cleverly utilized every episode: sharp cuts often transition into sarcastic/sardonic black-comedic jokes made at the expense of the gang through every episode’s title-card, as well as in multiple other ways as the show’s defining stylistic characteristic. The fan-favorite episode The Nightman Cometh – apart from being a tragically-dark play about Charlie’s past growing up in child abuse by his Uncle Jack (Nightman) – also socially commentates on the gang’s dynamic with clear parallels to George O’Neill’s 1939 Play in name The Iceman Cometh focusing on alcoholics in existential crisis drowning their sorrows away in their own saloon (sound familiar?) and Maxim Gorky’s 1901 play The Lower Depths about justifying painful truths by masking them in delusional lies just like The Gang does every day. Wow. Finally, best of all: there shockingly isn’t even a decline in quality as seasons roll – even 13 Seasons in, the show is just as funny as it was in S1-2, a testament to the writing and comedic staff actively avoiding a trap almost every other show of public interest falls into in a reciprocal curve of quality and season-count. It’s a downright pleasure to tune in every week and see how the gang consistently finds new ways to screw up every conceivable situation or real-world problem they (pretentiously)-think they can actually solve but end up leaving a trail of bedlam, comedic degeneracy, & ruined lives behind them in their wake.

Flaws

Chaos & Shrill Pitches Earlier On; Gross-Out Comedy In Parts – The Weakest Aspect; Non-Changes As An Unfair Advantage

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Flaws in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia include a shrill pitch for much of the early seasons, some lowbrow/juvenile gross-out or too-far comedy in parts, and a purposeful but easier removal of changes by-seasonn. Many of the show’s characters like Charlie and Mac talk at a really high frequency/shrill pitch – one that is exceptionally noticeable in the (comparatively-chaotic, but hilarious) early seasons before being reigned-in later-on. On the topic of early seasons, Frank’s entrance in S2 is handled very poorly: a shame since he’s easily the best character in the show deserving a far less-awkward and abrupt introduction. The comedy sometimes detours from smart metaphoric treatment of societal topics and savage hard-R adult comedy into lowbrow/juvenile or insensitive in others: like farting, burping, pooping, the McPoyles, and way over-borderline stunts such as Charlie and his mother faking they have cancer (twice) to swindle people out of money and Frank making Dee and Dennis dig up and see their dead mother’s corpse (out of a.. *checks notes*.. prank). Finally, while it’s the point of the show being the antithesis of classical sitcoms and The American Dream with its characters not really changing or achieving much as the seasons pass, that is obviously easier to write material & rake up episode counts on having that safety than traditional comedies promising massive changes, character shifts/shake-ups, and finality in stakes with every passing episode and season.

Conclusion

One Of TV’s Funniest Series

A Brilliant Anti-Sitcom Amalgamation Of A Legendary Gang Of Ragtag Degenerates & Brazen Hard-R Comedy

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Overall, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a side-splitting Philly-based sitcom that showed you don’t have to teeter on politically-correct comedic topics to get a laugh, but can expand the boundaries of schticks if accompanied by the writing prowess to do so. The cast is absolutely irreplaceable and have grown their characters over 14 years into a beautiful machine of dysfunction, psychological damage, and savage American Dream gone wrong black-comedy. From the closet-homosexual, muscle-overcompensating Bible-freak Mac satirizing American fake-Christians to narcissistically-delusioned Ivy League-dropout playboy Dennis to failed-actress and bullied-woman Sweet Dee to the wildly-dark failed-abortion/child-abused backstory of rat-bashing janitor Charlie to the show’s MVP: ultimate cool-grandpa and high-life rejecting financier of these group shenanigans Frank, the character canvas is near-perfect as it achieves nothing and even messes up the lives and causes of everything in its path [while somehow thinking things are always going well]. Sunny also technically works as a workplace comedy at one of the coolest workplaces one could image: a bar, and somehow succeeds at entertaining for 14+ seasons and entirely-different world/cultural outviews without having their characters really grow or change in any particular way [both a majorly-impressive accomplishment as the point of their low-achieving loser gang, and a flaw by its ~easier-to-write copouts often also resorting to lowbrow gross-out comedy it’s hard to intelligently-watch]. Bonkers, brash, & unapologetic with a ragtag team of degenerate main characters, penchant for exploring audacious adult comedic themes, metaphoric treatment of important social topics, & satirically-elegant twinkling score juxtaposing it all, IASIP is a great Philly-based sitcom.

Official CLC Score: 9.2/10