It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Season 4, Episode 1-2
As many of the episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as I have seen, and as many of them as I have reviewed for this site, I have always enjoyed them with bated breath. They are generally pretty funny in their own right but I can’t help that little whispering voice in the back of my head warning me that the other shoe is bound to drop. For a show with no real direction that can be described as controlled chaos at best, I have complained in previous reviews that the show was beginning to rely too much on a shock and awe approach rather than creating their own mythology that could carry the show through weaker episodes. I went back and watched a handful of old episodes on DVD before I previewed the first two episodes of season four: “˜Mac & Dennis: Manhunters’ and “˜The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis’. What I found out was that in their avoidance of being stuck with a label, they have created that mythology by default. They have taken Seinfeld’s mantra — “Nobody learns, nobody hugs” — to unforeseen heights.
If you heard the title “˜Mac & Dennis: Manhunters’ attached to any other show, you would probably have a simple idea as to the nature of the episode. With a show like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you have to expect something far more ridiculous. And it is. While Frank (Danny DeVito) confuses events from his past with that of John Rambo (yes, that John Rambo), Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) set out to actually hunt a man, deciding along the way which act of sexual perversion to unleash on their victim once he is caught. Meanwhile Charlie (Charlie Day) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) fear they have become cannibals and scour the local homeless for subjects to eat now that they “have the taste.”
By contrast, the title “˜The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis’ leaves little to the imagination other than how can these characters turn such a seemingly innocent premise upside down. Here’s a quick spoiler: they do, and through such simple means. By trying to sell barrels of gas door-to-door and branding Dennis and Dee’s biological father a terrorist when he decides to give away their money to a Muslim community center.
In these two episodes alone you get a stop to the local morgue for the purpose of dining, a dash of racism, suggested necrophilia, intentional food poisoning, sexual harassment, more racism, breaking and entering, torture by way of waterboarding (how current events), and a face burnt off by a blown fireball for good measure. Or, pretty much any typical day in the life of these characters.
After watching a batch of episodes I have come to the realization that this show sets out to be nothing more than it presents itself at face value. A group of twenty-something’s who genuinely care about nothing but themselves and keep winding up in situations that just so happen to deal with a variety of controversial topics. Embracing the controversy is what they do best. Straying from that path would do them more damage than good. This episode from the upcoming fourth season is the show at its most manic. Being brash and offensive for the sake of being so is a slippery slope, but if this show has proved anything it’s that it can be as offensive as it wants to be as long as it is so over the top that you have no choice but to laugh. It is in their relentless pursuit of spinning their own wheels that makes the show tick. They would like nothing more than to continue doing what they have been doing for three seasons while we sit back and revel at how insane the whole thing is. It seems almost fitting that the creators are developing a new show for FOX called Boldly Going Nowhere. So long as they stay on track, at the very least we are in for a fun ride. Even if it only gets us back where we started.
And there’s the rub.
Catch season 4 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Thursday’s at 10pm EST on the FX Network.