After ten series, Why is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia so laugh-out-loud good?
By Jacob Gauntlett,
As a brand-spankingly new casual contributor to 45 Magazine, I don’t really have any important deadlines to reach, I don’t have many (if any) responsibilities and I certainly don’t have a pool of readers awaiting my next article so they can religiously follow my beliefs without properly researching or watching the program in question (yet). So in other words, I have pretty free reign over what I can choose to review. When speaking to Jayna Patel, the Film and TV Editor at 45 Magazine, I mentioned about wanting to do an article revolving around a reasonably well-known, though completely unappreciated, comedy series. She informed me that although 45 tend to focus more on science fiction and the world of superheroes, I was welcome to write it up, much like a parent letting their child ride their bike without stabilizers for the first time, even though they fear they may fall…if the bike was a poorly assembled arrangement of my thoughts…the stabilizers was advice…and the fall was ridicule and trolling from the internet masses.
BUT I put to you that the comedy series I speak of is not too unlike the Marvel world or the intergalactic. They all share similar traits: they have all developed a cult following that stabilizes the franchise due to constant demand; they all take the risk of alienating part of the population to better service their followers. The series I am talking about is It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (I shall now refer to it IASIP to cut down on the cursives I use whilst trying to spell Philidel%&cx$!$!) is a show unlike any other comedy series. It has almost evolved into an anti-sitcom, picking apart all the normal conventions associated with the generic situation comedy. Comedy series are popular due to relatable characters, relatable situations and ‘wait-for-it’ punch lines (insert laugh here kind of stuff). IASIP has none of this. Where New Girl has a ‘will they, won’t they?’ relationship between Jess and Nick, IASIP has a multi-season-spanning-stalking. Where Modern Family has a family feud at a barbecue, IASIP has an episode called, quite literally, Sweet Dee’s Dating a Retarded Person.
The beauty of IASIP is that they are able to tackle any type of issue, from cancer to incest to the ‘problem in North Korea’ (and everything in-between) and they can do this due to the completely unstable and un-relatable characters. The characters are sociopaths, you don’t watch this and relate to the character, you laugh at their ignorance and you ponder the amazing fact that some people, somewhere, do actually think in a similar way.
Over the course of the series the characters have grown and developed in the most amazing, unusual ways. Possibly my favourite moment within IASIP is the quite literal growth of the character Mac. Mac is played by the creator of the show, Rob McElhenney, who said this in an interview with MTV in 2011:
“Vanity is such a huge part of television, and if you watch any average sitcom, you notice that the actors get better-looking as the years go by. And I caught myself sitting in the editing room last year, looking at myself, and I said, “Man, I don’t look very good in this scene; I should try to find a different shirt or something next time.” And I realized, “Wow, that is the first time I’d ever really thought that.” So I realized I needed to go in the extreme opposite direction. It’s always been our goal to do the opposite of what any sitcom on network television would do, so that’s what I did.”
For season 7, Rob gained 3.5 stone for his character Mac. During that time he developed type Type 2 Diabetes (which he turned into a hilarious scene), all for his love of the show and development of the character. It’s this type of dedication that resonates with the fans and means that IASIP keeps a constant appeal to its audience.
IASIP is a very personal show with one of the main characters, Kaitlin Olson (who plays Dee) being actually married to Rob McElhenney in real life and yet they mock and assassinate her character constantly throughout the show for her birdlike features, massive hands and deformed skeleton.
I haven’t even mentioned the brilliance of Charlie Day, who I personally believe is one of the greatest characters that has ever been created for television. Or even the fact Danny DeVito is the disgusting and hilarious Frank, ‘father’ of two of the main characters. There are so many things to cover when talking about IASIP, I think the best thing to do is just to implore for you to watch it, discover it yourself.
IASIP is currently in the middle of its tenth season, with over 100 episodes under its belt, something that most series can only dream of and it is already commissioned for another two seasons at the very least. There are two kinds of people in this world, one that will devour all 100 episodes of IASIP within a month of watching their first…and one that will delve back into their Friends 10 season box set for the seventy-thousanth time.