If you are looking for a disturbing, low-budget and morally bankrupt blackest of black comedy shows, then It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is for you. I’m not exaggerating, this thing is virtually non-stop WTF moments and gallows humour.
The brainchild of three friends, Rob McElhenney, Glen Howerton, and Charlie Day, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia began as an idea that Rob had for a short film. It was about a guy that goes to borrow some sugar from his friend, and the friend tries to tell him that he has cancer.
The three then took this film and pitched the show based on it to various studios. It was picked up by FX Network, who ordered one season. Emboldened by this tentative response, the three have since turned it into a filthy, degenerate animal of a show. Honestly, your eyes feel dirty for having watched it.
Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad, surely?
Well, the first season eases us in with a small run of seven episodes. Still finding their feet, these were only mildly disgusting (in comparison to the later seasons, I mean). Obviously there is a lot more to each episode, yet any description I could give would not convey the full, awful, car-crash majesty of each. Here are a few of the titles that stand out for me from season one:
The Gang gets racist. Charlie wants an abortion. The Gang finds a dead guy. Charlie gets molested. Starting to see the general flavour now aren’t we?
Like I say, they started off slow. The show got enough word-of-mouth positivity (somehow) that it was renewed for a second set. At this point Danny Devito joined the cast, which somehow kicked the whole thing down into a new gear of abject depravity.
So It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia isn’t any good then?
Oh no, no, no. Did I give that impression? Well, it’s not merely ‘good’. It is undoubtedly the single finest sit-com I have ever seen in my life. It is ridiculously funny, literally rolling around the floor crying with laughter funny.
All the situations the horrible, spiteful, nihilistic characters find themselves in are awful and sickening. So much so, in fact, that any premise for any of the episodes becomes utterly absurd. Oddly, the more gut-wrenchingly vile the action, the more it all becomes cartoon-like.
I think that’s why it is so hugely hilarious. You are equal parts repulsed, shocked, and guiltily amused. It’s endlessly inventive and every episode is packed to the gills with snappy dialogue, clever set-ups and gross-out pay-offs. It’s genius.
So It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is highly likely to offend?
If you are the sort of person who gets upset ‘on behalf’ of minorities, women and/or the LGBTQIAPK community, then I’d say 100% yes. Don’t torture yourself by watching it. If, on the other hand, you are open-minded and actually possess a sense of humour; hop on board. You’re in for the ride of your life.
Some of the worst excesses include: smoking crack cocaine and pretending to be mentally challenged in order to qualify for welfare, attempted cannibalism, blackface, tricking a man into having his estranged daughter give him a lap dance, huffing paint, and foraging in the sewers for valuables.
Then there are the huge hints that one of the main characters is a serial killer, seducing and then inducing a complete mental breakdown in a priest resulting in the man becoming a meth-addicted hobo, secretly feeding someone their dead pet, and greivously wounding people, then plugging their open wounds with rubbish.
Also: setting a room full of people on fire and locking the door to avoid an uncomfortable Thanksgiving meal, fantasizing about killing each other, pretending to have AIDS in order to get priority access to water park rides, and taking out life insurance on a suicidal person.
I’m sold! Can I bingewatch It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia?
You certainly can friend! To date there are one hundred and thirty four episodes! With twenty more commissioned! I know! I’m excited too! Bearing in mind that the show is written, produced and performed by the main characters, and that it was the first time they had done so, it is a stunning achievement.
The scope and delivery of the material has steadily increased in quality over the twelve seasons so far, and it has become a raging juggernaut beloved of nihilists everywhere. I say, long may it continue!
One final thing: I forgot to mention the Mcpoyles. These are a huge family entirely comprised of the results of inbreeding that are the mortal enemies of the Gang (the main characters). A study in nightmarish mutations and mongoloidism, the Mcpoyles offer some of the shows best moments, be sure to watch out for them on your travels!
What do you think of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? Is it a savage indictment on the human condition? Or just a bunch of jerks acting all jerky-like? Tell us your views in the comments!