Soon to be heading into its thirteenth season on FXX, "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" is not your typical sitcom. There's no lesson learned at the end of the day, nor do the characters rise above their predicaments, improving as the series progresses.
The show is a simple concept: a group of terrible people runs a bar in South Philadelphia, delving into schemes for self-gain.
There's Charlie, the janitor, whose illiteracy and lack of hygiene blend with habits such as eating erasers. His roommate Frank (played by the iconic Danny DeVito), a millionaire businessman who enjoys promiscuous activities and ironically prefers a "life in squalor." Then Mac, the self-proclaimed "muscle" of the group, who is in a fight to the death with his own sexuality. Dee, the sole female of the group, lives a delusion of being a talented comedian and actor. However, her brother Dennis is the worst of "The Gang," and arguably one of the worst characters to ever grace television. From hints of being a psychopathic serial killer to erotic desires, to extreme narcissism, Dennis' rage "knows no bounds." With characters so extreme and low class, what makes IASIP the most important sitcom that's currently airing?
1. In regard to situations, the show is quite realistic.Giphy
The term "sitcom" is short for "situational comedy". Despite its absurdity, the situations in IASIP are more realistic compared to other sitcoms; The Gang just escalates everything in their pursuit of self-gain. You're more likely to get stuck in a water slide for the day than meet Elon Musk at a soup kitchen (looking at you, Big Bang Theory).
2. Real-world issues are addressed.Giphy
We live in a television culture where shows actively avoid numerous topics, like dodging lasers in a spy thriller. This is in order to avoid alienating audiences. Sunny does not do that. Instead, Sunny runs through the lasers, setting off as many as possible to see who will stop them. This lack of restraint has produced amazing episodes such as "Gun Fever: Still Too Hot", an episode that continues to age well in which the Gang takes sides on the gun control debate.
Perhaps you'd be interested in "Reynolds vs Reynolds: The Cereal Defense", which still remains one of the most solid creation versus evolution arguments I've heard. Even so, my favorite episode that's tackled a real-world issue is "The Gang Turns Black". In this episode, the Gang is struck by lightning and wakes up well....black. Easily controversial, the episode touches on racial happenings such as assumptions, Black Lives Matter, and police brutality. It's produced one of the Charlie's only wise quotes: "we have a lot in common, but too much of it is fear" (it's also a musical, for you musical lovers). Best of all, the show is mostly apolitical about the whole ordeal.
3. Surprisingly, the characters remind us of our own humanity.Giphy
Trust me, I'm not a cynic. I'm not calling you a narcissist, sexually confused, or even illiterate. However, the Gang reminds us every episode of what it's like to be a human, and to have flaws. Charlie does have a lack of hygiene, though he does take pride in his work, and does have a person in his life that he loves, even if the feelings aren't reciprocated. Dee is quite delusional, though don't we all want to be seen as possessing a good sense of humor? Oftentimes, Mac isn't honest with himself, which is often difficult to do.. When first introduced in the second season, Frank wanted acceptance into the group, something that hits too close to home for many. Finally, the self-idealism of Dennis is just an inflated reminder of the unwillingness to be flawed, or vulnerable.
The show may not be as popular as "The Big Bang Theory," or "Game of Thrones," but "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" continues to push the limits of modern television. With the topics addressed and taboos being broken, it's a miracle the show hasn't been canceled yet. Yet, that's what comedy is: pushing limits and breaking down institutions. I'm looking forward to the show's thirteenth season.