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A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: Listen Up, Bitches, 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' Is Stellar


Let me set the scene for you: It was summer 2006, I was on break from college, and, obviously, I had consumed a few beers. I was hanging out at a friend's house, but I don't remember which friend. All I remember is some beer was in my hand, I was cramped on a small couch and my eyes were fixated on an even smaller TV.

And that's when the laughter began.

On that small television was a show that I had heard about, but never really sat down to watch: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

The episode was the second show of Season 2, The Gang Goes Jihad. (If I recall correctly, the first two episodes of the season premiered back-to-back, so this was basically the season premiere too). Netflix says*: "The gang discovers they may lose part of the bar due to a zoning mishap and use unorthodox measures to remedy the situation."

I won’t spoil anything about the episode, but it was the little things — not just the scenes where someone or something blows up — that hooked me to this show. This includes Mac and Charlie getting on Dennis' case for "dropping a hard J," along with the well-played final ten seconds.**



That summer, my brother and I made sure that we watched the tomfoolery of Charlie, Dennis, Mac, Dee and (at that time, the newly added Danny DeVito as) Frank every week. That season was one the show's strongest, with some all-time great episodes of comedy, including one of my favorites, Hundred Dollar Baby.***



It was around that time when It's Always Sunny adapted the tagline: "It's like Seinfeld on crack." I never liked this slogan. It's too unimaginative for a show that's often exceedingly clever. But like the Larry David shows (Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm), Sunny has provided audiences with phrases, quotes, etc. that extend beyond pop culture and into our everyday lives. Nothing can top Seinfeld in this category — shrinkage, the Soup Nazi, "Hello Newman," I could go on — but the Sunny gang has had plenty of quotable moments too. For instance, if you've played flip cup and wondered what's up with the "flip, flip, flip-adelphia' chants, well, you can thank It's Always Sunny for that.****

There’s also the catchy Dayman song (which Portugal. The Man recently covered in a moment of true awesomeness), nightcrawlers, the McPoyles, "Wildcard, bitches," saying bitch a lot, saying bang a lot, Lethal Weapon 5, fat Mac, Charlie work, the charm of Paddy's Pub and so much more to love about this show.



Now, here's my buried lede: If It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is so great, how come it doesn't have the awards to back it up? This one is easy — the folks who hand out these awards have no idea what they're doing.

My other favorite currently on-air comedies also get little respect from the Emmys. This list includes Parks and Recreation, Eastbound and Down (just the thought of Stevie Janowski makes me guffaw), The League and Veep. (If How I Met Your Mother steps it up, it'll make the cut too.) All brilliant, and all crushed by the likes of Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men come award season.

Even if you — for some reason — don't want to recognize the show, at least acknowledge the writing or acting. It's crazy that people can't see that Charlie Day (who plays Charlie) is one of the best comedic actors out there. You could argue that he's a one-note actor or all his characters are the same (a criticism often applied to many comedy actors, including Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler). I would disagree with that assessment, but even if you think that, it's one very funny note! Day's performance elevated 2011's Horrible Bosses from good comedy to funniest movie of the year. He was that good (no one spazzes better than Day, just check out the above clip from Hundred Dollar Baby again). 

And the chemistry/comedic timing between all the main players on this show? It's on par with Seinfeld, and I have no problem saying that.

It's Always Sunny just wrapped up its stellar ninth season. Nine seasons is how long both Seinfeld and The Office ran before calling it quits (though each season of those shows had around 22 episodes, where the FX, now FXX comedy, has 10 to 13 episodes in a season). Even great shows see a dip in quality after that many seasons, but the Sunny gang avoided this curse. (Well, they mostly did. There are a few weak episodes scattered throughout the later seasons.) They absolutely nailed the ten episodes that ran this year, including a creative take on their 100th episode and a great Charlie-centric tale, Flowers For Charlie written by Game of Thrones show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

They also dealt with the years of award snubs in typically terrific fashion. In The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award, Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie and Frank lampoon sitcoms with brightly lit bars, forced sexual tension between characters and cheesy punch lines.

Huge laugh alert: After hearing a bartender in a popular, award-winning establishment tell a customer his signature drink is "better than an orgasm," Mac tries to duplicate the line at Paddy's. He bungles it in a way that had me crying with laughter. Who needs awards when you can bang out this many belly laughs?

In conclusion, bring on Season 10!

*Seasons 1-7 are streaming on Netflix. I think you know what to do.
**Who hasn't had a situation that called for an elongated "oh, shit"?
***Steroid use has never been funnier.
****That line is from another all-time great episode, Season 5’s finale, The Gang Reignites the Rivalry.
A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: Listen Up, Bitches, 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' Is Stellar Reviewed by Scott Pukos on 11/15/2013 Rating: 5

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