With cable channels doing more original programming, this is a really exciting time for television. Shows are allowed to explore new territory and break boundaries. They aren’t expected to compete with the major networks for ratings so they are able to take chances and explore. It’s Always Sunny would have gotten a handful of episodes before either being cancelled or neutered on a major network.On FX, Sunny has recently completed its seventh season and reaches new level of depravity.Often described as Seinfeld on crack, it follows four self-involved barkeeps (& their twisted father figure Frank played by Danny DeVito) as they are continually sabotaged by their own egos and stupidity.
The show’s biggest break-out star is Charlie Day who plays simpleton janitor Charlie. He’s hands down the heart of the show. I have a friend who compared him to a grown-up Butters from South Park. He’s the innocent of the group, too dumb to have much malice, and his unrequited crush for the unnamed Waitress (played by Day’s real life wife) never takes on a sexual nature. Day’s greatest skill as a comedian is his ability to improv high strung anger. When frustrated, he often bursts into rants, showing how little he understands about the world around him.
Kaitlin Olson is one of the fiercest women in comedy as Sweet Dee. There is nothing she won’t do. Her character has been addicted to crack, pretended to marry her father, possibly dated a retarded person, and thought she was a cannibal for an episode. She is also the best dry heaver on television. The character was added as an afterthought (in her audition she read lines originally written for Dennis) but she made sure Sweet Dee would never be the voice of reason and would always be as bad as the boys.
The character who has undergone the most development is Dennis (played by Glenn Howerton). He started out as just extremely vain and narcissistic, but over time has slowly revealed a much more deranged side of the character. Dennis is clearly the most haunted member of the gang. He has a very high opinion of himself (the man has called himself a golden god) and often loses it when others aren’t appreciating his greatest to his liking. You have to give the actor a lot of credit for making this psycho so hilarious. Dennis’ logic as he scams women into “doing his bidding” is so ridiculous that you can’t possibly take his views on the world seriously.
I read an online debate about which character is the most morally reprehensible. Many said it was Dennis for his growing psychopathic tendencies, but others claimed it was Mac (played by show creator Rob McElhenney). Some argued Dennis’ obvious mental illness keeps him from being held accountable for his actions, while Mac is aware of right and wrong, but always chooses whatever is best for him. Early in the series, he lectured the gang about how abortion was ungodly, only to quickly change his tune when he learns a girl he met at a pro-life rally might be pregnant with his child. I often have trouble getting behind Mac, because more than any other character, he has rules for everyone else, and rules for himself.
Danny Devito’s Frank is probably the show’s most polarizing character. The show has changed quite a bit since he joined the cast in season two. Early on, the show had a political tinge to it. Each episode had an issue at its core (like racism or underage drinking) and the humor stemmed by these four selfish, stupid people reacting to it. With the addition of Frank, the stories started to revolve around the relationship between the main cast and their band of wacky side characters. This allowed the characters to grow but in many ways, they have become less and less like real people over time. Season one Charlie could get a girl’s number and had an ex-girlfriend who reenters his life with a possible son, fast forward to the current season, Charlie is an assexual man-child who lives is absolute squalor.
It’s hard to say if the show would have been able to last long with the characters being functional members of society.I know someone who said they found the earlier seasons less enjoyable because the characters’ selfishness was harder to stomach when they weren’t so extreme. But I really wouldn’t change anything about the show. For a show to be so consistently, deliciously wrong without becoming unwatchable is a true accomplishment.
Mac Bangs Dennis’ Mom, Dennis & Dee go on Welfare, Sweet Dee Dates a Retarded Person, Mac & Charlie are Dead (Parts 1 & 2), Who Knocked Up Sweet Dee?