One of the most controversial series on television returned this past week for it’s seventh season, and one episode in, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” is once again pushing the boundaries of the situation comedy.
The long-running series, known for it’s dark and twisted bar-owner characters (devoid of any social graces or ethics) kicked off the fall run with a continued deconstruction of TV norms. The premiere tackled the notion that as shows progress, characters (and the actors who play them) get better looking, and mocked the long-running writers crutch of using weddings to mix-up casts and introduce new story lines.
In the first episode of the season we learn that Mac (played by series creator Rob McElhenney), long known for his obsession with weight and physical fitness, has gained 50 pounds, and now lives off junk food… specifically Mexican food. After the gang from Paddy’s confronts Mac on his appearance, he and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) find themselves at a doctors office, where Mac is diagnosed with diabetes, and his overly-skinny friend is now suffering the effects of an eating disorder. McElhenney has said that he gained the weight for the season because it would make for funny story lines, but it no doubt was also meant to poke fun at actors of long running series who tend to get hotter, skinnier, and tanner (think the overly bronzed cast of “Friends” in the later years). In the end, Mac brings Dennis around to the idea that they aren’t twenty years-old anymore, and he should embrace fat and the Tommy Bahama shirts that come with it.
The other main story line features Frank (Danny DeVito) and his plan to get married to a prostitute. The gang attempts to reform her in a re-creation of the film Pretty Woman, but she’s no Julia Roberts… she’s a crack whore… literally… who brings out Deandra (Kaitlin Olson) and Dennis’s prior addiction to the drug. The episode is filled with classic Sunny train-wrecks, including a denim clad Charlie coughing up blood capsules on an internet date, a crack-induced rant by Roxy and Sweet Dee in a clothing boutique, and the gang leaving a dead Roxy in the hallway so they don’t have to call the police.
While most shows reaching their seventh season have a tough time keeping the comedy fresh, Always Sunny continues to stay funny and relevant by tackling the usual cliches head on. I am looking forward to seeing where the “Fat Mac” story line goes, and can’t wait to see what else is in store for this year. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia airs Thursdays on FX.