Last Thursday, the nation rejoiced as the hit sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia aired the first episode of its sixth season. Only five years ago, its first episode was entirely filmed and edited by three friends with a camcorder and a non-existent budget.
Fast forward to today and the series has expanded into a nation-wide phenomenon scoring endorsement deals from Dave and Busters and Coors Light and a multi-seasonal contract from Danny DeVito himself.
Its enormous popularity resides in the dark humor and outrageous events following five ego-centric, narcissistic bar owners. The entire premise of the show starkly contrasts the cheery, Everybody Love Raymond-like situational comedies that have saturated TV channels since the mid 1990’s, promising a long-needed breath of fresh air.
Thursday night’s episode was no exception; the gang tackled the issue of marriage in the most twisted, ungraceful and hilarious manner the FCC would allow.
This episode went back to its roots as seen in the first season: a relevant social topic became the conversation of the conflict with Dee acting as the voice of reason. In this way the writers, Glenn Howerton (Dennis), Rob McElhenney (Mac) and Charlie Day (Charlie), convey an argument while creating an inappropriate setting for the characters to create mayhem.
The new episode took a stance on gay marriage as Dennis and Frank try to get married to solve fiscal issues, Dennis marries his high school sweetheart after reuniting for less than a couple hours and Mac attempts to convince his ex-girlfriend that she is in a gay marriage with a man. Yes, you read that right. As expected all hell eventually breaks loose, topped with yelling, screaming and sometimes physical engagement.
In the past few seasons the show has taken off in a separate direction, however. The writers turned up the craziness-factor while unfortunately tuning out the contextual plot elements. Recently, we have seen the gang not fighting over whether or not it is sensible to own a gun for protection but instead imitating Extreme Home Makeover, participating in dance competitions and throwing grenades into cars.
We do enjoy watching tempers fly and people make fools of themselves in the most radical manner possible, however, where is the line drawn? The humor in sitcoms results from our ability to associate with the situations present and recognize that the character’s actions are exaggerated or inappropriate.
When a situation becomes too irrational or non-relatable, such as Dee becoming a surrogate mother, how well can you relate to and understand the actions and thus the humor? The new season recognizes this argument and returns to its original formula.
It’s Always Sunny has been constantly noted by critics as being eerily similar to Seinfeld, and they are correct in that no matter the circumstances each character will act in his or her own self interest and incite riotous behavior and never learn a lesson at the end of the day.
This formula is what people love about the show: no matter what we always know that Dennis will seek self-validation and put others underneath his vanity and inflated ego, and that gives us comfort. The new season brings such promise and excited not only to dedicated fans but newcomers as well. Look forward to twelve more insane episodes of the characters you know and love rambling about in reckless, side-splitting fun.