'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

A depraved, in-your-face television hit does Philly proud.

By Brian McManus 
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Sep. 8, 2009

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Nightman!: Winner of multiple Tony Awards in the very near future.

Photo by Image courtesy of FX

“The first thing you notice upon entering Paddy’s Pub is its charm. It has none.”

So go the first two lines in a review written by the Inquirer declaring Paddy’s “the worst bar in Philadelphia.”

And how.

Vietnamese immigrants play Russian roulette in the basement of Paddy’s. Bums masturbate in the bar’s back alley next to gasoline-filled barrels. Paddy’s even offers safe haven for underage drinkers. On the bright side, “stabbings are down,” though they still happen with alarming frequency, according to the bar’s owners.

Those owners: Dennis Reynolds, Charlie Kelly and Mac (last name unknown). They hunt men for sport. Turn men of the cloth into homeless wrecks. Order Chardonnay, and they’ll call you a faggot. 


Reynolds, a shallow and vain former crack and ecstasy addict who’ll go days without food if told his face looks fat, videotapes his sexual partners without their knowledge, and is liable to pop his shirt off without a moment’s notice. 


Mac, the meathead of the bunch, has Jackie Chan and Patrick Swayze (in Roadhouse ) delusions of grandeur, an aversion to sleeves, and is known to bang trannies and his best friend’s mother.

And then there’s Charlie. He’s illiterate, is a known stalker, smells terrible, doesn’t own a toothbrush, huffs paint and glue, and subsists on a diet of cat food, wolf hair and beer.

These are men set adrift in the world with big ambition and no compass, moral or otherwise.

Welcome to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: a dark, depraved, in-your-face, rule-breaking, whipass kinetic ride of high voltage and raw nerves. Or, put another way, one of the most hilarious shows on TV. 


The show hit the airwaves in summer 2005 with all the subtlety of a fart in church. It began by chewing up and spitting out taboo subjects, and never looked back.

Tune in on any given week and you just might see the silhouette of a penis being jammed through a glory hole, or hear talk of bleached assholes. Nothing is sacred, and everything finds its way into Sunny ’s riflescope: abortion, pedophilia, incest. 


“We ask ourselves, ‘What part of our culture are we not seeing anywhere else on TV right now?’ Then we explore that,” says the show’s creator Rob McElhenney over the phone from Los Angeles, where he’s currently editing Sunny ’s fifth season (premiering Thurs., Sept. 17 on FX at 10 p.m.). McElhenney portrays Mac and is one of the show’s writers and its executive producer, along with Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton, who play Charlie and Dennis, respectively. 


“Oftentimes that brings us to things or topics that aren’t necessarily PC, and that alienates a certain part of the public,” adds McElhenney. “But it’s a certain part of the public we just don’t care about. That doesn’t make them lame or wrong—it just means we’re not for them and they’re not for us.” 


The show centers around Paddy’s Pub and Mac, Charlie and Dennis—“the Gang”—and Dennis’ sister Dee, played by actress Kaitlin Olson (McElhenney’s real-life wife). Each week these not-so-lovable losers set out to conquer a new task—the gas crisis, the “North Korea problem,” the writing and marketing of sex memoirs, getting elected to office—but end up failing miserably at every turn to hilarious results. 


“They think they’re the underdogs that are eventually gonna come out on top and they’re just simply not,” says McElhenney. “Rocky is such a huge part of the identity of Philadelphia, and I feel like these characters definitely believe the hype.” 


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1. Jenny said... on Sep 14, 2009 at 12:28PM

“Uh...where the fuck is Sweet Dee? You stupid, misogynist fuckers.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Sep 14, 2009 at 04:17PM

“Uh...read the story, dipshit. She's quoted in it.”

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