When a season premiere of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia rings your doorbell, it’s like a flaming bag of dog shit dropped at your feet. You’re frantically trying to stomp it out, feeling violated, targeted, helpless and generally freaked out. Until that doorbell rang, your sense of order and calm was strong and evident. Now, the only thing that’s strong and evident is the overwhelming smell. Yet, deep down, in your soul of souls, you know this is funny. Your respect for the joke and the jokesters is grudging, but it’s there. And you’re gonna have a story to tell for the rest of your life.
The fact that a series this sociopathic, sour and coldly cringeworthy has made it to Season 11 really says something about us as a people. In our new apology culture, where it’s forbidden to dislike or be disliked, where humor is OK as long as it has been okayed in advance by social justice warriors, and where freedom of speech is essentially banned by those who cherish freedom of speech, we actually have another season of Sunny. Sunny just shut you down, bitches.
In addition, a glut of “peak television” doesn’t have the balls to shove Sunny into a corner. It won’t be shoved; it does the shoving. It won’t bow out gracefully — YOU bow the fuck out gracefully. It won’t acknowledge the New World Order. It simply continues on its unpredictable zigzag way, like a mean pinball, inducing lots of noise, bells and whistles, determined not to know where its going, but all eyes are on it.
Sunny stays true to what it originally was, when it was creator Rob McElhenney’s YouTube vision, made for less than $200. Its ‘tude was just slightly ahead of its time, with the mantra that would launch a thousand social media stars: “Do it yourself. You’re funnier than anything the suits and the committees can conjure up.” So it was written; so it was done. Like an ironic scene out of Network, the suits (and the critics) loved it. Punchline: say hello to the FX Networks’ longest-running series in its history.
Here, the Always Sunny cast gives us a tease. Dig:
Rob McElhenney [Mac]:
We just looked around at all the series that were on television at the time and we just wanted to try something completely different. We only do ten episodes a year, so even though we’re going into our eleventh season, most shows would be in the 250-episode range. We’re only at 140 episodes, so that makes it a lot easier for us. And we still love it. And it only takes us six or seven months out of the year to do; that’s a big factor in us continuing to love it, and want to recharge for six months and come back and do it again.
Glenn Howerton [“Dennis”]:
We’re taking a lot of big swings this year. I think for me, each character takes on a mentality that actually exists in the world. Not just in Philly, but in the world; and then taking that point of view, that sort of mentality, to the furthest extreme, taking it to its legitimate end. That’s what interests me. That’s what keeps me going back year after year. For as crazy as the characters are, that’s what keeps it relatable, even though you watch it and think, “I don’t know why I relate to these people because they’re insane.” Each character’s point of view is relatable; it’s just that no one would ever take it to the extreme that these characters do.
Charlie Day [“Charlie”]:
We’re trying a lot of new, fun episodes. Ever since maybe the third season, we like to have an episode or two a year that is atypical of the structure of our usual episodes. One is from the point of view of Frank [Danny DeVito]. We also have a ski episode where we went up to a mountain, which was really exciting, then we are going to have one on a cruise ship. For these characters, it’s real; they’re 100% invested in all these crazy things that they’re doing.
Kaitlin Olson [“Dee”][On an Oregon girl nailing the hard-bitten Philly- girl character]:
That must really speak to the writing. I don’t know if I ever thought about it. I’m just trying to make it funny.
Danny DeVito [“Frank”]:
The characters have a good time. We care about each other. We take care of each other. There are no boundaries. We are very anarchistic, but when the bottom line comes down, we don’t want to hurt anybody. [Being a part of this show] makes you get up in the morning, instead of dragging your feet when that alarm clock rings. I would do it forever. I could call this place home until the sand runs out.