Few shows on television take as many risks as the FXX sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Completing its eleventh season on Mar. 9 and with a twelfth season on the horizon, “The Gang’s” risky nature keeps them fresh and relevant.
While the 10-episode season had its low points, its highs were innovative, delightful and genuinely hilarious.
The two openers “Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo” and “Frank Falls Out the Window” are arguably the weakest out of the lot. Relying heavily on callbacks to earlier seasons, the two episodes offer little more than reminding audiences of past episodes and jokes.
“Chardee MacDennis 2” is a continuation of the seventh season’s “Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games.” Its derivative humor is only mildly entertaining, but it’s funniest moment comes from the Gang’s use of intravenous alcohol. This is a consequence of Dennis and Dee’s cheating in the previous episode.
“Frank Falls Out the Window” synthesizes the entire first half of the second season into a 30-minute episode. Frank, suffering from amnesia induced by a fall, acts out his character arc from the earlier season as if it were 2006.
The eleventh season truly shines in its most adventurous moments. “The Gang Hits the Slopes” is a satirical celebration of 80’s ski movies, a truly niche genre. The episode hits all the right marks—Dennis plays an impeccable 80’s douchebag villain, with Mac and Dee acting as the rebellious teens who just want to party.
“The Gang Hits the Slopes” is an episode so out of place amongst the entirety of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, however its uniqueness and sheer ridiculousness make it a breath of fresh air.
“Being Frank” is arguable the best episode out of the entire season and the most unique out of the series as a whole. The entire episode is filmed from the first-person perspective of Frank and perfectly captures the maniacal zaniness of his character. It also explores a side of Frank rarely seen—his time away from the rest of the Gang.
The two-part season finale “The Gang Goes to Hell” is the culmination of everything the series has been building towards in terms of character development. Its cold open sees the Gang talking to what can only be assumed is God. After running amok on board a Christian cruise, the gang finds themselves trapped in the brig as the cruise ship begins sinking.
In these episodes, the Gang’s debauchery and poor character are placed front and center. Dennis demonstrates “the implication,” an early season concept involving the dangers of the open sea and the implication associated with the refusal of sexual advances. Charlie and Frank find themselves wrecking the ship in search of something to drink. Dee ends up punching out a magician’s teeth. And Mac finally admits that he’s gay, however this discovery results in his realization that God doesn’t exist.
Episodes like “The Gang Goes to Hell” prove that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is remarkably self-aware and willing to take risks no other show would. The series has not been this radical since Rob McElhenney, who portrays Mac, gained 80 pounds for an entire season.
If the twelfth season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is as adventurous and hysterical as this one, the series will assuredly be renewed for a thirteenth.