I just finished watching the first two seasons of the FX situation comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and I have to say it’s absolutely fantastic. Quirky and irreverent, it’s what you’d taste if you took the banter of Ed, the setting of Cheers, the pointlessness of Seinfeld, the offensiveness of The Family Guy, and the camaraderie of every Judd Apatow production, tossed ’em all into an apple cider press, and then ate the leftover pulp – you know, the part that most people throw away.
The show catalogs the idle conversations and aimless pursuits of three friends – Dennis, Charlie and Mac – who own an Irish pub named “Paddy’s” as well as Deandra (“Sweet Dee”), Dennis’s twin sister who tends the bar. Each episode pivots on a bizarre idea or scheme suggested by one of “the gang” with the other members agreeing or opposing for some reason or other. In each episode, the antagonistic characters often cite seemingly altruistic reasons for their opposition, but as the episode progresses, a self-motivated explanation typically surfaces. The characters also frequently switch positions during an episode, setting the stage for humorous bits of dramatic irony.
The most impressive aspect of the show is the level of consistency across the first two seasons. It’s widely known that most good TV shows, like leftover lasagna, get better over the first few seasons as the cast, writers and producers find their rhythm. But Sunny starts out shockingly funny and manages to persist in its comical impudence right through to the end of the second season – a feat that even Joss Whedon’s brilliant but disappointingly short-lived sci-fi-action-drama-comedy-western Firefly wasn’t wholly able to achieve. Those who know me will understand this comparison as the highest sort of praise, bordering on sacrilege tantamount to Charlie’s blasphemous declaration in one late Season 2 episode that he could be the messiah because he once did well in a carpentry class and doesn’t know his dad.
Perhaps one reason that the show gels so well is because it’s written and produced by the actors who play Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Charlie (Charlie Day) and Mac (Rob McElhenney). It’s not hard to imagine these three guys sitting in a room and simply writing down their conversation as the rough draft of a script for each episode. Plus, because Sunny was produced in 2005, it’s cohesiveness does not emulate or rely on the varying success of the glut of recent “buddy films” starring Seth Rogan and his cadre of Apatowites – a definite positive.
The show currently has completed four seasons, and the rumor is that it will run for at least another three. I just hope that they continue to be as good as the first two seasons have been. Because while shows tend to get better the first few seasons, there’s also a point where a they simply becomes tedious and repetitive. It would be a shame for a storm cloud to rain on Sunny‘s picnic simply because they took too long to pack up.