Few shows are going to go down with a similar legacy as FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. A rarity for sitcom television series, even more so considering the small budget and lack of awards recognition, the series has managed not only to stay on the air for twelve seasons, it’s also largely managed to maintain it’s high quality, pushing boundaries both in narrative and filmmaking styles each year. To create even further surprise, the show has also succeeded in keeping it’s high bar of quality without ever really allowing the characters to grow as humans, rather deriving the comedy from how incessantly these characters were able to stay awful people throughout all of their massive fuck ups, near death experiences and general ass-holery. Sure, Mac finally came out of the closet (for good this time) and Dee and Charlie had a near miss of happiness when they separated themselves from Dennis’s toxicity, but these changes (or drive by changes) have always been small in nature in terms to how we’re supposed to perceive them. Mac may be out of the closet and comfortable with his sexuality but, as the rest of the gang put it, they never cared that he was gay, they just couldn’t stand his personality.
All of this however may have changed with the latest season finale as Dennis, depicted often as the most psychopathic of them all, had a moment of near sighted clarity as he realized he didn’t want to live out the rest of his life in the dingy bar of Paddy’s Pub, continuing to wade in the awfulness that was his and his “friends” lives.
This is a marked cataclysm for the show as we’re unsure just how much we’re to believe Dennis’s change of heart. However, it would befit the shows mold of always managing to surprise viewers despite so little changes being made to the cast lineup, just this time there’s a chance one of the members of the gang will be actually leaving the show.
This is all without mentioning that Charlie finally coerced the Waitress into sleeping with him by telling her it was the only way she could have a baby.
It’s been a season of worth-while episodes, from the opener that managed to be a social commentary on racism to an episode from the point of view of longstanding punching-bag Cricket, to an episode designed to both homage and mock the classic styling of a sitcom. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia always manages to impress because it isn’t afraid to be daring in just how far it pushes it characters. Who might’ve guessed the furthest it would push a character would be into normalcy?
Glenn Howerton has always been something of a silent MVP of the series, quieter in his antics than Kaitlin Olsen’s Dee and Charlie Day’s shrill Charlie and he proves his subtlety in the moment when he looks like he’s saying goodbye to his son. It’s his surprising tenderness in this moment that allows us to buy his exit at the end of the episode, leaving the rest of the gang to sit in the dark bar for a moment before going off and releasing a rocket launcher. It’s business as usual for them.
As for the series itself, we’ll have to wait and see what happens next.