Hey, do you know what the longest-running live-action comedy in cable history is?
Well, after it finishes its twelfth season next year, it’ll be It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. This will also tie it with My Three Sons for the second-longest-running live action comedy in TV history.
As the president of FX himself has said: ‘Not bad for three guys who shot a pilot 10 years ago for $200 and a few pizzas.’
Somehow this crass and transgressive show about awful, awful people is about to leap into the history books.
And it absolutely deserves to.
We at Pajiba are big fans of Mac, Charlie, Dennis, Dee, and Frank. Especially Dennis. It’s Always Sunny is one of the great examples of an iceberg show, as at first glance it just seems to follow a group of venal, amoral narcissists who get involved in preposterous schemes which invariably explode in their faces and destroy the lives of those around them, all while they yell over each like a troupe of rabid monkeys.
Crucially, though, all of that is amazingly funny. And that’s not an accident, because beneath the surface lies a fantastically sophisticated and well-oiled sitcom machine. The writers on the show (often the principal stars themselves) understand structure, tempo, and rhythm like the cream of their profession, and on top of that they aren’t afraid to tackle weighty themes, routinely and mercilessly skewering racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, greed, the class system, ignorance, and virtually every other possible human vice or bigoted viewpoint.
But all of this is well known and has been well discussed elsewhere. What I wanted to focus on today is a facet of the show that I think is often overlooked: its imagery. It’s Always Sunny is a richer show visually than perhaps many people realise, starting out in its early days with a deft understanding of a great sight gag and a skill for packing a pleasantly composed frame with resonant (or just vile) imagery, and only developing this more and more as time went on and budgets increased. Strange costumes; ruined backdrops; off-kilter symmetries; incidental and crucial details; negative space — It’s Always Sunny knows how to prepare a tableau.
So here then is part two (seasons 7-11) of a chronological celebration of the mad, gonzo imagery of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
‘I have a touch of consumption! I THINK I’VE BEEN POISONED BY MY CONSTITUENTS!’
‘I’M SORRY, RUM HAM!’
‘I’m gonna whip this little bitch in the face if she makes a peep!’
‘You guys…dropped the tipping point?’
‘I think Dennis is getting a handjob in the back.’
‘Tools! TOOLS! Zip ties, duct tape, and gloves, I have to have my tools!’
‘You like what you see?’
‘One of them babies tried to eat me! I ATE HIM FIRST!’
(P.S. That’s Guillermo Del Toro!)
‘No, it’s your neighbour!’
‘Not writing. Drawing. Drawing conclusions.’
‘Oh you want feelings? Oh I have something for that.’
‘Yeah, dude, Charlie’s looking right at me!’
‘Science…is a LIAR sometimes!’
‘Look I didn’t come over here to be criticised by a man stuck in a coil!’
‘But my mom rigged hers with a special pouch…’
‘I just wanna be puuuure…’
‘Finally, my friends, the time has come. We have the means, the understanding, the technology… To allow spiders to talk to cats!’
‘It’s time now, to wipe the slate clean!’
‘She took a ride on the carousel!’
‘Hopefully everything down here has been properly painted and put where it’s supposed to be!’
‘Are you a man-cheetah?’
‘Alright, I’m done dancing like a monkey, give me my five bucks, Charlie!’
‘Well that’s cos we’re not cats. So, then… How do we…?’
‘Which brings us to Frank’s flag.’
‘You guys are back on crack; Frank brought strippers back to my place; we’re all bumping into each other at the welfare store; and yet I’m the only person who thinks it’s 2006!’
‘Anything’s possible on the mountain, man!’
‘Frank! Play. It. Subtle!’
‘They’re doing something with Russian hats and I need to know what it is.’
‘Ladies and gentlemen, Royal McPoyle!’
‘I refuse to pay alimony to a goddamn cat!’
*’Stealers Wheel’ plays*
‘So wait, wait, wait, we’re just gonna drink straight boat fuel?’
Sunny, we are not worthy.