Binge TV: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

By Sidney Butler

via Den of Geek
via Den of Geek

Nine seasons from 2005 to present. Season 10 currently airing on FXX.

In 2004, Rob McElhenney approached his friends Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day with an idea that eventually became the cult hit, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Using their own cameras, Day, Howerton, and McElhenney shot an episode for less than $200. FX picked up their pilot but changed the original location, Hollywood, to McElhenney’s hometown of Philadelphia and renamed the series. After the tweaks and changes, Rob, Charlie and Glen decided they needed a female perspective and they found it in Kaitlin Olson.

Mac, Charlie, Dee, and Dennis are four selfish and deranged losers who co-own the deteriorating bar Paddy’s Pub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Together, along with Dee and Dennis’s stepfather Frank (Danny DeVito), this gang of narcissistic misfits find themselves in various strange situations, from dumpster babies to crack addictions.


Mac: The most normal character in the group. When one member of the gang loses all sense of reality, Mac offers his (slightly) realistic view of the world. For examples, I recommend “The Gang Buys a Boat” (season 6, episode 3) in which Mac has a perfectly normal reaction to Dennis’s famous “implication” scenario. However, Mac does tend to take his dedication a little too far, getting him into intense and outrageous situations (see season “Mac and Charlie Die,” the fourth episode of season five).

Charlie Kelly: The dumbest member of the gang. While the other members think thoroughly through their paranoid schemes, Charlie blindly goes with the flow. As he lusts after “the waitress,” believes he has cancer, and tries to become “king of the rats,” it is clear Charlie is a little loose in the head but his dimwitted nature only makes him that much more likable.

Dennis Reynolds: A full blown sociopath. He uses his personalized D.E.N.N.I.S. method to get girls and then throw them away like garbage. His narcissistic tendencies blind him from reality altogether. Even though he is the most educated (he graduated from UPenn), it is clear that Dennis is morally the worst member of the gang.

Dee Reynolds: with her twin Dennis, they make up Tweedle Dee (literally) and Tweedle Dum. The two don’t usually get along, as Dee tends to be the punch line of everyone’s jokes (because she’s a woman!). Dee’s overconfidence and delusional sensibilities get her into wacky yet comedic situations, making her the funniest character on the show.

Frank Reynolds: A millionaire who acts like a hoodrat. He is hardly ever clean and lives in a repulsive one-bedroom apartment with Charlie. Frank’s incapability of thinking like an adult make him the most immature character. If you don’t believe me, just skip to “Who Pooped the Bed?” (season four, episode seven).

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is easily one of the funniest and most audacious shows on television. Each series averages about ten episodes (twenty-two minutes each) so you can binge it pretty easily. The characters say and do the most politically incorrect and outlandish things but the wittiness of this ensemble makes them characters you find yourself gravitating back to, wondering what they will do next.

Over the past ten years, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has never faltered in tone. The characters never gradually learn from their mistakes and it’s a constant array of half-brained schemes with slight political commentary. The show is timeless and hilarious. The episodic format makes it a comedy you can watch out of order and still enjoy it in its entirety. It’s everything you want in a comedy and more.

Sidney Butler is a staff writer. Email her at


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