‘It’s Always Sunny’ Season 15 Has Something To Say — and Always Will

Officially the longest-running stand-alone comedy in television history, “It’s Always Sunny” tackled pandemic times like never before in its fiery 15th season.

[Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Season 15, Episode 8, “The Gang Carries a Corpse Up a Mountain.”]

After a quick look at the title, two things are immediately clear about the season 15 finale “It’s Always Sunny”: Dennis (Glenn Hurton), Dee (Caitlin Olson), Mac (Rob McElhenny), Charlie (Charlie Day) and Frank (Danny DeVito) will be carrying A corpse up the mountain. But as certain as the promise set forth in writing is its inevitable consequence: they will bring down this body. Maybe more than once. And it will be very funny when they do that.

Such a simple premise might seem a far cry from where Season 15 began: the gang have been making their way to some recent blunder in America. Mac and Dennis fuel allegations of voter fraud in the presidential election. Frank’s illegal hair dye business during the lockdown insults Rudy Giuliani on TV. Dee and Charlie created the costumes that became popular during the January 6 Capitol attack.

If “2020: A Year in Review” is a satire that cites its sources, then “The Gang Carries a Corpse Up a Mountain” sounds the opposite. It’s a situational comedy where the situation is spelled out in the title, and the jokes stem from well-established character dynamics or old-fashioned slapstick. But it’s also a clever, targeted satire. The fifteenth season finale concludes with a collection of stories set during the gang’s journey to Ireland, including Mac’s identity crisis, Frank’s feelings of abandonment, and Charlie’s new father. The latter topic serves as the catalyst for the episode, given that his body was taken to Chile (Colm Meaney), but it’s a team effort to make the end point – and the season – broader:

American narcissism has become the dominant personality trait in the country, and it harms far more than its own citizens. In the midst of a global pandemic, such a potent combination of entitlement and indifference can pose a deadly contagion like COVID. After all, it was not only the disease that killed Shelly, but the negligent people who gave it to him.

The 15th season kicker is a big, bold statement for a series full of it — perfectly timed to the moment we all live in, as well as a record-breaking year for “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Now the longest running stand-up comedy in TV history (surpassing “Ozzie and Harriet”‘s 14 seasons”), the show’s cast and creators talked about what they’ve set out to do this year, and every year, during a recent press conference.

“The things that make me laugh is when my friends say things I haven’t necessarily heard before,” said Kaitlin Olson. “It’s not like they’re trying to get shock value, but what makes me laugh is something I’ve never seen up front like this before. I think that’s part of why this show was so successful. We all have a very similar sense of humor and share that feeling. I think that’s why there is The chemistry we have.

It’s just so natural to us — our sense of humor is probably closer to the bone than the others,” said Charlie Day, co-author and star. ‘I don’t think we make a conscious effort to advance [limits]. It’s just what we find funny – our view of the world and human behavior. Year after year, I feel like there is a feeling [that the show is] Kind of edgy, but I don’t know. I think our show is only realistic.”

“Just like the world is pushing forward, we’re just mirroring what’s going on in the world,” said Danny DeVito.

As the world spins off its axis, Sunny has tilted accordingly. Unlike a lot of older or extended series, few fans or critics claim that the newer episodes pale in comparison to the old classics. Notable events in the final episode span from one-off bizarre adventures (season 12 “The Gang Goes to a Water Park”), poignant personal moments (season 13 “Mac Finds His Pride”), clever community satire (season 14, “The Gang Solves Warming”). Thermal”) and even a clever commentary on pop culture (season twelfth titled “Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy”). The gang just keeps hitting blows.

“It’s always sunny in Philadelphia”

Patrick McElhenney/FX

The obvious question is: How? Little has changed at Paddy’s Pub. The characters remain stagnant in their personal and professional lives, somewhere between “cartoons” (as McElhinney refers to them) and “real people” (as Day still sees them). Even as the world turns, the windowless bar that houses most episodes is pretty much the same.

But the series itself is still innovating. McElhenney, who is the show’s director, has put in a long effort to bring in new voices to liven up the writers’ room and keep the core production team on the alert. In 2016, they brought in Megan Gans, who not only became an executive producer and writes some of the series’ best episodes (including the fifteenth season finale), but also co-created the Apple TV+ series “Mythic Quest” with McElhenney.

“Whether the characters can remain myopic or not, I don’t think showrunners should, because the show can’t evolve,” McElhenney told IndieWire earlier this year. “The characters may not evolve, but the show needs to evolve. So how do I do that when I’m sitting down to go into the writers room and sit down to plan the next season of the new show? I have to look at it like, ‘Okay, well, why am I doing this anymore?’ Do I just want to do another TV show that will last for 15 years? Or do I want to do something that continues to challenge me, scares me a little, and gives me the opportunity to do something I’ve never done before? “

The cast reflects that creative hunger, even after 15 seasons embodying the same characters.

“I’ll say, living in character for 15 years, it’s a very unique experience that not many people can do,” co-author and star Glenn Hurton said. “I feel that one of the biggest challenges in writing the show is to keep exploring who these people are and finding new ways for them to express themselves despite the fact that they have very well-established personality traits.”

“It’s interesting to go and do other projects and realize, ‘Oh, I have to work on this,'” Olson said. “I’m like, ‘Who is this guy, and what’s the background? Why is this character upset? I never have to worry about why I’m upset. D. She’s always upset. I just get in and out of it – I don’t really think about it. I try to say ‘fuck’ in different ways because I’m starting to get bored of the ways I’ve said it in the past.”

Steaming the old standby is a useful practice in the group, but not how the book handles the new episodes. There was a two-year hiatus between Sunny’s 14th and 15th seasons, and while part of that was due to delays in pandemic production, McElhenney never wanted to make the show seem like a mandatory endeavor.

“As much as we like [producing the show], and we also don’t want to put on a show that doesn’t deserve the audience’s time, attention and love.” “We feel like we’ve reinforced that over the past 15 years, and we want to make sure we finish a season of ‘Sunny’ that has what he has to say — that’s interesting, and still fun. It is still funny, and satire is at its highest. Sometimes that takes a little longer, especially as later years come in. No matter how much fodder the world seems to keep producing for us, we want to make sure we get it right.”

Kaitlyn Olson in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

Prashant Gupta / FX

“I kind of feel… maybe it’s a responsibility,” Day said. “When there are major world events, I think our show is a nice platform for people to be able to process them through humor. I know I felt the same way about The Daily Show when Jon Stewart was as well. [hosting]. I think South Park did it really well. And I think we still have a show that’s a safe space for the audience to be able to laugh about that kind of thing.”

Season 15 gave viewers plenty to laugh about, whether by paraphrasing the national news or simply watching a corpse fall down a mountain. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia continues to find new highways for fun and continues to put up revealing road signs along the way. It seems that as long as the creators remain engaged in the world, they will be excited to talk to him through this show.

“At the end of every season, I start to feel like, ‘Okay, that’s it,’” McElhenney said. “And then a few months go by, and something crazy happens in the world, and I want to write jokes about it, and then I’m glad we still have a chance to do it. Because we will never have a chance like this again. Yeah, we’re going to have all kinds of other shows and things like that. But “Sunny” is very specific, a unique way of looking at the world and the ability to scorn the things that happen. I love what you said earlier, Charlie, about handling difficult information. There is something about these characters that gives us the opportunity to process information in a way that I don’t think anything in the future will allow us to do. It’s unique in that way.”

And 15 seasons, it still is.

The 15th season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is available to stream on Hulu. The series was renewed during the eighteenth season on FX.

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