Some day, the birth of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will be considered something of a television legend. Three 20-something friends produced and starred in a dirt-cheap TV pilot and shopped it around to cable networks before finally getting it picked up by FX. After a brief first season, the show was nearly canceled but was renewed at the last minute. By some miracle, they got Danny DeVito to be a new main character for season two and the show began to attract a larger fan base. Now, the irreverent brand of comedy served on It’s Always Sunny has made it one of the biggest hits on FX.
Despite its success, the show has maintained its welcoming “independent” feel. The three friends who started the show—Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Charlie Day—still write, produce, and star in the show. Danny DeVito and Kaitlin Olson round out the main cast and other than a handful of supporting characters, there aren’t a ton of other people in the show. The show doesn’t rely on lavish, expensive sets. Instead the characters are often just hanging out in Paddy’s Pub (the bar that they own and operate), their apartments, or the streets of Philadelphia.
The show focuses on The Gang, a ragtag group of friends who own Paddy’s Pub, designated in a previous season as the Worst Bar in Philadelphia. Perhaps the reason their bar is so bad is because they spend their time doing anything but working in it. In season five alone we see The Gang attempt to: exploit the mortgage crisis, give Frank an intervention, break up a wedding, write a movie script about a crime-smelling scientist, reignite a flip cup rivalry, put on a wrestling show for Iraq War troops, and pick up women using Dennis’s patented D.E.N.N.I.S. system of Seduction. I use the word “attempt” because their plans, be they selfish or (occasionally) noble, almost always end in disaster.
The show is often referred to as “Seinfeld on crack,” but Dennis, Mac, Charlie, Frank, and Sweet Dee make the characters on Seinfeld look like charitable, caring individuals. They are rude, crude, and unbelievably self-centered. And these characters, affectionately known as The Gang, are really what drive the show’s comedy. Sure, they get into some hilarious situations, but these stories are only funny because we feel like we know these characters and we can better appreciate how they react to one another and their (often) unfortunate circumstances.
The fifth season of It’s Always Sunny features some of the show’s funniest moments to date. Just a few of the highlights of the season include: Dennis and Mac setting up a Match.com account for Charlie and coaching him through a disastrous date; Sweet Dee attempting to become a surrogate mother for a couple while practicing jackknifes off their diving board; Dennis, Mac, and Frank discovering they each have their own unique plan for picking up women; and Mac and Dennis breaking up.
There are some humorous and worthwhile special features here, as well. Six of the 12 episodes include commentaries featuring members of the cast. These are interesting and often funny. For some reason, celebrity therapist Dr. Drew is featured on two of the commentaries. He alternates between attempting to make jokes and attempting to diagnose the mental and behavioral problems of The Gang. This is strange for two reasons. First, he isn’t that funny or entertaining to listen to; and, second, although we know the Gang is screwed up we don’t really care about the textbook names for their behavioral problems. These are fictional characters who are crazy and hilarious; can’t we just leave it at that?
There are also video dating profiles for most of the characters (perhaps inspired by the hilarious scene in “The Waitress is Getting Married” in which Dennis and Mac create an online dating profile for Charlie). Though sadly, Charlie is missing from these clips. An endless loop of the Kitten Mittens and Dream Sequence Photo Montage are also included in the DVD set. Extended/Deleted scenes and a blooper reel round out the special features, but the real value of this DVDs comes in the hilarity of the twelve season five episodes. This is a must for fans of the irreverent, crass humor of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.