Have you ever wondered what Danny DeVito would look like if he stripped completely naked and concealed himself in a leather couch? Probably not. In any case, the pint-sized actor has taken a step back from Matilda and other pre-watershed entertainment projects and joined the cast of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (IASIP) – arguably the most politically incorrect, caustic and jaw-dropping television comedy since Curb Your Enthusiasm. It also sports the catchiest theme tune of any sitcom currently on American TV..
In South Philadelphia, friends Mac, Charlie, Dennis and Deandra own and run the least successful Irish themed pub in the city (possibly the world), hampered by an inability to refrain from getting soused on their own stock or offending every single living organism that crosses their path. In fact, their people skills and sense of self-awareness are so poor that most of their social interactions end in a lawsuit or an attempt on their life. It’s as if Norm has stumbled into the Twilight Zone and found himself immersed in a subverted version of the Cheers bar; a strange polar opposite world where no one knows your name and they kick you in the gonads on a whim instead.
The single biggest pleasure of IASIP, and the characteristic which makes it so unique, is its unabashed hedonism and unbridled capacity for cruelty, the central trope being ‘pain’. The ‘gang’, as they commonly refer to themselves, driven solely by selfishness and narcissism, indulge in extreme bouts of manipulation and emotional bribery, finding nothing more pleasurable than watching their best friend or sibling fail in spectacular fashion, often as a result of their own design. An archetypal storyline reads like this: Frank, suspecting his daughter Deandra of plotting to kill him, subjects her to a battery of mental and physical torture regimes as the two bicker over a substantial inheritance claim. In short, they’re the most reprehensible characters you’ve ever had the good fortune to meet.
Now that the sixth season is already underway, with several hundred atrocious acts to their name and no controversial topic left unturned, they have firmly cemented their lamentable status in pop-culture and continue to wallow in the misery and tears of their foes to the delight of American audiences which begs the question: why can’t you join in with them?
Sadly, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, along with Community, Lucky Louie and Breaking Bad, has yet to see the light of UK television’s day let alone a cautionary graveyard time slot. Even FX, normally the last port of call for criminally overlooked programmes, has somehow managed to miss the boat on this one, probably because they’re still riding high on the crest of The Wire‘s wave.
Perhaps it isn’t wise to sing the praises of yet another American series at a time when broadcasters are getting slammed for not pioneering enough home grown talent but one thing remains certain: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is better than The Inbetweeners, Phone Shop, Peep Show and Outnumbered. Put together. Period.