“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is the longest running American live-action comedy series, premiering in 2005, and running for record-breaking 15 seasons and 162 episodes as of right now. It has been renewed for at least three more seasons after that, bringing it up to potentially 18 seasons airing on network television.
The show was created, written and performed by Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton. It also stars Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito. All of this is impressive, but the most notable aspect is the fact that the show’s quality has provided consistent entertainment with almost negligible occasional dips in quality.
The show’s premise has always been to present five horrible people running a run-down bar in Philly, ruining their and everybody else’s lives, always ending where they started without changing or improving.
Despite that premise, several of the main characters have actually evolved quite beautifully throughout the show’s run, most notably McElhenney’s character Mac. The final episode of season 13 called “Mac Finds His Pride” is a poetic and artistic culmination of almost a decade of buildup on Mac coming to terms with his sexuality, and the only reason why it has so much impact is because of the build up and its longevity.
“It’s Always Sunny” remains a sitcom, but it has become a character study as well. For example, the audience gets to explore Howerton’s character Dennis and his psychopathic tendencies.
The only issue is that there are 17 years of content and buildup of those character studies, and audiences who try to join now and just start with the latest season might miss out on the character development. Catching up on the past 15 seasons would require a serious binge session.
This is why McElhenney’s, Day’s and Howerton’s idea to start “The Always Sunny Podcast” in which they rewatch the show from the very beginning and discuss the process of making the series itself was a slam dunk. Episodes are released every Monday — and some Fridays — giving the three creators a platform to talk about the work that went into the entertainment.
Actually, if I am being honest, the creative process is what gets discussed the least. As of right now, the podcast has covered the first two seasons of the show. Most of the podcast’s installments focus on random subjects like bad parking, how necessary chewing is and whether you can boil an egg without a shell.
The chaos of the podcast — hilariously bad impressions and the ridiculous topics McElhenney, Day and Howerton tackle — are a perfect accompanying piece to the series that they have been creating for 17 years.
In its recent episode “The Guys Take Some Calls,” that aired on Monday Feb. 14, they started allowing people to call in. While that was less entertaining than expected at first, it is beautiful to see the podcast evolve as the series did as well.
The podcast is not perfect, nor is the series, but the will to experiment and showcase the learning that the creators achieve alongside the audience is what made “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” stand out in a sea of sitcoms, and why it keeps going after so many years. It also helps that McElhenney, Day and Howerton are some of the funniest people in the business, and they just keep proving that over and over again, no matter the format.