It’s raunchy. It’s tactless. It’s problematic and highly offensive. But here I am, an unabashed feminist, confessing my greatest sin in a written publication: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is my favorite television show of all time. The dark comedy follows the misadventures of five Philly-born-and-raised pals who own and operate a wildly unsuccessful bar.
Like most foul-mouthed, ill-humored comedians, the actors and writers in “Sunny” have to be taken for what they are: foul-mouthed, ill-humored comedians who make hilarious jokes in incredibly poor taste. The show will have you doubled over in hysterics — that is, if you can withhold your critical thinking lens to enjoy 22 minutes of nonsensical and raunchy humor.
Without further ado, here are my Top 10 “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episodes.
10. “Mac Day”
“Mac Day” gives Mac the upper hand on the rest of the gang. After all, it’s his day, and his word rules. While the rest of the gang follows his lead, Mac introduces his cousin, Country Mac, who is simultaneously an exact copy and the polar opposite of good ol’ City Mac. It’s a smart strategy employed by the writers to confirm some popular fan theories. And, hey, who doesn’t love seeing Mac get bit in the butt by his own bluffs?
9. “Who Got Dee Pregnant?”
Much to the shock of the rest of the gang, Dee reveals that she’s pregnant … and someone from the gang is the father. It happened on Halloween night at the bar, Dee says, and it’s up to the rest of the gang to piece together the blurry points of what actually happened through a “The Hangover”-esque fragmented recollection. Of course, there’s a delightfully funny twist at the end of the episode, but I won’t spoil it for you.
8. “The Gang Dines Out”
What could have been a dull filler episode from the show’s eighth season ended up being one of the most GIF-ed and referenced episodes from the show’s entire run. “The Gang Dines Out” has an unusually simple premise: Dennis and Mac go to their favorite Italian eatery for their weekly BFF date, only to find that Dee, Frank and Charlie are spending the evening at the restaurant, too. The episode is a laughably dramatic play-by-play of the gang’s efforts to pretend they haven’t noticed each other. Spoiler alert: it’s painfully obvious to everyone involved that they’ve all noticed each other’s company.
7. “The D.E.N.N.I.S System”
Arguably one of the show’s most cringe-worthy episodes, “The D.E.N.N.I.S System” reveals Dennis’ tried-and-true system for winning the hearts of the ladies of Philly. Dennis could definitely benefit from a feminist intervention; his system breaks all sorts of boundaries of consent, respect and, frankly, common sense. If not for a tentative laugh, this episode provides insight into rape culture and makes even better fodder for critique.
6. “The Gang Beats Boggs”
“Boggs” is a particularly clever, relatively new episode of “Always Sunny.” A sloppily-drunk gang attempts to top baseball player Wade Boggs’ mile-high drinking record, much to the chagrin of a very frustrated flight crew. The episode hails from the show’s 10th season and is smartly structured to parallel the sport of baseball, America’s favorite and arguably most corrupt pastime. It’s a good laugh for anyone who follows baseball culture.
5. “Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games”
It’s a classic “Always Sunny” episode, and it’s very, very funny. The Gang introduces Frank to their made-up trivia-slash-drinking game, which they’ve dubbed Chardee MacDennis. Frank’s first round of the game goes hilariously wrong, and viewers get a glimpse into the verifiably messed-up lengths that the “Always Sunny” gang will go to to kill their boredom.
4. “The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby”
Unpopular opinion time: “Dumpster Baby” is a hilarious and highly underrated “Always Sunny” episode. The plot is a simple but laughable one; Mac and Dee stumble upon a baby in a dumpster outside Paddy’s Pub and decide to raise the baby (whom they lovingly nickname D.B.) as their own in lieu of handing him over to Child Protective Services. Ever the clever duo, Mac and Dee even try to profit off of poor D.B. as a child model, taking it so far as to bring the baby to a tanning salon to break him into the non-white child model market. It’s a twisted one, that’s for sure.
3. “The Gang Gets Analyzed”
Many television show fanatics harbor not-so-secret fan theories about fictional characters personifying mental illnesses, emotions, sins, etc. The writers of “Always Sunny” play off of this, bringing the whole gang to Dee’s therapist to, as the title suggests, get analyzed. Dennis shines in this episode; although he attempts to do the majority of the analyzing alongside Dee’s therapist, he inadvertently sheds light on his creepy and highly manipulative tactics for keeping the rest of the gang under his control.
2. “A Very Sunny Christmas”
Like a sparkling Christmas tree or a chocolate Easter bunny, “A Very Sunny Christmas” is a holiday delight. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t rewatch the episode at least four or five times during the winter holidays. The episode brings to light the troubling realities of Charlie and Mac’s childhood Christmas traditions, all the while confirming our lingering suspicion that Frank Reynolds is the most sadistic, twisted fictional father figure of all time.
1. “The Nightman Cometh”
Charlie’s musical episode is another “Always Sunny” classic for a reason: the lyrics and concept are pure comedic genius, playing off of his childhood trauma that may or may not have happened. With the whole gang wrapped up in the musical number as the starring actors, “The Nightman Cometh” is twisted and contorted by the gang in the most hilarious way possible. What Charlie hoped would be a light-hearted, charming musical ends up being a darkly funny and mildly uncomfortable experience. But, hey, we get a glimpse into that boy’s soul through his masterful composition (after we pay the troll toll, of course.)