It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a show about the dark, twisted underside of sitcoms. For years, sitcoms convinced us to root for horrible characters. Laugh tracks and bright lights stopped audiences from truly analyzing the deeper intent behind a lot of characters’ actions. It’s Always Sunny set itself apart by refusing to gaslight viewers into accepting antisocial behavior as normal.
To put it another way, the show forces audiences to confront the darkness of humanity. By so doing, it forces viewers to laugh at humans’ basest nature. That is, to laugh at ourselves. Even better, the show defies the happy ending sitcom formula. Sometimes, life does not have a happy ending. This is especially joyous to viewers when this rule applies to the horrible characters that appear on the FX show.
10 When Frank Decided To End It All
The gang decides to take on the 2008 financial crisis after Frank loses all his money in a ponzi scheme. The city sees an influx of “new poor,” who, unlike Mac, do not know how to survive being poor. A new poor himself, Frank cannot comprehend living life without his ill-begotten wealth.
To that end, he decides to end it all. Known as the warthog in business circles, Frank’s neck is too fat for the job. He swings on the rope from his neck, as Dee reads a newspaper in the background. In true Sunny style, the rest of the gang are also not too concerned with Frank’s steep mental health decline.
9 Charlie’s Mom
Charlie’s Mom is an enigma. She is soft-spoken, kind, loving, innocent, yet incredibly filthy. To put food on the table during Christmas, Mrs. Kelly would invite a lot of Santas to the house for milk and cookies. In fact, her “open for all” policy would lead to the break in the case when Mac’s dad is accused of a crime he did not commit. As both men were with her just before the crime was committed, she is able to testify to what really happened.
Poor Charlie is traumatized by his mum’s long-standing behavior, and he often screams at her in horror when she bares all.
8 Mac’s Mom
Mac’s mum does not love him. A woman who communicates in grunts, and smokes all day, Mrs. Mac is incapable of looking beautiful. Yet, Mac, unable to process his childhood trauma, tries to convey an image of a beautiful, loving mom to the rest of the gang.
Nonetheless, he finds this task exceedingly difficult, because Mrs. Mac smells “earthy,” and, in her own words, like a toilet bowl. When she is not constantly announcing her need to use the bathroom, she is spitting into a vase. For Mac, whose self-esteem is tied up in false self-images, his mum unwittingly breaks this image of perfection which he wishes he could achieve.
7 When Mac’s Teacher Didn’t Abuse Him
When the gang learns that Charlie accused a former school teacher of abusing him as a child, they are shocked, albeit unsupportive—well, all but Mac. Mac cannot believe that his gym teacher chose to abuse Charlie rather than him.
He was a cute child, good enough to be abused, and he has the photographs to back it up. To prove that Charlie was not a cuter child, Mac heads to his former teacher’s house wearing short shorts. He is promptly thrown out by the innocent ex-teacher. The truth for Charlie is even more disturbing after audiences hear of his fraught relationship with his uncle.
6 The McPoyles
The McPoyles are the famous “pure breed” family from Philadelphia. Due to generations of inbreeding to keep their bloodline pure, the McPoyles are riddled with many genetic diseases. This has caused them to die out en masse and to have the sick-looking appearance for which they are famous. Pale, clammy, and always misshapen, the running joke about acts of McPoyle inbreeding is also incredibly sick.
Having said that, It’s Always Sunny manages to take a dark joke and make it funny. Despite the McPoyles’ genetic weaknesses, they remain a worthy opponent for the gang, often besting the gang with higher levels of depravity.
5 Frank’s Pretty Woman
No one on this earth—except for Charlie—can love Frank for who he is, no matter how much jeans from under the bridge he shares with them. Frank is gross. So, when he decides to propose to a ‘”professional” woman, Frank demonstrates logical sense. In general, women have only ever been with Frank for his money.
“People don’t change,” he tells Dee after she decides to ‘pretty woman’ Frank’s future bride. What was supposed to end with the bride becoming a sophisticated, classy wife ends instead with a dead prostitute’s corpse abandoned in the hallway of a dingy apartment.
4 The Cult
“Mac And Charlie Join A Cult” is one of many episodes of It’s Always Sunny that explores Dennis’ total control over Mac. Except, the cult episode also reveals a willingness for Frank and Dee to also control Mac for their own benefit: Dee to get her apartment rebuilt, and Frank for his own depravity.
To prove he has the most control over the members, Frank convinces one of the cult members to eat a sandwich made with bodily waste. Even darker, they leave three men who set themselves on fire in the apartment, with none of them attempting to put out the fire.
3 Racism In A Morgue
After catching Charlie and Dee stealing his food once again, Frank punishes them by giving them worms. He allows them to steal and eat some raccoon meat that he leaves out in the open. To mess with them, he lies that it was human flesh. The raccoon meat, on the other hand, gives Charlie and Dee worms, leaving them craving meat constantly. Trying all sorts of illicit meats, such as monkeys, still leaves them craving the raccoon meat. Believing it to be human flesh, they visit a morgue to eat some.
The first body they come across is of a black man. For “not racist” reasons, Charlie and Dee decide to move on to the next man, who happens to be white.
2 The D.E.N.N.I.S System
Sociopath Dennis Reynolds created The D.E.N.N.I.S system to traumatize women into thinking that they love him. The D.E.N.N.I.S system includes stalking, lying to, and manipulating women for sex, harassing and using violence against women to get them to trust you, pretending you love a person for power over them, and then abandoning them immediately after you convince them that you are in love with them. What’s more, Dennis boasts that he has them so deeply traumatized that he can get them back whenever he wants.
1 The Implication
In another of Dennis’ many dark moments, Dennis teaches Mac how to terrify women into having sex with him. In his foolproof plan, he teaches Mac to lure women into positions where they are too scared to say no to sex, “because of the implication.” Confused, Mac asks if Dennis is going to harm these women. Although Dennis denies this, audiences have seen him remind a barely-legal woman about the “implication” of her saying no to his offer for sex.
Rape jokes are always dark. However, they become funny when used as a tool to reveal the inner dialogue of a possible serial-killer sociopath.
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