Season 8 of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia was something special. It seemed every episode was better than the last, and the show was funnier, raunchier, and, perhaps most strikingly, more self-aware than ever before. That self-awareness was absolutely hilarious in nearly every instance. Almost every television comedy has tried to make jokes about itself through the years, with the result usually ending up somewhere less than excellent. With Season 8 of Sunny, there was even a whole episode with recycled jokes from previous episodes. And it was all brilliant. So to say Season 9 has some high standards to live up to would be a major understatement.
Just as with the early episodes from the prior season, The Gang Broke Dee was written by the brilliant comedy trio of Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney. The episodes where these three take on the writing duties are usually some of my favorite, so that was another thing bumping those expectations closer and closer to the height of a jet over Philly.
The episode kicks off with Dee drinking and smoking, looking even more run-down than she usually does. It turns out she’s depressed that her life well, sucks, and she’s decided to give up. This leads to the rest of the Gang actually feeling bad, since they think it’s because their years of badgering away at her self-esteem have finally broken her.
To fix this, Charlie, Frank, and Mac decide to get her a gig at a comedy club, while Dennis opts for finding her a below average man to settle down with. While Dennis’ attempts don’t have much success, the comedy club plan actually works, as by some stroke of fate the crowd finds Dee funny. That one success leads to her meeting a manager, whom she promptly sleeps with and gains more gigs. Each show she does leads to a bigger following, until she is contacted by a more prestigious manager to go out to LA and do a bit on Conan that night, all while Dennis is perplexed at her new-found success.
Before everyone can get too excited for Dee, the ending of the episode throws a wrench into all her plans. I don’t want to spoil it in case you’re reading this review before watching, but just know the ending is great. It’s vintage Sunny, showing all the things the Gang is about, plus ending the way every single other episode ends. After all, when the formula works, why change it?Next
Sticking with one of the things many fans loved so much about the last season, the show gets self-aware again, and the result is as funny as always. They reference the fact they joked about Dee killing herself, and Dennis killing himself, by saying there are some things you just don’t joke about, including suicide. Plus, Dennis’ constant confusion about why everyone is finding Dee so funny is another source of covertly introspective lines. “People will laugh at absolutely anything! This is comedy?” Many people who aren’t fans of the show, or who haven’t properly given it a chance, don’t get why a group of people being assholes to everyone around them is comedy, just as Dennis doesn’t understand why vaginas and diarrhea are comedy. Another witty insert from some of the wittiest writers in the biz.
There aren’t very many episodes focused on Dee, and Kaitlin Olson shows why that’s a mistake in this one. She’s absolutely spot-on from start to finish, properly sticking with all the best elements off Dee, while adding this new, depressed character that is hilarious. It’s a great change of pace to actually see her having a bit of success on stage (and not dry-heaving) but I was glad that her previous comedic ways were also able to come back.
As enjoyable as this episode is, it’s merely that: enjoyable. Amusing would be another proper adjective. There were no moments of absolute hilarity. I never had to rewind to hear a line I missed because I was laughing so hard, which is something I’ve come to except from the show. Prior to Season 8, the last few seasons had started slowly, with an episode or two at the beginning taking multiple viewings to really pull out all the humor, and it looks like that’s the case here again in Season 9. That being said, the show definitely hasn’t run out of gas, and all signs point toward this being another strong season. So to be clear: fairly average by It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia standards, but still great when compared with the rest of television comedy.
Other Random Notes
- “Right in that sweet spot between like suicidal and actually dead where most comedians, they thrive there.”
- “He’s got all of his skin still… He’s got plenty of teeth…” If that was all women found attractive, I’d be the biggest stud on the block.
- There was definitely a picture of Charlie in Dennis’ binder of men.
- The map of the US showing the plane was playing on the TV on the plane.
- “The crabs have machine guns – that makes sense”
- Dee’s pattern with men: “Use, use, use, fail, fail, fail, and then it’s suicide.”
- Dennis’ near-mental collapse at the end of the episode was great, and the way Howerton played it is a prime example of why I believe he’s one of the premier comedic actors working today.
Be sure to check back next week for a review on the next episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.Previous