It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Review: “The Gang Gets Analyzed” (Season 8, Episode 5)

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And for as outright crazy everyone else might seem, Charlie’s problem might be that he’s just a little stupid, and more than a little odd. Whereas Dee lies pathologically to the therapist, and demands validation for her acting skills (surprisingly, Kaitlin Olson had a flash of Claire Danes in some of her mannerisms tonight), Charlie could very well just be misunderstood, probably because he himself misunderstands most of the things other people tell him. Keeping Charlie’s thought process from being written too broadly must be a difficult task, but hearing him explain that he has a dead pigeon in his coat because he hugged it too tight is weirdly endearing, as well as mortifying.

The other member of the group who can usually inspire a little pity, Mac, manages what might be the closest thing to a breakthrough. His body image issues have always been obvious, but a subtler quirk, mostly just alluded to here, is the fact that Mac is probably gay. Sure, his assessment that a pen looks like a dick might be a clever nod to a Freud quote concerning cigars, but between the oiled-up wrestling of last week, and an attempted kiss on Dennis the week before, there’s plenty of evidence to support that this season will feature some big changes for Mac. (His devout Catholicism and established opposition to gay marriage gives the impression that any homosexual tendencies would be repressed…by say, lots of working out and karate moves).

My favorite moment though, was Mac choking up as he admits to sometimes questioning his friendship with the others, before quickly psyching himself back up with a minor tantrum, as though it were a reflex to doubting the only real relationships he has. The gang has always functioned as a unit, one that thrives, nay, survives on co-dependence, because, for as much as they mistreat one another, the Paddy’s crew knows they more or less stand together when facing the rest of the world. Without a scheme to run, or an enemy to get revenge on this week, the group turns on itself at the drop of a hat, and they need to offload that animosity onto a third party. Is such a trivial argument the result of the writers having to amp up the insanity each year, or does the toxicity of being in one another’s company only worsen the longer the gang stays together?

So while it’s a little anti-climactic to have the therapist throw her arms up in frustration and assign Dee the dishes (and the twist that Charlie served everyone pigeon at dinner is a pretty pointless dovetail [pardon the pun]), “The Gang Gets Analyzed” will make for a memorable episode, not just because it was a consistently laugh-worthy episode that showcased each actor’s talents, but because it had a subtlety Sunny usually ignores. For the show to eventually arrive at some grand point about the group would be a risky venture (look how it backfired for Seinfeld), but the possibility that it could helps keep It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia fresh, in addition to being wickedly funny.

  • Stray Thoughts

-It’s been a pleasure talking about our favorite little corner of Pennsylvania, but your regular recapper Alexander Lowe will be back next week.

-Given enough time, Charlie Work could become a perfectly acceptable term for disgusting work no one wants to do.

-If you don’t laugh at Charlie spiking a dead pigeon, we have very different definitions of comedy.

-I gave Kaitlin Olson’s segment only a passing comment, but I’d be remiss to not mention her fantastic freakout during the credits. It’d be hard to sound angry doing something as fun as smashing a bunch of plates.

-“He’s always sucking on the pens in our apartment. I’m always having to hide them.”

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