It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, much like Rodney Dangerfield, Andy Reid or Tina Fey’s bust, gets no respect.
The show has garnered a grand total of two Emmy nominations, 2013 and 2014 nods for “Outstanding Stunt Coordination For A Comedy Series Or A Variety Program.” Unless there’s an Emmy for “Cleanest On-Screen Floors,” that as much of a non-category that a show can be nominated for. And let’s not ignore all the TLC that IASIP has been shown by its (former) network, FX: After launching as the station’s first comedy alongside Starved (which enjoyed the lifespan of a mayfly) and ushering in an entirely new audience to a channel known only for its original dramas at the time, the show was banished to newly launched sister-network FXX in 2013, a channel that was unavailable in multiple homes and required subscription fees in many of the homes that did offer it.
Between the move to FXX, audience attrition and the unevenness of episode quality that comes with creating a decade’s worth of material, season 10 of (which concluded mid-March) suffered some of the show’s lowest ratings since its inception. And that’s a shame, because I’m about to say something I’ve never said about any show after it has spent this much time on the air: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia just produced its strongest season to date.
It wasn’t just the season’s experiments in alternative episode structure (“The Gang Beats Boggs,” “Charlie Work” and “The Gang Goes on Family Fight”) that were perhaps its high points and punctuated the 10 episode run perfectly: I believe It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s writing hit its zenith. We viewers reaped the rewards of a show that features more character growth and development than most television dramas do, much less comedies.
And Frank has transformed from an old-man punchline for his younger co-stars to, in my opinion, usurping Bill Murray’s role as America’s comedic elder statesman
Maybe critics are loathe to heap praise on the show because of its unabashed embrace of low-brow humor, but I’ve always found that it is a small mind trying to play big that cannot distinguish between crude humor and poorly written humor. Fraiser had a few seasons near the end where it got as many laughs as Brian’s Song, and that show felt it was slumming it if it made a reference to My Dinner With Andre. So what? There’s as much art behind a good dick joke as a good Descartes joke. Embrace it. (By the way, if you have a good Descartes joke, let me know. The only angle I could work is the man’s resemblance to Anthony Cumia.)
Even the show’s weakest seasons elicited more laughter than almost anything network television has put on the air during the show’s tenure.
John Papageorgiou is a comedy writer and radio show host in Washington, D.C. Visit inpapasbasement.com for more.