The Pitch: Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Charlie (Charlie Day), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) are back at Paddy’s Pub – and they still haven’t learned a thing. Nearly two decades and 15 seasons later, and the gang are still nightmares of human beings – and thank god for that.
For the latest season of the FXX series, the gang stays topical and self-interested. They scheme to exploit issues like inflation, gun safety, and even the ongoing drama of the professional chess world. And while on paper a show that’s old enough to vote taking the piss out of hyper-modern issues sounds worse than a grimy, failing bar, this is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia we’re talking about, a show seemingly immune to losing its edge.
The Gang’s All Here: Once again, the five-some of Dennis, Charlie, Mac, Dee, and Frank are back to wreak havoc, ruin lives, and fail spectacularly. And despite the ethos of the show forbidding the characters from going through any meaningful level of growth (even Frank goes back on his now iconic “I get it” moment in an upcoming episode), that doesn’t mean the characters or the series stay stagnant.
At this point in the show’s tenure, the actors have spent more time living in these roles than an actor could ever dream of. So, when paired with the talented writing staff of Always Sunny, they’re able to mine out new aspects of their respective characters’ terribleness, defying the idea that seemingly every square inch of ground has been covered already. Even when episodes retread old ground, like “Frank Shoots Every Member of the Gang” and its gun-centric commentary, the show still carries forward momentum.
This is all without overly “Flanderizing” the gang, or reducing characters down to one signature characteristic. Sure, the gang might be a little more cartoonish and over-the-top than their 2005 versions, but for every character revelation that doubles down on what fans have come to expect, there’s a development that paints these despicable people in new a light.
Such has been the underlying ethos for the past few seasons, with Mac finding his pride in Season 13 and Charlie’s father-based emotional breakdown at the end of last season. And while Season 16 presents nothing that matches such levels of legitimate drama (at least in the first six episodes made available to critics), the level of respect and focus on moving forward persists. (No hesitation. No surrender. No man left behind.)