For those of you who are already fans of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, bless you. For those of you who are casual fans of the show: good job, you're almost there. For those who've only seen an episode or two: take a re-examination of your life. For those who have never seen it: stop reading this article and get thee to Netflix!
Anyways It's Always Sunny has now placed itself on a Seinfeld-level of greatness by somehow managing to be on the air for 11 seasons (with a 12th on the way). Dennis, Charlie, Mac, Dee, and Frank have managed to stay on the air not just because of their undeniable hilarity, but also because of their never-ending social relevance. Obviously you may not know people as sick and twisted as the Gang (at least I hope you don't), but that doesn't stop each character from being relatable in their own way.
Take Dennis Reynolds, a college graduate who lets his knowledge go to his head way too much and is quick to criticize others despite the fact that he is probably a sociopath. Who doesn't know a college know-it-all who's quick to judge but could use some judgment cast on themselves? His twin sister Dee shares some of his egotistical qualities, but uses them to perceive herself in a greater light than her true reality in a more overt way. I mean c'mon, after 11 seasons she still can't pull off a celebrity impression to save her life. Well all know someone who speaks of dreams that are nowhere near a plausible reality.
Charlie is a little tougher to relate to, but he is a good-hearted guy with some really weird qualities. Aren't all good people a little weird? Mac in all his insecurity issues represents a culture of men who cling on to their masculinity in fear that their manhood may ever be challenged ("I can only defend myself through personal attack!"). And of course everyone knows a crazy old guy like Frank, maybe not one as crazy but everyone knows one.
Not only do the characters stay relatable, but the situations they're placed in do as well. This season took a look at Yelp, the suburbs, corny 80s movies, and Skinemax. Sure there are always plenty of fun, unique situations for the Gang to explore but the show's writers do a phenomenal job of commenting on American society each season.
For example, way back in season 1 before Danny DeVito (Frank) had joined the cast the Gang did an episode on gun control. The writers chose this topic because it was an issue relevant to society. 8 years later, season 9 featured a follow-up gun control episode. Why revisit an old topic? Because the issue is still relevant in our society, if not more relevant than it was when the first gun control episode aired.
What makes Always Sunny's social commentary so great is the fact that the Gang never changes (or they arguably get worse). The words of Mac from the season 8 finale "Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense" say a lot about American culture: "I can't change their mind, I won't change my mind. Cause I don't have to, cause I'm an American. I won't change my mind on anything, regardless of the facts that are set out before me. I'm dug in and I'll never change."
In essence, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia dives into the very ignorance of society. Whether it's dealing with politics, gay people, movie blockbusters, or religion, there lies a certain truth about American culture in the narcissism of the Gang. Does Always Sunny provide answers to why some Americans think in these ways? Not all the time. But it does do a pretty good job of making us die of laughter and become better people by striving not to be like the Gang.