Still from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Broke Dee” (Season 9, Episode 1, 2013.)
After watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I can always say to myself, “Well, at least I am not that terrible.” The main characters of the show exhibit a wide range of offensive flaws such as alcoholism, gluttony, racism, sexism, homophobia, greed, deceit, ignorance, and much more. What other sitcom has a brother and sister duo smoke crack in order to get on welfare so they can pursue their other dreams? Interestingly, I believe that the unpleasantness of the main characters are intrinsic to the hilarity of the show.
As a viewer, the best part about the show is that I am not rooting for any specific character. I watch to see the gang’s adventure, not to see what the characters are supposed to learn at the end. In my opinion, there is no moral to the shows. In fact, the shows are completely devoid of morality. There is nothing to figure out, which makes the show an easy watch. The characters facilitate this ease and the humor with all the absurd mischief they get in. In one episode the gang is trying to figure out who got Dee pregnant, and in the next the character Frank shows up drunk to his brother-in-law’s funeral, so he can have sex with his sister-in-law. They are all terrible. In turn, I feel better about myself. The show’s sense of humor is definitely offensive, demeaning, and crude. Because of this, the humor is not for everyone. But I view their antics as a form of escapism, as the characters defy social conventions and do as they please. They are the antithesis to the show Friends for me. I enjoy the fact that I do not feel obligated or manipulated into liking any of the characters. They are not likable, which, ironically, is why I like some of them. Even though these characters are hyperboles of negative human characteristics, they seem more real to me. I feel as if some sitcom characters try to be too likable or quirky and I appreciate the bluntness of these characters.
Also, if a character is unlikeable, they can still be relatable. In “The Gang Broke Dee,” Dee eventually reaches a tipping point in the emotionally battery she receives from her friends. She refuses to shower, self-deprecates herself, eats a whole chocolate cake out of the trash, and then proceeds to get exceedingly drunk. While the average individual would not go to such extents to emphasize their unhappiness, everyone has had a terrible week that makes them want to quit on life. In addition, one can live vicariously through Dee’s self-destruction and feel empowered that they have not succumbed that severely to daily pressures. In the end, I am always surprised and never disappointed at the new scenarios the writers are capable of creating.