Pushing Moral Boundaries in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

By: Cal Parsons

sunny

Still from Season 11 Episode 1: “Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo”

FX’s comedy show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a show that, in its first season, got less than a thousand dollars from FX to make the first season, doesn’t seem afraid to go that extra step when it comes to writing its core characters. Sunny is a show that attempts, and, as far as I’m concerned, greatly succeeds in turning every sitcom trope on its head. Deplorable characters, unfortunate circumstances, and outrageous situations are what the show focuses on most.

The show’s ensemble cast plays a group of narcissistic characters that run a bar in Philadelphia. In this blog I’m going to show the effects the group’s actions have on one particular character: a priest named Matthew AKA “Rickety Cricket” shown in his more innocent days in this still here:

cricket1

Still from Season Two Episode Seven: “The Gang Exploits a Miracle”

In the show, Cricket keeps somehow getting involved in “the gang’s” terrible plans and ideas and his appearance slowly grows more and more grotesque and his moral compass grows more and more corrupt. In “Dee Gives Birth” in Season Six, Cricket is shown smoking crack in a hospital, wearing dirty clothes, has a beard, and presumably hasn’t showered in quite some time. Moving back further to season 10 shows a disfigured Cricket with half of his face showing a severe burn from an apartment fire caused by the gang in an episode where they unite all the main characters they’ve done harm to for Thanksgiving. His priest outfit makes a return, tattered and in shreds from countless shenanigans ensued by the gang throughout the series. Here’s what Cricket looks like in Season 10.

cricket2

Still from Season 10 Episode 3: “Psycho Pete Returns”

Doing all this to a priest of all people is a prime example of how the characters push moral boundaries in Sunny. This is one of the many consistent characters in the show whose lives that the gang more or less “ruin”. Here’s a wiki article showing a timeline of Cricket’s life in the show, and more detailed list of events that lead to this point.

http://itsalwayssunny.wikia.com/wiki/Rickety_Cricket

Cal Parsons

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12 Responses to Pushing Moral Boundaries in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

  1. mediaphiles says:

    In Seinfeld there are great recurring characters too, but no other show quite hits the nail on the head like Always Sunny. Whenever Rickety Cricket reappears, I laugh so much because his whole life is in shambles. The gang really did ruin it, but despite this I don’t feel bad at all. Always Sunny brings out the worst in people, but laughing about it makes it better, right?

    Russell Lawrence

  2. mediaphiles says:

    It Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a great show and I think you picked a great point to write about. I think the best part about the character of Rickety Cricket is that every time he reappears with some new disfigurement the gang acts as if they have no idea how it occurred, despite being the cause of it themselves. All the main characters are terrible people, but its hard to look away because the show is so funny.

    -Walker Rise

  3. mediaphiles says:

    While I’ve never really been able to get into It’s Always Sunny (I’ve seen a few episodes or so), I think your point really speaks to the playful boundaries of comedy and character development in sitcoms. I think character narratives that develop gradually in a disturbingly hilarious way like this not only add a surprising touch to the show as a whole, but help us understand the primary characters a bit more as well.

    – Lydia Geisel

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I totally get your view of the characters in this show. They are some of the most infuriating and horrible, yet endearing characters in television. They don’t care about Cricket, except when they need him for something. It’s tragic, but masked in comedy and shows really how crappy the gang is even though their antics are funny.
    -Jordan Hansgen

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I have actually never seen this show or heard much about it besides that it is a comedy. I expected it to be vulgar and for it to push some boundaries, but the way that you explain it surprises me! I figured that it was a sitcom along the lines of The Office, but now I am more inclined to watch it because it sounds very original.
    -Maddie Turner

  6. I just realized I changed everyones’ name to my name…whoops. Anyways, this show….it’s scares me to say that I like it so much, but I honestly do. I took a television class in New Zealand where we took a closer look, and it had some interesting ideas. One of the ones I thought was interesting was the idea that in every episode, just about, the gang does a bunch of stuff, cause all these problems, then in the end, never learn any moral lesson. What we discussed in the course was that it was almost a reflection of humanity. We do a bunch of stuff, go to war, cause polution, etc., and there is always a great hubub during that time period, but a few years down the line, we always find ourselves repeating our past. I know it’s a stretch, but certainly something to think about.

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I agree that this is a great show that pushes moral boundaries quite often. Cricket is such a great example of this due to his previous occupation as a priest. We, as the viewer see Cricket’s life crumble right before our very eyes and has been pushed to do some very questionable things in the show. Though the gang is primarily the cause of Cricket’s downfall, I can’t help but root for them because they are just such lovable characters. They are quirky and eccentric and have a very unique dynamic that fits very well within the show.

    -Shelby Halliman

  8. mediaphiles says:

    This show is one of my favorites, and I can always return to it if I want a few laughs. What makes this show so brilliant and keeps it alive is just how controversial it can be. It has to be controversial, out there and outrageous; that’s the point. And it’s beautiful. Your focus with Cricket is a perfect example of one successful outrageous plot point that Sunny has been using for years.

    -Jake Fallin

  9. mediaphiles says:

    I have never seen this show, but the idea of pushing moral boundaries is becoming more popular. I know that there are few shows out there where people in the church are involved in the drug business, or are taking money from the church or just unmoral practices. I’m interested to know if the idea behind it is to attack religious figures, or to show even though people attain certain positions that they are still human and battle with what is just and moral daily.
    -Dez Wortham

  10. mediaphiles says:

    I was just watching a compilation of clips from episodes the other day that showed the timeline of Cricket’s fall from pastor to degenerate and it is quite funny because like you said the cast kind of drives him to that point and I had not realized it until watching this video. The one scene Charlie and Dee were encouraging Cricket to keep doing more drugs so that he could have the energy and motivation to keep selling more drugs in order to make money for them, and this was when Cricket was just beginning his dark path to homelessness and addiction. Essentially, it was pretty clear that the gang was to blame for his demise for the most part. This is just another example of how terrible the gang are as people morally, yet for some reason we all still love them as characters which is interesting

    -Max Lissette

  11. marymdalton says:

    You know, there is a lot of buzz about this show, but I’ve never watched more than a handful of episodes. Perhaps I should give it another try. SO MUCH MEDIA; SO LITTLE TIME!

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