Written by Sooz Kempner

Arts

Binging: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

So, you’ve finished The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Killing but you’re still hungry for more boxsets. Fear not, Standard Issue writers are on the case with some hidden gems you might not yet have seen. This week Sooz Kempner suggests sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

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Fancy watching a sitcom where the characters never learn or grow, are thoroughly unlikeable and don’t even particularly like each other? You don’t? That’s understandable. But you should because It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is the best US sitcom on Netflix, with more than 100 consistently original episodes and no let-up in quality.

The show focuses on four friends who run a grim bar called Paddy’s Pub in Philadelphia and who constantly embark on badly thought out schemes to make more money. It could be described as the anti-Cheers: Paddy’s Pub is a place where no one knows your name and they don’t care what it is.

Although it is a sitcom set in our world, Always Sunny frequently hits Python levels of surrealism and is never afraid to be completely absurd. Despite the fact that the show’s disagreeable characters are often sexist, racist and homophobic it is from a very liberal standpoint. Like the similarly irreverent animated series South Park it makes deft political swipes and is far smarter than it might appear at first glance.

Part of what makes this sitcom an ideal binge watch is that, much like The Simpsons, you can return to it for repeat viewings with no need to swot up on where you are in the series timeline. Our lovably horrendous characters reach the end of each episode having never learned a thing and therefore any episode can be watched as a stand alone story.

There are some ongoing storylines though. The show’s lowliest character Charlie is in unrequited love with a character known only as Waitress and his relentless, pathetic pursuit of her love takes many unpredictable twists and turns.

Then there are recurring characters such as Cricket, an unlucky priest who gets embroiled in the gang’s antics and whose life seems to descend ever downwards. We also meet the McPoyles: a grotesque group of siblings who only breed within their family. Another draw of Always Sunny is that it features a career-best performance from Danny DeVito. He joins the series in its second season as the father of characters Dee and Dennis and has never been more disgusting or hilarious: he is visibly having the time of his life.

The sharp, natural, semi-improvised dialogue of the show is the real star though. It’s hard to think of another ensemble sitcom with as many laughs per episode and that’s down to the writers (three of the cast write the show together) and the flawless performances. I’m going to give a special mention to Caitlin Olsen as Dee. In a show that could easily be described as a sausage-fest on first glance Dee is a rare breed of sitcom character  a young attractive woman who is every bit as funny, clumsy, gross and flawed as her male compatriots.

So there it is, my sales pitch for my favourite US sitcom currently running. If you still don’t think a comedy about a bunch of narcissistic nobodies is worth a look then just take a look at The Nightman Cometh episode.

I swear you’ll be hooked instantly.

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Written by Sooz Kempner

Funny Women Variety Award Winner 2012. ASDA Kate Bush.