The 11th season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is humming along nicely. We’ve seen episodes about smut films and art and head wounds and board games and, most notably, ski trips that quickly escalate into spot-on satires of ski movies of the early 1990s. Par for the course, really. But the season’s fifth episode, which aired last night, took things to another level. Titled “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs,” it featured the two roommates abandoning the city and its high rents for a spacious home out in a quiet cul-de-sac. And then it got dark. Oh my, did it get dark. But we’ll come back to that in a second.
This is what I said about the episode in my review from before the season:
It’s Always Sunny is rarely better than when it takes its gang of deranged lunatics and sends them out into the real world — notably, any time any of them meet with literally anyone in literally any office — and this episode is a prime example. What starts as a sensible idea to save a little money results in a descent into madness that gets a little extreme even for Dennis, which is really saying something. And Mac’s descent goes even further, which is really saying something. Dennis is a sociopath. Takes a lot to out-crazy him.
What I didn’t tell you then — what I couldn’t tell you, without getting yelled at by a number of people who would have been perfectly justified in yelling at me — is that Mac’s descent into madness would end with him neglecting a dog until it died and then feeding it to Dennis inside the macaroni and cheese he served for dinner every day for a month. It was all very Cartman of him, except in this situation Scott Tenorman was a bar owner from Philadelphia who was also losing his mind.
Which brings us to Dennis, and Glenn Howerton, who should really consider sending this episode in as his Emmy submission, on the off-chance the nominations process decides to start recognizing the show more than a decade into its run. His transformation from his usual cold, calm demeanor into a sunken-eyed, fireplace-poker-wielding raving lunatic was something to behold. Would I watch a 10-minute supercut of him smashing his steering wheel during his commute and shouting “Seize the gap!” at other drivers in between directing hurtful profanities at them? Yes, I would. Am I planning to memorize his “You ever been in a storm, Wally?” verbal manifesto, just in case one of my neighbors starts forcing weather-related small talk on me? Also yes. It was quite the performance. That’s my point.
(A personal note here: Nothing said by any character on television has ever been more true — maybe as true, but definitely not more — than Dennis saying, “One noise is so much louder than all the city noises combined” when describing trying to sleep in the suburbs after living in a city. I still remember coming home from college in Philadelphia for a weekend and learning that two months of city living had made me immune to its stew of sirens and screaming and other assorted banging and clanging, but very, very susceptible to a single cricket chirping in the yard. There was a point when I debated going outside to try to locate and kill it. This is not how normal people behave. So, I can relate.)
The bottom line here, which I also touched on in my original review, is that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia just turned in one of its best episodes yet ten-and-a-half years into its run. That’s an accomplishment worth noting. It was dark (again, the dog thing), and it was inventive (kind of Shining-esque, but in the normal world), and it was fun (which is saying a lot, considering the dog thing). The gang can still crank ’em out.