The world has changed quite a bit since the last season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In the two years since Season 14, we’ve had several exhausting political situations, several celebrity scandals, and of course, the pandemic. Thankfully, The Gang is back to make sense of it all, comment on this insane world, and even take the blame for some of the madness of the last few years. But more importantly, as It’s Always Sunny breaks the record for longest-running live-action comedy series in the United States with this season, the series proves it’s just as narcissistic, brilliant, and hilarious as ever.
The first two episodes of this season know that audiences will want to hear how The Gang has handled the last two years, and the series answers that call beautifully. In the season premiere, “2020: A Year in Review,” we learn that The Gang has received three separate PPP loans, started their own businesses, and unknowingly caused some of the biggest moments of the last few years. In the second episode of the season, “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 7,” the team has learned their lesson after doing blackface, and engaging in stereotypes in Lethal Weapon 5 and 6, and have decided to right their wrongs. The Gang has grown, but naturally, for all the wrong reasons.
Mac accurately describes the last few years by saying The Gang has done “a lot of learning, a lot of growing, and a lot of being scared.” It’s a perfect encapsulation of what the world has gone through, and while we may be tired of reliving the recent past in entertainment, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s fifteenth season comments on modern idiocy without the fatigue we’ve come to expect. If anything, it’s almost comforting to know that all of the insanity in our world has been thanks to the five owners of Paddy’s Pub.
But Mac isn’t wrong, as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia does feel like it’s done a lot of growing in the show’s absence. In “The Gang Buys a Roller Rink,” the series decides to dig into the early days of The Gang and their dynamic, while the second half of the season – as the promos for the series have implied — takes place in Ireland. It’s Always Sunny has certainly tied a season together, be it with Fat Mac in Season 7, or Charlie’s obsession with The Waitress, but this season is one of the few times that it seems like the show trying to tell a larger story over a majority of the season.
It’s Always Sunny has also been smart with character development over the years, and while it’s usually trickling out this growth over several seasons, Season 15 is starting to push these characters down paths we’ve been expecting for years. After Mac’s tremendous dance at the end of Season 13, it’s as if It’s Always Sunny wants to take these characters down their own anticipated routes. Especially in the second half of the season, we actually begin to see an evolution for The Gang that is genuinely surprising, sometimes horrific, and at times, sweet and even sad.
Yet even though we’ve already spent fourteen seasons with these idiots, there’s still so much to learn about them. “The Gang Buys a Roller Rink” explains quite a bit about why this group is the way they are, and explores the origins of Paddy’s, and the trip to Ireland has both Charlie and Mac coming to grips with where they come from. It’s astounding that after all this time, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia can still expand this world, evolve these characters, and find new facets of these dynamics that we never even knew we wanted.
But amongst all the character development and commentary on recent events, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is as hysterical and shocking as it ever has been. Moments like Charlie’s confusion over Pennsylvania’s geography, Dee’s horrible acting class, and the revelation of what made Dennis the way he is are all likely to go down as classic It’s Always Sunny scenes.
Again, it’s truly unbelievable how after all these years, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia can still be at this level of quality. Each of the first six episodes of Season 15 features huge laugh-out-loud moments, new aspects of these characters we’ve already known for several decades, and prescient commentary that never gets too heavy-handed. Season 15 of It’s Always Sunny shows no sign of this now record-breaking show slowing down, as it continues its reign as one of the most ingenious, unexpected, and uproarious series of the 21st century.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premieres on FXX on December 1 with its first two episodes, and will premiere the next day on Hulu. Two new episodes will air each Wednesday.