The Gang is back and better than ever with stories about curses, ASMR, inflation, and more.
Plot: This year alone, Mac battles with allergies and long-distance dating, Charlie takes on his long-forgotten sisters, Dee fights for rent control and women’s athletics, Frank wrestles for his gun, and Dennis struggles to improve his mental health. At the end of the day, they’re navigating 2023 with 16 years of baggage as a few figures from their past rear their heads.
Review: I love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There are few series that have managed to be as hilarious for as long. In comparison, many shows have been signing off after short runs while Sunny returns for a sixteenth season chock full of hilarious episodes that work as well as any during the series’ prime years. After a couple of seasons featuring hit-or-miss episodes and extended storylines, the new season of Sunny returns to standalone stories that highlight the various quirks of the Gang as well as bring us the return of beloved supporting characters. With at least two more seasons on deck, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia continues to find fresh material to spoof and mock while never changing from a look at some of the worst characters we cannot help but love.
Like the preceding season, the sixteenth run of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia clocks in with just eight episodes. This season brings the running tally up to 170 total episodes. The first six episodes of this season were made available for this review, and there are some series standouts amongst this batch. Without delving into spoilers, there are some memorable cameos this season, ranging from MLB player Chase Utley to Breaking Bad duo Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. While famous faces have appeared on the series before, It’s Always Sunny rarely treats these appearances as stunt casting. Instead, they are fun roles that show the actors being good sports in delving into the insanity of this fictional version of Philadelphia. More surprises are in store than those I have named, but I won’t spoil them here.
The season opens with an episode about inflation and the economy that offers a fun reveal about Charlie’s apartment that I did not see coming. There is also an episode involving a curse written by David Hornsby that is an instant classic for this series. Hornsby returns as homeless, defrocked priest Cricket in a tale that brings the entire gang together and callbacks to some characters we have not thought about in quite some time. Through these episodes, I noticed a subtle shift in the humor as the Gang does not rip on Dee nearly as much as they used to. Sure, Kaitlin Olson is a good sport and still serves as the butt of jokes, but it was several episodes in before anyone called her a bitch, a running gag, and one of the funniest the series has. It is also noticeable that while the Gang is still ignorant and dangerously oblivious to their own actions, they shift from episode to episode as to who is dumb and who is reliable, a classic conceit this series has always done well and handles better this season than they have in a long time.
This season’s fifth and sixth episodes are also really good, especially the Chuck E. Cheese-inspired episode about the Gang visiting their childhood arcade, Risk E. Rat’s Pizza. It is a hilarious episode that mocks the famous mouse-themed franchise and the horror-tinged world of Five Nights at Freddy’s. The fifth episode, which features Cranston and Paul, is a good one that spoofs celebrity alcohol brands but occasionally feels like a commercial for the pair’s Dos Hermanos brand of tequila. Nevertheless, Bryan Cranston has long been a talented comedic actor, and he and Aaron Paul are highlights of the season. There are not any weak entries this season but they do, at times, seem like they lack the same angry outbursts from Dennis, but the rest of the characters all demonstrate their trademark foibles.
This season only features a single episode written by Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and Rob McElhenney. Compared to the previous fifteen seasons, this is an anomaly, but all three are very busy. Charlie Day recently had The Super Mario Bros. Movie debut big and his directorial effort Fool’s Paradise, while Glenn Howerton was critically acclaimed in Blackberry. Rob McElhenney, of course, has been getting the most press, thanks to the success of Wrexham AFC. In their absence as writers, Sunny veterans Nina Pedrad, Rob Rosell, and Megan Ganz deliver solid jokes for directors Richie Keen and Heath Cullens, along with Pedrad and Ganz, who steps behind the camera. The six half-hours of this season that I have seen all had me laughing out loud at the antics of the Gang that never seem to get old no matter how much this cast ages.
While The Simpsons has managed to stay on the air for decades longer than any series thanks to the immortality of animation, it is astounding that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has managed to keep the core cast and creative team intact for just under twenty years without any significant drop in quality. Like The Simpsons, It’s Always Sunny is having a resurgence in creative output with this sixteenth season, one of the most consistently funny runs of the last half dozen years of the series. Whether you are tuning in for the cameos or because you discovered one of these actors via their other projects, you are in store for a very funny batch of episodes that continues to cement It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as one of the funniest series of all time.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premieres its sixteenth season on June 7th on FXX.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/its-always-sunny-in-philadelphia-season-16-tv-review/