All that is wrong with the world…

October 10, 2010

Thoughts on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I recently watched all of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, having heard a lot of good things about it. After watching the show…it seems funny enough, but it just doesn’t work. The gimmick of the show is meant to be the selfishness of the characters, but it is far to contrived. The selfishness is inconsistent, and often unbelievable such as the gangs indifference to Frank’s suicide attempt in S05E03. It’s a fairly smart show and I like the actors, I just don’t think it works most of the time.

It could be because I’m quite used to that sort of humor, and don’t find it shocking as it is intended to be. I think there are many dark comedies that do a much better job of making selfish characters funny. Most of the people I see who find the show funny are people who live pretty tame lives, have never met anyone like the characters in the gang and would be much less able to imagine some of the stuff that is on the show. That’s most people…for anyone who has actually met selfish people or hung out with them…the show just doesn’t work.

When the show does work, is when the gang’s ignorance is played up. Not knowing how the US was founded, not understanding the basic meanings of many commonly used words and similar. Or, just being dumb and showing the enormous gaps in their reasoning, and the resultant shit it gets them into. That only seems to be about half the show, if it were the focus I feel the show would be much funnier. Even so, aside from South Park there is no other show that does such a good job satirizing the ignorance and greed of many Americans. One of the great things about the show is the character Charlie. He is a very very strange character, and through the series the insights and justifications for his strangeness only add to the mystery of the character. He isn’t strange in a fun wacky Kramer way but rather in a creepy perhaps you should be scared sort of way, except that as no one takes him seriously he gets reduced to non threatening amusement.

One of the interesting things about this show was that it has been continually compared to Seinfeld. Unfortunately, it does not compare at all to Seinfeld. Then again, very few shows do – it’s a high standard to meet. While Seinfeld had 3 guys and a girl who were selfish and a token weird character…that is where the similarities end. To compare the female characters, Elaine was always considered part of the group, just one of the boys whereas Dee is almost always rejected or left out. The dynamic is completely different in the group, as where the selfishness on Seinfeld was believable and they were still there for each other, IASIP just takes it to far, and it doesn’t work. The show certainly doesn’t have the genius and wit of the Seinfeld nor do I recall a single episode which was more complicated than a simple scheme going wrong. It’s an entertaining enough show and it’s something to watch but it surely isn’t anything special.

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