A new season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs Thursday, September 15th, and the cast has shared their thoughts on the future of this FX mainstay. With at least two more seasons already given the go-ahead, The Gang (as they are known) isn't going anywhere, and has quickly become a part of the fabric of today's television comedy.
The show has frequently pushed the envelope of what is acceptable on television with each passing episode. This season could prove to be the most controversial yet, with episodes ranging from child beauty pageants to finding humor in diabetes. Whether it raises concerns or not from some purists, the show always takes risks and so far it has reaped the benefits for not conforming to the classic guidelines of television sitcoms.
In fact, the cast argues that it has long been against the basic structure of sitcoms. While it does look like a sitcom on the outside, Always Sunny in Philadelphia definitely lives by its own rules, earning a devoted fan base that has even brought in-jokes like Green Man into our cultural zeitgeist.
The cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia sat down with us at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the upcoming seventh season and even briefly mention what's next after the show's television run ends.
The elephant in the room (pun intended) has long been Rob McElhenney's weight gain for this season of the show. In an effort to make his character, Mac, more amusing, McElhenney packed on 50 pounds of fat and grew a beard. After filming, he lost some of the weight, but at Comic-Con he was still clearly in a transitional phase.
Rob McElhenney: I never wondered what it would be like to have a fat character. That’s just mean and it’s not funny. Ultimately, what was funny to me was the abuse on one’s body. Mac was always talking about putting on mass, so he decided to put on mass. His vision was that when David was sculpted, they started with a big slab of marble and then he was widdled down. So Mac created himself a big slab of marble, but it turned out he was just a big slab of beef and never trimmed himself down. That to me is the funnier aspect of it. It stemmed from watching a really popular sitcom where the actors were better looking than five or six years before and I was like they’re better looking because they have more money, they are more famous, they have better makeup and wardrobe people. Our show has always been about deconstructing the sitcom and not creating likeable or attractive characters. It wasn’t just about weight gain, but about making myself look as self-abused as possible. I tried to look as ugly as possible.
Few actors have put that much commitment to a television show, but this has been the cast's life for nearly a decade. The show came from their own twisted minds and it remains safely in their hands, creatively. Fans owe much of the show's consistency to the cast, who all act as producers and writers as well. The gang weighed in on how the show continues to evolve over the years, if at all.
Charlie Day: These characters are de-evolving.
Danny DeVito: We just get more involved with each other. Every year since the time I came on the show, every single minute we love each other and we want to do more things together and get more adventurous and have more fun. So every single time we get together it escalates. I have a ball doing the show. I would get naked right now. We are having a ball doing it.
Rob McElhenney: Ultimately our intention is never to raise the bar. Literally. We just keep saying 'What have we not done before? What would we find funny and what are you not going to find anywhere else?'
Kaitlin Olson: I think it's Rob's favorite.
Glenn Howerton: It could be our best season. We are sitting in the editing room very, very happy about what we are seeing. You never know. Things can go wrong in a TV show or a movie. You can think you have a great episode and then you shoot it and edit it and it’s not that great... We never really set out to top ourselves. We just strive very hard to give people something different. Almost everything has been done, so it’s all about how you execute it and can you continue to surprise people?... I couldn’t be prouder. It all happened so organically. For FX to have allowed us to basically just make a show that we thought was funny and then to bring funny actors onto the show. The fact that people loved it and it got into syndication is just amazing.
Whether the cast will admit to raising the bar each season, the show continues to test the social taboo by tackling issues other raunchy comedies are afraid to touch. Basically, if it is a social interaction, one can rest assured It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia will attempt to find the humor in it. The cast shared some moments to look forward to this season, all of which seemed to focus on the third episode for season 7.
Charlie Day: Well, I am the Musical Director of a child beauty pageant. There is some singing and some dancing.
Kaitlin Olson: Our characters are dancing a lot this season.
Rob McElhenney: We have another musical episode this year. We’re really excited about it. It’s called “Frank’s Little Beauties.” He winds up getting himself involved in a beauty pageant and comes home nervous because it is a child beauty pageant. We wind up heavily, heavily involved. The children are supposed to be featured, but we end up featuring ourselves.
We did manage to ask Charlie Day how he feels about an Always Sunny movie in the future. His answer is promising, but suggests it is a long way from reality right now.
Charlie Day: Yea, I think so. But you know with those things I feel like it’s better when the show is like stopped and maybe off the air for a year or two and people are missing it and you give them something.
Whether or not the gang makes it to the big screen is a distant thought right now. They continue to thrive on FX with a brand new season on the way, and more on the horizon. The first episode, "Frank's Pretty Woman," aired for a boisterous Hall H audience at Comic-Con and received a roaring applause. It is a great opening episode that suggests the gang has not lost a step and we may in fact see some memorable antics this season. But can anything top Lethal Weapon 5? Mac is giving it a run for its money with his weight gain, but time will tell.
What are your favorite Always Sunny moments and what do you hope to see from the gang this season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia season 7 premieres on FX Thursday, September 15th and continues for 13 episodes.