The darkly comic world of Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie, and Frank is one that has both enraptured and shocked TV viewers across the world for years. It’s the longest-running live-action sitcom in the history of American television, at least in terms of number of seasons, but even then, it has limits.
As much as you can rewatch It’s Always Sunny over and over again, there will come a point at which you decide to look for a new show in the same vein, purely for a change of pace. So, here are 10 Shows To Watch If You Like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
10 AMERICAN DAD!
Arguably the strongest of Seth MacFarlane’s various adult-oriented animated sitcoms, American Dad! is also the closest in style and humor to It’s Always Sunny. Whereas the plots of Family Guy episodes are driven by non-sequitur gags, American Dad!’s storytelling is all about escalating the stakes and the tension of any given situation – something It’s Always Sunny has always been great at.
Plus, American Dad! has more character-driven humor than Family Guy, which is right up any Sunny fan’s alley. The newer seasons are the darkest, too, because the show moved from Fox to TBS, with the latter letting them go crazier and weirder with the humor.
9 THE OFFICE (UK)
The NBC remake of The Office is filled with characters that are lovable and always get along and have a great time. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is a drastic tonal departure from the original British version, which is much darker and more cynical. Its characters aren’t friends – they’re just people who work together. The show utilizes a lot of cringe comedy to eek laughs out of the worst corners of humanity.
According to Glenn Howerton, who plays Dennis in It’s Always Sunny, this was a big influence on how they wrote and performed their show in the beginning. The handbag Dee wants for Christmas is made by Sergio Georgini, the same fake brand that designed David Brent’s leather jacket.
It’s Always Sunny thrives on taking its established formula to strange and unexpected places with episodes like “Being Frank” and “The Gang Turns Black.” This technique was mastered by Dan Harmon when he was working on his NBC/Yahoo! sitcom Community, which had a paintball episode shot and edited like a Hollywood action thriller and one episode that played around with parallel dimensions over a board game.
They’re also both very meta and self-aware. With these challenges to the sitcom form and seriously flawed yet ultimately lovable characters, Community is a must-see for Always Sunny fans. The show even has a stop-motion animated segment in its Christmas special, just like Sunny!
It’s Always Sunny’s animated neighbor on FXX might seem very different on paper, but it has a similar sensibility. The series follows the adventures of a James Bond-like chauvinistic gentleman spy, albeit a lot cruder and louder than Bond, and the colorful, misanthropic characters that surround him at his spy agency, including his boss Mallory, who happens to be his overbearing mother.
While Archer’s slick ‘60s animation style puts the show’s look more in line with Mad Men, the show has the same cynical worldview, despicable characters, and pitch-black sense of humor that makes It’s Always Sunny such a curious delight.
6 PEEP SHOW
If It’s Always Sunny was set in Britain and focused only on two characters as opposed to five, you’d have something resembling Peep Show. The sitcom stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb as two London flatmates who have nothing in common and yet can’t live without each other. With antics ranging from accidentally killing a dog to kidnapping a love rival, Peep Show’s Mark and Jez certainly give Mac and Dennis a run for their money.
The show has the added bonus of a unique style, too: the whole series is shot from the characters’ point of view and we can hear Mark and Jez’s thoughts in voiceover in every situation, which only gives the writers even more opportunities to cram in jokes.
5 ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
Arrested Development is a comedy series shot in a cinema verité style (without necessarily being a mockumentary) about a wealthy family involved in a corporate scandal. Much like It’s Always Sunny, every character in Arrested Development is a childish and reprehensible human being, and a lot of the humor comes from running gags: It’s Always Sunny has Charlie’s illiteracy and Mac’s sexuality (which was just paid off spectacularly in the powerful season 13 finale), while Arrested Development has the chicken dance and Blue Man Group.
Arrested Development’s writing and plotting are much more complex, but the narrator voiced by Ron Howard makes it easy to follow.
4 EASTBOUND AND DOWN
If you rolled the depravity of Dennis, Mac, Charlie, Frank, and Dee into one person, you’d have something that looks like Kenny Powers. He’s a Major League pitcher who falls from grace when he’s found to have used steroids and has to return to his hometown and teach gym. But that’s just the beginning – his adventures take him everywhere from Mexico to Myrtle Beach.
Guest stars include such huge names as Matthew McConaughey, Will Ferrell, and Jason Sudeikis. Kenny embodies the comedic persona of his creator, Danny McBride: the brash, annoying, loud-mouthed buffoon who is ultimately a tragic figure. It’s beautiful.
Fargo might be classified as a crime drama, the episodes might be an hour long, and the seasons might each tell completely different stories about completely different characters, but it is, first and foremost, a dark comedy. And in that sense, it shares the same amoral pleasures and reckless disregard for human life as It’s Always Sunny.
RELATED: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: 20 Things That Don't Make Sense About Mac And Dennis' Relationship
Plus, in Fargo, you’ll see some familiar faces: Glenn Howerton, a.k.a. Dennis Reynolds, had a role as a fitness buff in the first season, while Rob McElhenney, a.k.a. Mac, played a guy at a bar who hit on Carrie Coon in season 3.
2 SOUTH PARK
South Park follows a similar storytelling model to It’s Always Sunny in that it takes a current social or political issue and puts its characters into storylines surrounding those issues. For example, when social media first became huge, South Park made a Facebook-themed parody of Tron while It’s Always Sunny gave Dee a catfish.
When the #MeToo movement gained some traction, South Park did a Halloween episode about a literal witch hunt, while It’s Always Sunny did an episode set at a sexual harassment seminar in which they discuss the past misconduct literally depicted on the show.
1 CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, at least in its early seasons, was heavily influenced by Larry David’s HBO sitcom. Every scene in Curb is entirely improvised by the actors from a short prompt in a story outline. While every episode of It’s Always Sunny is fully scripted, the show also uses a lot of improvisation to give the dialogue its loose, spontaneous feel.
Larry often makes decisions and actions that are cringe-worthy and not something a right-minded human being would do. Does that sound familiar? Also, like It’s Always Sunny, Curb has handled some very dark topics, such as cancer and incest, in a comical way.