‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Creator Says the Show Doesn’t Take Political or Social Stances
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been on the air for a record-breaking 15 seasons. And, as fans of the show know, not much has been off the table in terms of subject matter during that time. Even the most taboo topics can make it into an episode of It’s Always Sunny. Oftentimes, the show will feature issues that have been relevant in the news. So it’s not uncommon for political subjects to be the butt of the joke. But that doesn’t mean the It’s Always Sunny creators are trying to take a political stance.
‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ creator and Mac actor Rob McElhenney on why the show can ‘get away with’ more than other comedies
Rob McElhenney knows IASIP can “get aways with” a lot more than your average TV comedy. He says he gets the question, “Are you guys afraid of tackling any subject, or are there certain places you won’t go?” all the time. In an interview the show’s creator did with Rolling Stone in 2019, he said what it comes down to is an understanding between the writers and the show’s audience.
“I think there’s a key distinction in what we’re doing, and ultimately our fans recognize [it], in terms of satirizing certain behavior,” he told the publication. “We’re certainly not lauding characters for their homophobia or misogyny or casual racism. In fact, it’s the complete opposite, where we’re degrading our own characters for holding some of those views. I think that’s abundantly clear from Episode One. So people will watch the show and say, ‘Well, clearly the characters are homophobic, but the writers and/or creators and/or directors are not.’ That’s the most important aspect for us.”
McElhenney says he and the other writers of the show aren’t setting out to make political statements. They’re just finding the comedy in showing how people like “The Gang” process the world.
“We’re not taking any political or even social side of things, generally,” he said. “We’re more just looking at the current cultural climate through the prism of these terrible, terrible people.”
Rob McElhenney admits there are certain fans the ‘It’s Always Sunny’ creators care about more than others
Fans of the show will remember when Mac first came out as gay. Not long after, the character pointedly went back to denying his sexuality. McElhenney says the decision made the show’s LGBTQ fans “really upset.”
“We thought about it over the off-season, and I realized, ‘Man, that is a bummer. We had an opportunity there, and we screwed it up,'” he said.
Of course, in the following season, Mac came out once again, igniting an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the show’s LGBTQ fans.
“The response was so overwhelmingly positive, certainly from the people that we cared about, though of course there was a negative response from a segment of the audience we didn’t care about,” he said. “It felt good that we were recognizing a part of our audience in a way that was not pandering, that wasn’t offensive or upsetting or a caricature.”
McElhenney is proud of how well-rounded Mac has become, and he thinks that’s why the show’s LGBTQ audience appreciates him.
“We weren’t creating a gay character for comedic effect, that was there just to be gay and to be funny because he was gay, but a very complex, very disturbed, very f*cked-up and awful character, who happens to be gay. And we ran with that,” he said.