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'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia': Get a season 5 preview, then vote for your favorite character!

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the FX comedy that swings big and consistently connects in a game where there are no foul lines, returns tonight at 10 p.m. ET for its fifth season of fun. If you are a fan of the laughing and have not yet met the Paddy’s Pub gang, IT’S TIME. Seriously. Watch the show. All you need to do to “get it” is watch clips on Hulu, read our season 5 storyline teases from Rob McElhenney (Mac) after the jump, or click through the gallery Glenn Howerton (Dennis) penned for us describing 10 of his favorite episodes: “One of the most fun things about writing for Sunny is being able to explore major social issues through the microcosmic viewpoint of these often ignorant but weirdly optimistic characters,” he says about the classic “Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare.” Then, on the flip side, you’ve got an episode like “Mac Bangs Dennis’ Mom”: “I remember wanting to do an episode that wasn’t ‘topical,’ and to explore just how deceitful and backstabbing these characters could be within the context of a comedy. Everyone trying to screw everyone else’s mom seemed about as far as you can go in that direction.”

Last night, I caught Howerton, McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson (Dee), Charlie Day (Charlie), and Danny DeVito (Frank) performing their musical The Nightman Cometh, adapted from a Season 4 episode, live on stage at NYC’s Beacon Theatre. I’ve seen the Kids in the Hall there on multiple tours, and it hit me: That’s the level of chemistry we’re talking about here. They’re so comfortable with each other and their shared, warped sense of humor, that you can just sit back and relax: On the off chance there’s ever a moment of silence (and last night, there wasn’t), you know it won’t be awkward.

It also occurred to me last night that the sight of Charlie makes me smile, and that this illiterate sweet stalker of a man boy who shares a single-bed apartment with DeVito’s Frank (“Who Pooped the Bed?” is on my list of favorite episodes) might be everyone’s favorite. So after those Season 5 storyline teases from McElhenney, we’re putting that to a vote in a PopWatch poll.

Season 5 will include, in no particular order:

• A guest appearance by Rowdy Roddy Piper: “We realize after watchin’ some old WWF videos of Hulk Hogan that people aren’t as patriotic as they used to be in the ’80s, back when Hulk Hogan was wrestling like The Russian Bear, the Iron Sheik. We were too young to experience that, so we kinda want to bring that back and show our appreciation, so we go out and recruit Rowdy Roddy Piper to help us put on a very big show for the troops.”

• A road trip: “We just thought it would be funny to see what these characters would do if they were locked in a car with one another for a few days. We’re headed to the Grand Canyon, so needless to say, we don’t make it very far.”

• An intervention: “We decide that Frank has gone too far. We’re gonna intervene on him not necessarily for his alcohol abuse, but just because he’s no fun anymore. When he gets drunk, he’s just disgusting, not reckless, which was very fun for us.” The episode includes a guest appearance by 24‘s Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays a cousin of Dennis and Dee.

• Inventions: “In the recession, there’s still a lot of product that sells really well, and it seems to always be the most inane sh–, the blankets with the sleeves in ‘em, the Crocs. If people are gonna buy that then they’ll buy pretty much anything, so we decide to create merchandise for the bar. Charlie comes up with Kitten Mittens because he has a problem with all these alley cats running around his home and making noise. He just sets them up with these socks that keep them quiet, and surprisingly people respond. Mac decides that what people love more than anything is comedy, and that they’ll think a towel that has a very large member on the end of it would be hilarious. Dennis creates a nudie pen, one of those ones that you flip upside down and the clothes disappear from the people. But instead of putting an attractive woman in there, he puts himself thinking women would like to buy that.”

• The economy: “We buy a foreclosure house and then try to flip it before we lose it. Dee decides to sell out her womb and become a surrogate à la the Octomom, and she’s gonna try to stuff as many kids as she possibly can in there. We have another episode dealing with the recession. Frank lost all his money in a Ponzi scheme and tries to commit suicide, but we realize his neck is too thick and that he can never hang himself ’cause he’ll just swing there for hours until we cut him down.”

• Charlie’s broken heart: Turns out Dee has spent every Saturday for the last three years trying on wedding dresses, just hoping her day will come. She runs into The Waitress and find out that she’s getting married to someone Dee dated in high school. “She tries to break them up, because there’s no way that that woman will get married before her. We don’t want Charlie [who loves The Waitress] to flip out and in a fit of rage massacre everyone so we’re gonna try to find him another woman to fall in love with, or at least another woman to stalk. We create this entire profile for him on this dating site and say he’s a philanthropist. Only he can’t seem to pronounce the word correctly, so it comes out as ‘full on rapist.'”

• Flip cup: They screened this episode at the Beacon before the show. Ten years ago, the Paddy’s Pub gang poisoned their rival bar in a flip cup drinking game tournament. The ban has been lifted and they can reenter the tourney, only the other bar is now a nice restaurant that doesn’t want to play. While they try to force them to enter, they also try to find a replacement for Dee (who choked 10 years ago) at Dennis’ old fraternity at Penn and it does not go well. The frat becomes the gang’s new rival and… That’s all I’ll say. Other than that Danny DeVito wears skinny jeans in this episode, and that when we left the Beacon, EW’s Christine Fenno and I were totally chanting “Flip, Flip, Flipadelphia.”

• Artemis and Frank hooking up for an episode: We don’t even want to know.