The It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia crew typically spend most of their time drinking in Paddy’s Pub, but they switch it up for the season 10 premiere by taking their beers to a whole new location: an airplane.
Charlie, Mac, Dennis, Dee, and Frank hardly venture out of the bar, let alone Philadelphia, so the fact that they even made it on a plane—a place that requires its passengers to be way more polite than the five combined are even capable of being—is impressive. But how they made it on the plane is a mystery: By the time they take their seats, Dee has already downed 27 beers.
The gang isn’t drinking a ludicrous amount of beers just to drink (though that certainly wouldn’t be beyond them). No, they’re drinking as many beers as they can on a flight from Philadelphia to L.A. to see if they can break baseball player Wade Boggs’ cross-country record, which is—as legend goes—somewhere around 50 beers. Charlie’s convinced Boggs is dead (he’s not), so claims to be doing the challenge in the player’s memory; everyone else just wants to see if they can do it.
A friend once told me she has trouble watching It’s Always Sunny because the characters are too mean, too morally bankrupt. That’s a completely valid criticism, but it’s also why the show is such a success in terms of comedy. These are static characters who exist in a realm completely separate from the majority of humans, humans who grow and regret and tend to have, you know, morals. It’s not often that we see characters as intentionally bad as these ones, which makes for a novel and usually entertaining experience: Where else can you watch a group of friends acting like unrestrained (and alcoholic) toddlers? They’re the worst of the worst, and they don’t care.
The set-up for this episode allows their more troublesome sides to shine and forces us to see just how out of control they are by juxtaposing their ridiculous behavior with the seeming sanity of the flight attendant they keep harassing for more beer. This flight attendant is tasked with tending to the gang, who are all (save Mac, who’s commissioner of the competition) using a marker to tally the number of beers they’ve had on matching white V-necks—and who are making her job extremely hard, whether it’s by taking over the intercom (Dee) or pretending to be a doctor (Frank).
While Dennis and Frank eventually duck out of the competition, Charlie and Dee finish strong with 71 beers each. Everyone on this show exists in a state of constant inebriation, but these two are on a whole new level: Dee ends up on the baggage carousel and Charlie’s words are so slurred that his dialogue requires subtitles. Watching them break down is the episode’s highlight, because they are breaking down—just like any other human would after drinking that much alcohol—and discovering that they are not as invincible as they tend to think they are.
It’s Always Sunny isn’t a show to watch if you want to see complicated characters who mature and solve internal conflicts—it never has been that show, and it never will be. But it is a show to watch if you want to see id personified, something that’s terrifying in real life but—as this premiere shows—endlessly amusing on fictional TV.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FXX.