It's Always Sunny: Charlie Day goes behind the scenes of season 12
Day takes us through the biggest and best moments from the season — the finale and risky season premiere included.
The gang just lost a member: In It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s 12th season finale, Dennis claims he’s had enough of everyone and is off to raise his young son in North Dakota, where he’s been living a double life.
“The bar is done,” he says as he turns off the lights at Paddy’s Pub. With that, he’s gone — for now.
“It opens up a lot of options for us,” Charlie Day, who created the FXX series with costars Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney, teases to EW. As does his own character’s story line with the Waitress (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), who Charlie has unprotected sex with after years of pining. While Day won’t reveal whether the Waitress is pregnant, he will talk about his lack of confidence in Charlie’s parenting skills.
“He would be a mess of a dad,” he laughs. “But he could certainly teach you a lot about how to cook strange foods and where to forage for the most coins.”
Between these developments and a few others from the season, some would say the gang is growing up. That’s far from true, though. “There’s just something about these people that is so hardwired that I can’t imagine them ever actually growing up,” Day says. “Look at Frank Reynolds. I mean, if that’s your father figure, then how are you ever expected to grow up?”
He’s got a point — plus, the characters’ inability to mature is part of what keeps fans coming back to the show over a decade in. “It’s really amazing to have some kid come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I started watching your show when I was 7 or 8 years old,'” Day says. “It brings me so much joy. And I couldn’t be more proud of the show.”
Here, Day takes us through the biggest and best moments from the season — the finale and risky season premiere included.
The gang tries out a different race for a day in “The Gang Turns Black”
Day knew they were taking a big risk when they opened the season with an episode — a musical one, no less — where the white main characters wake up as black versions of themselves (played by black actors). The half-hour sees the fivesome experiencing life as a different race, and ends with Charlie, who turns into a young black boy, getting shot by a police officer.
“It’s a tragic moment in the episode, and then it’s even more tragic that the characters don’t learn their lesson at the end,” Day explains, “which is the frustration of society, that we keep repeating these mistakes and we don’t seem to be able to figure out how to learn our lessons.”
“I’m always proud of an episode where we’re able to say something that’s a little bit difficult to say, to have some humor, but to also have some point of view,” he continues. “In such a politically charged time in our country, I’m glad that we’re still able to have a show where we’re able to take a look at issues and point our fingers at injustices and that people get it — not everyone gets it, but I’m happy when they do.”
Sunny becomes a murder doc in “Making Dennis Reynolds a Murderer”
Mac and Charlie compare murder documentaries to chips in this episode, which parodies both Netflix’s Making a Murderer and HBO’s The Jinx by investigating whether Dennis killed Maureen (Catherine Reitman). “You want more chips,” Charlie says, referring to feeling unsatisfied even after finishing a bag of Lays. “Murder is chips!”
They outlined the episode around this same time last year, right when Making a Murderer was at the height of its popularity after a December 2015 release. And although Day sometimes watches those kinds of movies and television, he said they wanted the episode to call out the weirdness of it. “We’re basically saying, we’re so obsessed in our culture with murder and violence that there’s a macabre okayness with all this,” he explains. “We’re making episodic entertainment out of the fact that someone’s been murdered, and there’s sort of no sensitivity to the family of the victims sometimes with these documentaries. I’m the same as everyone — I will get sucked up in them. But it’s a crazy thing in this society that we’re into.”
Mac comes out in “Hero or Hate Crime?”
The gang has been calling Mac gay for years, and he officially came out in this episode, where Frank saves his life by shouting “Look out, f—-t!” right before he’s almost crushed by a piano. Frank immediately deems himself a hero, while everyone maintains he’s a villain for using a slur — no matter the outcome. They all go on to have a conversation — with a lawyer present — about whether Frank committed a hate crime and who’s entitled to the lottery card Mac was picking up as the piano was falling. In the process, Mac explicitly says, “I’ve been gay forever, everybody knows it. I’m out!”
This reveal came to be after Mac briefly came out last season and then quickly went back on it. “I think there was a bit of fan disappointment with that,” Day admits. “There was a little social responsibility to say, hey, we’ve dragged on this joke of this guy being in the closet, and perhaps it does better societal good to actually have him come out. There was an awareness that it sends a better message to the world — for the people who pick up on the fact that 99 percent of our show is satire.”
Dee, Charlie, Frank, and Dennis tell Mac he’s gay, and then bring out a fitness bicycle to prove it. Not just any fitness bicycle, though: This one has a dildo topped with a fist attached so that each time the biker pedals, he also gets a nice, well… let’s just say Mac calls it the Ass Pounder 4000.
“There was a story going around about a man in Ireland or Scotland, I believe, who was found dead on one of those,” Day laughs. “And we were having a lot of conversations about it. And we didn’t want to say something horrible like, ‘This is what all gay people are doing,’ but we thought, ‘This is what the crazy, insane Ronald ‘Mac’ McDonald is doing.'”
Cricket finds puppy love in “A Cricket’s Tale”
Cricket (played by David Hornsby, who wrote this episode and also co-produces the series) has his moment in this episode — it just doesn’t last too long: He falls in love with a woman and then realizes the woman is actually a golden retriever (don’t smoke PCP, kids!). And he realizes this after making out with her. “We thought it was time to give Cricket an episode, and we were breaking the story where he fell in love and the story wasn’t quite working,” Day recalls. “We couldn’t put our finger on why it wasn’t working, and I kind of half-jokingly, half-serious — I believe it was me — said, ‘What if she’s just a dog this whole time?'”
After initially thinking “we can’t do that,” they realized that, oh yeah, they could totally do that. All Hornsby had to do was pick out his canine kissing partner. “If he was going to have to make out with a dog, the golden retriever was the least offensive one,” Day laughs.
Dennis ditches Paddy’s Pub in “Dennis’ Double Life”
Out of all the main characters, it was Dennis who’s been living a double life. So why him? “There’s usually so much mystery with Dennis and what’s going on with him and we allude at times to sort of a psychotic other life that he has,” Day explains. “There was something interesting about giving him a moral Sophie’s choice.”
At first, he goes the predictable route, trying multiple times to get out of parenting — he pretends to be in a partnership with Mac and then acts like he’s been shot dead. Then after saying goodbye to his son and her mom, he has a change of heart watching the gang dance it out in the bar. “I think you could point to several choices or reasons over the history of the whole show that might lead him to making this choice,” Day says.
Then there’s Charlie’s long-awaited hookup with the Waitress, which Day says they made happen simply because they “decided it was time.” “It was time for something to give. For it to either end or to work — or for at least sex to happen,” he adds with a laugh.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia