March Madness: IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA Finals!
A month ago, we set out on the journey to find the greatest It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode of all time. After four tough rounds of elimination, only two remain. On one side, you have an iconic episode that brings about one of the greatest, if not confusing, drinking games ever shown on television. On the other, you find out what happens when you combine a wedding, a secluded area in the woods, the McPoyles, and bath salts. Which one will come out on top? Our writers make their cases. We hope you enjoy the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia finals!
1 Chardee MacDennis over 2 The Gang Dances Their Asses Off 3-3 Tie Broken by EIC Kristal Bailey
Gabe Ruzin- I was a bit of a latecomer to the greatness that is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I had heard about this show that was basically ‘Seinfeld on crack’, a wildly inappropriate show with arrogant, self-centered, sociopathic, horrible people that was probably right up my alley. But I didn’t actually see it until it was well into its run. And the first episode I ever saw was ‘The Gang Dances Their Asses Off.’
So that episode has a special place in my heart. But even setting that aside, it’s a strong 30 minutes of TV. It’s almost as if the gang is at its best when nothing really happens. Charlie feebly tries to promote the bar and ends up forcing the gang to win their bar back in a dance competition. That’s the episode. That’s the whole thing. It’s a ludicrous plot and a sneaky way to rope in a bunch of ancillary characters, all of whom are trying to win the bar in revenge for all the ways the gang has mistreated them, but dammit if it isn’t hilarious.
But it doesn’t feel like a “big” episode. Chardee MacDennis feels like a big episode. The very definition of a bottle episode, Chardee MacDennis is 30 minutes of the gang playing the board game they made up one boring afternoon and one which encapsulates all of the negative individual traits of the gang and exploits them in legendary fashion: Dennis and Dee’s smirking superiority, Fat Mac’s rage, Charlie’s resigned befuddlement, and Frank’s calculating semi-evil. As silly as it is, the episode works because of its strange inaccessibility: it invites the audience to experience a bizarre game that the gang has made up and then doesn’t really show them how the game works.
Think about it. They lay out the ‘rules’ to Frank, the audience stand-in who has never heard of Chardee MacDennis before, but the explanation is incomplete and maddeningly vague at times. Google Chardee MacDennis and you’ll find oodles of posts in which people have attempted to recreate the game for home use. But they’re all poseurs and copycats. There’s only one real Chardee MacDennis and nobody really knows how you play it. All we know is that it’s really fun to watch. It’s grotesque and mean-spirited and crude and nonsensical and funny as hell. And it might have led to the greatest episode in Sunny’s history.
1 Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre over 3 Gang Solves the Gas Crisis 4-2
Eric Ambler- I don’t need a line graph with distractedly buxom women on it to illustrate how perfectly “The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre” falls into place by using the nuptials of Dennis’ ex-wife to lampoon horror movie tropes. From the secluded venue in the woods to the creepy taxidermy to the various McPoyles shuffling about aimlessly, the entire episode is a knowing wink to a demographic that came of age in an era of terrifyingly visceral fright flicks.
But it’s more than just the references that have taken “Wedding Massacre” to the finals. The episode features one of the more intricate plots of recent seasons, and hinges on a genuinely believable twist – for this show, anyway – that explains the random contortionism, the face-eating, and the disheveled old man (a barely recognizable Guillermo del Toro) screaming about how he once ate his offspring. Still, among all these terrors, the gang saves the biggest shock for the end: yes, dear readers, there’s nothing scarier than Dennis’ ‘o-face.’
Check out some of our writer’s arguments for each finalist on the next page!