After eight amazing seasons, the funniest, bravest, smartest, most Emmy-losing-ist show on television returns for a ninth season on FX's new station FXX. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a unique show. By all rights It's Always Sunny .. should be a cult television show, doomed to the annals of Netflix, waiting for a horde of hipsters and geeks to discover and love it. However, It's Always Sunny .. is a huge phenomenon, and it's due to the true awfulness of the characters in the show's titular "Gang."
Every character on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a horrible, irredeemable, corrupt, awful person, and that's why we love to watch them. From the sadistic and narcissistic Dennis, to Sweet Dee, possibly-gay Mac, the disgusting oafish Frank, and of course, Charlie, each of the main players on Sunny is an experiment in id. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the social experiment that Sigmund Freud could only dream of.
None of the characters have any sort of remorse or trepidation about their actions. Sunny is often about pure wish-fulfillment and total id behavior. All of the characters would gladly stab each other in the back for a nickel. Dennis, Charlie, Frank, Mac, and Dee are unabashed horrible people, who don't realize that they are terrible (just see the D.E.N.N.I.S system). Part of Sunny's popularity comes from the perverse joy that can be attained by watching "The Gang" try to defraud the U.S. government, fake cancer, and try to avoid the oil crisis by filling up metal barrels with gasoline and attempt to sell it door to door. You can think, "I may not be perfect, but at least I'm not that".
Another part of Sunny's success is its ability to cross any line and joke about any topic. Right now there are two camps of people in comedy: people that believe that certain topics should never be joked about, and people that believe that everything can be joked about and that people should stop being so offended by comedy. In truth, both sides have merit, because in order to actually joke about topics like rape, suicide, terrorism, genocide, etc. the jokes actually have to be funny (something that the Daniel Toshes of the world often forget).
By having some of the most skilled writers in TV working on their show, though, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia can joke about anything. Because the jokes land and don't seemed "forced" or "hateful", the offensive nature of the jokes just end up as indictments of the cruelty of the characters instead of turning people off of the show.
That's not to say that the characters aren't endearing in a sad, pathetic sort of way. Despite the calculating, manipulative, scheming, creepy ways of Charlie's affections, you still want him to eventually win the waitress's heart. Charlie may be an illiterate, drug-addicted, delusional, wacko who's willing to Thundergun his way to success ... but he's our illiterate, drug-addicted, delusional, wacko. Dennis, Dee, and Frank have a family relationship that seems vile at first, until you realize that all of they deserve and would be miserable without each other. Mac always tries to do the right thing, in spite of his overwhelming urge to do the wrong thing. His constant failures are a highlight of the show. All of the various and innumerable flaws of the characters make them seem more human and relatable, and make them engrossing instead of despicable.
Be sure to tune into the season premiere of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' on September 4 on FXX. And enjoy the classic scene from the unintentional sexual abuse tale of 'The Nightman Cometh', Dayman vs. Nightman: