Review - It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 16
Charlie and Mac go on a road trip with their moms to get their respective inheritances. After a series of misfortunes, The Gang ponders whether or not they are cursed. Mac finally gets to meet Chase Utley in person. Charlie supports Frank at a chess tournament, while Dennis helps Mac and Dee find boyfriends.
Charlie Day, Rob McElhenny, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito
After sixteen seasons, one hundred and seventeen episodes, and another two seasons in development, the likelihood of an another fantastic season of comedy TV seems statistically unlikely from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Other comedic series like The Simpsons or even hugely popular sitcoms like Friends have retained the general consensus that by the time your series count hits the double digits, you’re done for, or at least aren’t as good as you used to be.
Now, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is my favourite TV series of all time, so trying to review this season without too much bias will be difficult (it is comedy, so what we all find subjectively funny will differ greatly regardless) but either way I can confidently say Season 16 is one of the better seasons of the series in recent memory—if not ever—and the series shows no signs of stopping that stride whatsoever.
It’d be wrong for me to neglect any problems with the season, but with there being so few I’ll start with them to get them out of the way. If the season has any duds, they’re without question the third and fifth episodes of the season. While “Celebrity Booze” is a good, maybe even great, episode, the talents of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul feel vastly under-utilised and leave a somewhat disappointing taste in my mouth when looking back upon it. It’s still a funny, very entertaining episode as a whole, but with such a big part of the marketing for the episode was those two cameos, you can’t help but feel underwhelmed when they do virtually nothing up until the final minutes.
Episode Three, “The Gang Gets Cursed”, is an okay episode, but it’s one of the few cases here where the plotting feels as if it could be dragging out the fun concept to the extent that it veers on boring at times. I adore side characters like Cricket, but his inclusion here felt forced, which is all the more disappointing when compared to how nicely The McPoyles fit in come Episode Seven, which may well be one of the greatest episodes in the series (at least in the last few years that it’s been airing).
Which is absolutely the best thing I can say about this season: while some of the episodes are just personal favourites, there a few here that really do stand out. “Frank vs. Russia” takes an odd concept and makes it a fantastically fun time, “The Gang Goes Bowling” is a hilarious concept done to utter perfection, and “Dennis Takes a Mental Health Day” might not exactly be what I’d hoped it would, yet it still does it’s own version of the concept magnificently and holds its own as one of the stronger finales in the entire sixteen season history of the show. “Frank Shoots Every Member of the Gang” goes about its title concept in a methodical and unexpected way whilst still taking it literally, which ensures it works as a great time, and “Risk E. Rats” and “The Gang Inflates” might not do anything that breaks the formula of US sitcoms or even its own show, but are silly concepts utilised phenomenally for some of my personal favourites of the series. Although, putting bias aside, they don’t hold a candle to some of Sunny’s most series-defining episodes like “The Nightman Cometh” or “Mac Finds His Pride”.
Glenn Howerton once again provides one of comedy TV’s all-time best performances in “Dennis Takes a Mental Health Day” and the rest of the leading cast continue to hold their own against him in their own ways. Whilst these aren’t performances that get awards recognition every year, as strictly comedic performances that occasionally have their shimmers of emotional weight to them (i.e. “Mac Finds His Pride”, “The Gang Carries a Corpse Up a Mountain”) they are genuinely some of the best in the business right now and deserve lots of recognition for their comedic timing, hilarious writing credits, and otherworldly expressions.
Overall, it isn’t quite Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s “objective” best season, but Season Sixteen is another smash hit in terms of Comedy TV and stands tall above many others being released this year. A personal favourite of mine that I’ll force myself to rate lower for the rare dud and pacing issue in certain episodes, Sunny continues to be on a roll with no signs of failure.