I think the harsh sunlight in Philadelphia is baking what's left of their creativity.

I am a HUGE It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fan and as a fan I must say that the first two episodes of the new season are a disappointment.  I haven't given up on "The Gang" just yet.  The first season was just okay and they have had a couple of not so great episodes in a row.  But this time it's different I fear.

Sunny has always been a controversial show and not just because of the lewd humor and storylines that push the limits of taste to the maximum.  What really makes the show something more than just a shock fest are the well developed ignorant, abhorrent and even amoral characters.  They are always manipulating people to do their bidding or just destroying them for fun.  They also seem to have no social filter and act like heathens most of the time.  But they are very realistic.  I have known people in real life similar to all the characters (well, except Frank).  And the peripheral characters are great too.  Rickety Cricket, Mac's parents, the Attorney, Bruce Mathis, the McPoyles..  I could go on and on because there really are that many amazing supporting characters that are foils or victims of the main characters.

The main characters are all horrible and fascinating in their own right.  Dennis is often the gang's leader, offering his brand of wisdom (often not very wise at all) and hatching the hare-brained schemes and hijinks.  While Dennis is not the smartest major character, he has all but Frank convinced that he is.  He spits what he deems "facts" with confidence and authority in such a way that it dupes most of the other members of the gang even if they know better.  Once in a while, Dennis is actually on the money but more often than not his supreme arrogance and ignorance renders what he thinks completely inaccurate.  While Mac my seem like a nothing character, he is very necessary.  Mac is the enforcer, most often of Dennis' ideas.  Mac goes along with whichever idea or plan benefits him most and usually convinces others to go along with it with his emphatic agreement and enthusiasm to take action.  Frank– by far the smartest character– will voice opposition if he sees the plan as failing.  He can be easily swayed by his penchant for sex and violence and is often wrangled into Dennis and Mac's plan by them dangling his vices as a reward for going along with them.  Sweet Dee is the second most intelligent of the main characters.  She understands situations and what should be done about them better than Dennis and her instincts are often right.  Her fatal flaw is her need for approval, especially from her brother Dennis.  Through degradation and humiliation, the guys get Dee to not only go along with their whims but also to do the dirty work that they won't do.  Charlie is the most fascinating character.  He is an idiot savant in that he is exceptional in a few areas but very slow to catch on generally.  Charlie is the only character I would describe as having mostly good intentions.  While he means well, he has a poor understanding of other people and their boundaries often seeming creepy or deranged.  The others exploit this and spit venom at him in such a way that he abandons his good intentions and assumes the gang's way is the correct one.  He is in arrested development in his understanding of sex and human relations.  I mean, he truly doesn't understand how "Nightman" sounds like a rape song.  He has been mostly ignored and left to his own devices his whole life so he indulges in juvenile delinquent behavior of huffing spray paint, scavenging in garbage and so on.

Sunny's main characters are examples of varying degrees of morality: some amoral, some immoral and some just selfish and stupid.  This causes them to view others as pawns to manipulate, do their bidding or exploit to get what they want.  Over the years, they have done a devastating amount of emotional damage on people (Dee seduces Rickety Cricket, her childhood admirer who became a priest, just to prove she's still got it turning him into a homeless junkie).  Very rarely do they get their comeuppance and seem to go through life mostly unscathed.

Needless to say, the exploits of these deplorable people have gone past politically incorrect into just plain wrong.  They shock you by taking wildly offensive stances on current events.  What is the most shocking is their demonstration of the sheer harm humans can inflict on each other.  None of the characters are brilliant masterminds and yet they almost always get the better of smarter people because the average human cannot really fathom how low these characters will go.  This is always what has made the show so great.  It shocks, repulses and angers you but you can't help but laughing at the horror.  The facial expressions are right out of real life.  There are lines so amazingly funny that all you have to do is mention part of one and you will be in tears laughing.  As implausible as most of these situations are, the multi-dimensional, lifelike characters and clever writing elevate what could be a train wreck into one of the funniest sitcoms I've ever seen.

But all good things must come to an end.  Season 7 has begun with Mac getting fat.  This should be funny because Mac is obsessed with his physique and physical fitness.  It's not.  They don't do anything with it.  They are upping the shock value with dead hookers, hobo sodomy and a character getting part of their scalp ripped off.  It is not funny.  It seems as if they are being shocking just for shocking's sake.  Rather than building funny situations around shocking things as they have in the past, they are upping the shock value but are just splicing it into the show in an segregated way.  Has "The Gang" lost their stride?  Maybe.

With Charlie Day's announcement that his wife is pregnant, that makes every major cast member a new parent.  You know the old adage that artists lose their creativity when they become parents?  I'm not necessarily saying this is the case but let's think about it.  When the show began, Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day were still in their twenties, not married and working on a black comedy about the insanity of realistic characters.  It was easy to write about slightly younger exaggerated versions of themselves.  With the show's success they are all more removed from the average life situations and are celebrities.  Sure, you can argue to what extent of celebrities they are but I doubt they just hang around dive bars and observe behavior anymore without getting baraged by fans.  They have all since married women affiliated with the show (a wee bit creepy if you ask me except for Kaitlin Olson because she rocks).  They are now in their mid thirties and are becoming family guys.  And yet they are still writing for characters who are younger, single and have no interest in starting a family whatsoever (that is, unless you can be paid to donate a womb or sperm or something).  It must be hard once they are in the settled down phase of life trying to write characters who are still in the party single mode they were in a few years back.  As a result, the show seems more out of touch than ever.  Being the intelligent people the creators are, they don't want the show to go in the direction their lives have gone.  It simply isn't true to the characters and they surely know that once comedians and writers have kids their work becomes more centered around those things.  In my humble opinion, they are raging against that dying of the light by dialing up the offensiveness to 11.  It is definitely offensive but is it funny?  Nope, not yet anyways.

I hope this isn't so.  I love all the Sunny gang and I think such an amazing show deserves a graceful fade out rather than coming to a close with a couple of seasons so unfunny you have a hard time remembering how good the show once was.  Then you pull out your season 2-5 dvds and you wish for those good old days.

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