The show It’s always sunny in Philadelphia is unique among other television show. It is both a beyond pitch black look at the black, disturbed and screaming heart of the American underclass as well as the funniest show on air. To truly understand the demented brilliance we must understand 2 things, its characters and the American dream. Lets start with the former.
The show follows the exploits of 5 people in Philadelphia (called the gang), mostly centered around their bar they own. Theirs Dennis, what would happen if the human embodiment of lust had a baby with the human embodiment of pride. A man who to feed his never ending need for self validation treats manipulating women into sex with him as the ultimate act. As well as being a borderline predator he is also heavily implied to be a serial killer or at the least having the personality of one. Next we have Mac. A self professed body builder and Karate master as well as a Catholic fundamentalist and closeted homosexual. He vehemently denies being gay despite it being obvious to the gang and makes up to it by explosive rage and zealotry. After that is Dennis’s twin sister Deandre, called Dee. She is the target for the gangs collective rage. Don’t feel sorry for her, she is still extremely vindictive, selfish and mean. Then their is Charlie, the semi-illiterate, idiotic, bleach addicted janitor for the bar whose hobbies include sewers, magnets, ghouls, and having tangential grip on the world around him. He lives in squalor with Frank. Frank is the father of Dee and Dennis. He is a multi millionaire who for some reason is content to live in a dilapidated apartment, eat trash and bank role the gangs stupid ideas.
Now lets move on to the American dream. For all the talk about people saying its dead or whatever, we must first ask ourselves, what is the American dream. The way I and many others see it, it the ability to start out any were in America and end up with hard work and dedication any were you want. To follow your dreams, to make your fantasies into reality. But this does not not happen by magic. It takes actual work, effort put into it. nothing comes for free. This flies completely over the head of the gang.
You see, for the gang, hard work for something with no immediate gains is a taboo. what is an even bigger taboo is personal growth and devolopment. Take Mac. He claims to be a body builder and black belt but is in fact over weight. He claims to protect the bar but the bar is infamous for it many stabbings. While he does eventually come out of the closet, he only does so he can have a lottery ticket worth thousands of dollars. The characters all want the benefits of the American dream with none of the work. This is even more pathetic for Dee and Dennis. The were born in the lap of luxury and somehow managed to stuff it all up, landing themselves here. Frank arguably achieved the American dream. Sure the vast majority of his wealth has been aquired through morally dubious means ranging from Vietnamese sweatshops to actual drug trafficing. And after all that wealth he eventually realizes what he secretly wanted to due all along, live as feral human on the fringes of Philadelphia. Sharing a broken pullout couch with Charlie to sleep on after a long day of wading through the sewers naked to find treasure.
In the end the show shows the result of failing at the American dream. To actively shun self betterment in favor of staying in the horrible place you are at. The true satire of it all comes when we see the depths of madness and darkness in each characters lives. mocking them all the down.