As much as we've honored all of the hard work that Glenn Howerton (Dennis), Kaitlin Olson (Dee), Rob McElhenney (Mac), Charlie Day (Charlie), and Danny DeVito (Frank) have put into making FXX and FX on Hulu's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia a record-breaking success, it's also important to honor the folks behind the camera who've also contributed to the show's success. One of those people is director Matt Shakman, who many people are talking about right now because he's the director of what looks to be Marvel Studios' first hit for the Disney+ streaming service, WandaVision. But before he was altering reality with Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen, he was warping minds with The Gang from Paddy's- directing 43 episodes of the long-running series over the course of ten years (2007-2017).
In honor of Shakman's skill as a director and the waves of praise he's receiving for his MCU series, we're offering a quick, down-n-dirty list of our favorite ten Always Sunny episodes helmed by Shakman. Please note that Season 4 episode "The Nightman Cometh" isn't on this list because it has a permanent place at the top spot in BCTV's Always Sunny Hall of Fame- so think of it as having had its number retired. As for the rest? Here's our prime ten:
"The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell" S04E11: By the time you're done watching, I dare you to not try speaking as if you have wooden teeth, too.
"The Gang Gets Stuck in the Woods" S06E11: Dennis' "Chet Utley" knife twist to Mac might be one of the cruelest things he's ever done, and we don't want to know what Tom Sizemore did to get into character.
"Dee Gives Birth" S06E12: Along with being a trip down Dee's sexual memory lane (wow), we also have a rare instance of the boys going beta to Dee's alpha at the end of the episodes- little boys looking for "momma's" approval.
"Frank's Pretty Woman" S07E01: Consider this a PSA in why you shouldn't swallow one let alone dozens of fake blood capsules, as The Gang proves that it won't hesitate to abandon a dead body if it needs to. True friendship is defined as those willing to help you bury a body, so dumping in an apartment building hallway must count.
"The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore" S07E02: Rum ham, bum sex, crystal meth, armed robbery, psychedelic drug use, and the best night of Charlie's life make for a sweet cocktail of comedy.
"Sweet Dee Gets Audited" S07E04: Oh, you think staging the funeral for a fake dead baby is low? Well, The Gang will see your "low" and not only match it but go for broke by having a decaying animal in the coffin to add a little weight.
"CharDee MacDennis: The Game of Games" S07E07: Dennis' inability to feel pain, Mac's scheduled freakouts, excessive drinking, some shady gameplay, and more make for what seemed like a natural for The Gang: their own "board game" (that should be illegal in at least 24 states).
"How Mac Got Fat" S07E10: Don't be fooled. As great as the flashback scenes are, the highlights are the confessional exchanges between Mac and Father Cullen (W. Morgan Sheppard) as Mac proves he can test the patience of even a somewhat-saint.
"Thunder Gun Express" S07E11: Ahhh, the sweet, sweet irony of watching The Gang abandon each other so they can see a movie about a hero who never leaves anyone behind. And yet each time it happens, I laugh my ass off even more. Extra points go to Mac's attempt to steal a motorcycle and how it goes oh so wrong.
"Charlie Work" S10E04: As much as we learned to appreciate Charlie's powers during the 13th season when he helped save the Super Bowl for the Philadelphia Eagles (along with Dee's pink eye), this was the episode where we got to see Charlie in "Jason Bourne" mode. Pass a health inspection and help the rest of The Gang out with a scam that (of course) went south? That's what Charlie calls a Monday.
And since we're on the subject of altered realities and passionate love for sitcoms, we would be remiss if we didn't remind you of the seventh episode from the 13th season, "The Gang Does a Clip Show." Directed by Todd Biermann, and written by Dannah Phirman and Danielle Schneider, the 2018 episode found The Gang at Paddy's (shocking!) looking to kill some time waiting for their phones' software to update. From there, a conversation about memories, altered realities, and the fallibility of memory take center stage. And as their memories (and a lot more considering the sweet twist at the end) become more and more twisted, we're treated to a segment that turned out to be a perfect homage to a very famous Seinfeld episode, "The Contest." Our favorite part of the clip above? Dennis and Mac as dueling Jerrys- nice touch.