With the early stages of production underway on the 15th season of FXX and FX on Hulu's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it seems the Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito-starring series is finally getting the respect it deserves. And the timing couldn't be better, with the long-running series about ready to make television history (and then cement it if the series runs through its green-lit Season 18). But on Thursday, the accolades hit another level with the New York Times chief TV critic James Poniewozik and their team including the series on their list of "The 21 Best Comedies of the 21st Century (So Far)"– a far cry from the days when Day wanted The Gang to get an EW cover (we agree- it was weird it never happened). Speaking with Austin Considine, here's a look at what McElhenney had to say about the lasting success of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and why laughter is a much tougher tightrope to walk than drama.
We try really hard. We never take an episode off. We start every writers' room the same way, which is us banging our heads up against a whiteboard, trying to figure out how to do something we haven't done before. That's why we've been able to do what we've been able to do for the last 15 years. And the good news is that so much of the fabric of the show is based on satirizing Western culture, and the culture continues to bestow us gifts.
There's nothing freewheeling about the writing part of the process, because we wind up tackling such potentially offensive and dangerous cultural subject matter. We have to be really careful about how we approach it. It doesn't mean that we censor ourselves. But we do have to make sure that we stick the landing as best we can and present a show that is both funny and what we believe is socially and ethically responsible. And to do so, we have to engage in really lengthy conversations.
Now, have we always stuck the landing? No, because as we're all finding as we continue to progress and evolve, we have certain blind spots. But it never comes from a place of malice. A huge part of the comedy is that you want to take risks. You want to jump out into the abyss and see what happens. You're going to make mistakes, but then we hopefully learn from those mistakes and then we fix them.
Here's the dirty secret: It's a lot easier to please larger groups of people with drama. Everybody can agree on the things that make us cry. But none of us can agree on what makes us laugh. So when you're trying to make somebody laugh, it becomes niche. There's this lack of respect that comes with comedy because it just seems like we're a bunch of clowns. I guess I don't quite get that. I mean, besides "Annie Hall," can you think of a comedy that won best picture? We all would rather be miserable than laugh?
Bleeding Cool had the opportunity to ask Glenn Howerton about the upcoming 15th season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia during our one-on-one interview ahead of A.P. Bio Season 3 here stateside late last year. In the clip below, Howerton explains that the combination of pandemic-related delays and other projects that the cast is committed to (for example, the second season of McElhenney's Mythic Quest, Olson's Jean Smart-starring comedy Hacks, the fourth season of A.P. Bio, etc.) has made it difficult to finalize a production ("at this point, it's more of a timing thing"). Though they may still be in the process of "trying to figure it out," Howerton expressed how excited and committed they are to a strong 15th run (saying "maybe even a sixteenth" at the time).
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