Review: Pratfalls and Paranoid on ‘Always Sunny’ as ‘The Gang Spies Like U.S.’

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Though I found last week’s episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia light on the laughs though long on ambition, this week’s episode proves that it was just a minor hiccup. The Gang Spies Like U.S. has Sunny doing what’s in done well since the earliest episodes – examine a political subject through the eyes of its warped characters. In this particular episode, the gang takes on what they perceive to be an invasion of their privacy.

Upon learning that the fish factory across the street has installed cameras pointed directly at their bar, the gang decides to turn the tables by spying right back. As Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Mac (Rob McElhenney) convince Dee (Kaitlin Olson) to work at the fish factory, Charlie (Charlie Day) and Frank (Danny DeVito) begin spying on their own cohorts. Paranoia and subterfuge abounds. While the group is split into factions spying on one another, Dee is having a difficult time blending in at her new surroundings. Of course, their attempts at spying on the fish factory has repercussions that affect the market price of fish throughout Philadelphia. Frank believes he’s found evidence of collusion between Dennis, Mac, and the Chinese management of the fish factory with their goal to be opening a pastry factory. However, there was a slight mix-up of semantics.

The idea that anyone is pointing cameras in their direction is the kind of the event that would motivate these particular narcissists into thinking that those cameras are aimed squarely at them. Even though nobody is actually spying on them aside from each other, there’s no conceivable way in their minds that anyone could not be interesting in the day-to-day events of their lives. The ensuing mix-up, where a porn slang is taken at its literal meaning, places the entire spy game into perspective – everyone’s just looking at porn.

The episode adeptly mines the mix-up and political content for maximum effect, yet that it isn’t even the best aspect of this episode. This is an episode that consistently gets laughs from some seriously ridiculous pratfalls involving poor Dee. Like last week’s long shot, the staging and execution of these pratfalls are impressive. Unlike last week’s episode, these pratfalls are consistently hilarious, taking place in shots from a distance allowing us to fully survey the extent of the damage.

Halfway though this 10th season, the creative team behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have shown no signs of losing steam. There’s hitting on technical angles, political subtext, and depraved hilarity. They’re still refusing to go easy or validate their characters demented worldview, yet still able to get the audience to go along with their crazy schemes. It’s a balancing act that they’ve been carrying on for a decade, and it only gets more impressive each successive week.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs Wednesdays at 10pm on FX and is streaming through the FX Now app


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