Review: ‘The Gang Goes on Family Fight’ is a Classic Episode of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’

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As I’ve said about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia throughout its tenth season, the show is at its funniest when it places its degenerate characters around normal, well-adjusted people. Well, this week the gang appears on a game show in what will surely be one of the high water marks of the series, The Gang Goes on Family Fight. Not only does it place this group of lunatics on national television, it has them tormenting the host, who has to reluctantly maintain a smile throughout. The host, Grant Anderson, played by Keegan-Michael Key, holds the episode together and elevates it into the pantheon of Sunny’s great episodes.

The premise is straightforward. There are no alternate schemes. The gang is simply appearing on Family Fight, which is just Family Feud but not called by its name for obvious reasons. The Reynolds family, as they’re called here, have assorted images that they want to convey. Frank (Danny DeVito) wants to lay out his right-wing political beliefs. Dee (Kaitlin Olson) wants to be a combination of sexy and raunchy like Jenny McCarthy. And Dennis (Glenn Howerton) is trying to coach everyone to come across as normal, though his own answers undermine that image. Meanwhile, Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Charlie (Charlie Day) being themselves are weird enough to freak out the poor host. But can they hold it together enough to win the show let alone not embarrass themselves? Of course not.

It can’t be overstated just how much comedy in this episode comes from Keegan-Michael Key. Half of the great sketch comedy duo Key & Peele, Key has the ability to turn it up to 11, but is experienced enough to know when to be subtler. He has the boisterous voice and charisma that he could actually host Family Feud if, for some unexpected reason, his career to a downturn (it won’t). The Gang Goes on Family Fight is just a perfect showcase for Key’s multiple talents.

Written by the series’ stars and creators, Day, Howerton, and McElhenney, the episode punishes its characters, mostly Dennis, for their own excesses. As much as he wants to appear normal, Dennis’ inflated ego and inability to confront being wrong leaves him crippled when hears the buzzer. The rest of the gangs embarrass themselves in different ways – Mac explains the gang’s convoluted, incestuous family tree; Dee destroys the buzzer and makes inappropriate jokes that will get cut from the episode; Charlie, who was one of the people polled on the streets, has all the right answers but nobody will listen to him.

The Gang Goes on Family Fight takes on the look of a game show, and it only enhances the episode’s robust number of laughs. It’s not a wildly ingenious episode, but it gets the maximum amount of laughs from its premise. With that helpful assist from Keegan-Michael Key, this episode will keep fans of Sunny happy for years to come.

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

 

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