5 Things I Learnt About Life From Watching 12 Seasons Of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

I’ve spent a huge portion of my life watching TV shows and movies, so it feels unfair not to write about it. I’m the quintessential binge-watcher, utilizing my qualities of perseverance, fortitude and introversion to get through hours and hours of content churned out by (mostly) American production houses.

Sitcoms hold a special place in my heart. I was a shy teenager given to retreating into my shell as often as I could but still craving the ‘human experience’. So I turned to the Internet. And to TV shows. And gradually, life to me just became a shtick. Everything was a performance, and the inevitable punchline just seconds away. Of course, this weirdness is not how the world actually works, but I have always felt very strongly in my heart that it maybe does, just a little bit, and heaven help me if I let the punchline get away.

I started watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia around 6 months ago on the recommendation of a friend, and it’s truly been one of the best things I’ve done in my life. There, I said it. I just said that watching over 70 hours of one of the longest running American sitcoms in history has been a life highlight for me. I have laughed, I’ve been disgusted, I have marveled at the sheer absurdity and utter detestability of the main characters, I’ve wondered if human beings are capable of sinking any lower and I’ve been surprised each time. Let’s cut to the chase. Here are the 5 things I learnt from the show :

  1. Hope sells : Hope is the premise of this entire show, and also the main premise of the United States, and also of humankind. Hope is why capitalism is thriving and why I’m writing blog posts. And hope has effectively sold every single episode of this show because the underlying situations and people are so dark that you want to go for a jog in the park after each episode to shake it off. If you actually start thinking about the characters, the volume and variety of concerns that a psychologist would raise – it would easily pay for a 30 year career in therapy.
  2. It’s important for the women to be as terrible as the men : Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds is the only woman in the main cast, a highly selfish and morally corrupt character prone to crack cocaine addiction and violent fits of rage. She is excluded from most decisions and pranks on purpose, with the men constantly attacking her for being a woman in the worst way imaginable – taking credit for her ideas, blaming her for every time things go wrong, calling her “emotional” and making fun of her physical appearance. Here’s the best part – Deandra has no actual good qualities that would serve as any kind of redemption. In fact, in one episode, when she was tired of being shit on, she succumbs to smoking/alcohol (everyone is an alcoholic) and depression completely. So much so that the gang tries to give her hope again by creating an elaborate setup to fool her into thinking that she has become a successful stand-up comedian. They reveal to her in the end that it was all a setup (they had me fooled as well – that’s how good the writing was) and she flies into a violent fit. And that’s how you deal with depression. Another example is Mac’s mother – a chain-smoking grunt who clearly does not give a shit about her son. An equal playing ground is when the women are as terrible, if not more, than the men. That they have fully developed, complex characters that are wholly despicable and very important.
  3. Don’t drink paint or eat cheese before a date : Charlie Kelly, one of the main cast, is a consumer of various inedible/gross things, including but not limited to cat food, raccoon meat, reptile scales, sunscreen, trash, paper and chalk. There’s an episode in which Charlie imprisons a small man with a glue trap because he thought the man was a leprechaun. And then he goes on to consume an inordinate amount of paint, which almost causes him to torture the man physically *cue laughter*. He is also prone to consuming copious amounts of cheese before every date to calm his nerves. The smell usually drives his dates away. Anyway, it’s probably not a good idea to drink paint.
  4. Marketing is probably the most important thing ever: Whenever the gang wants to do something, they are usually only concerned about the selling part and not the actual work or product. I find this superbly hilarious. I watch on in wonder as they get into a series of arguments about (truly terrible) ideas on how to tackle any money-making scheme and proceed to fail spectacularly. And outside the well-defined plots of funny sitcoms, in the wilderness of the real world – truth is a matter of perception and belief. The people who control the narrative at the top know this. And we’re the fools.
  5. Karma isn’t a bitch but she won’t text you back : The gang wrecks most lives it touches – people are rendered homeless, eyeless, divorced etc due to being involved with them. However, there is no real payback for the gang itself. Sure, they are failures but they are still pretty okay compared to the damage that they’ve caused to other people who ironically still hang around Paddy’s Pub. This led me to think a little about what people like to tell themselves – that the bad energy that you put out in the world comes back to bite you in the arse later on. This is just simply not true. Lives are too complex and random for this statement to be true. However, I have found that selfishness and assholery breeds more of the same around you, and it’s difficult to actually benefit from real kindness and love when you are a horrible human being, simply because you don’t see the value in it. So while karma might not be a bitch every time, she won’t text you back.

In summation, I’m going to start the 13th season now. It’s the holidays after all.