How I Got Through This

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Got Me Through 2020

The Gang’s chaos agents helped me understand what the hell just happened

Michelle Legro
GEN
Published in
4 min readDec 28, 2020

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Photo illustration; source: FXX /Courtesy: Everett Collection

At the end of every day, I slide three feet from the desk where I sit with my computer, to the couch where I sit with my computer. I’ve made something for dinner — at this point an exercise in calories, and boredom, usually over polenta — when my boyfriend turns to me and asks me the same question. “Time for The Funny?” he says.

It’s been a long day online, my brain has melted into a jiggly-wiggly blob. “One Funny,” I reply. “Maybe two.”

The Funny is 30 minutes of the only thing that has brought unfiltered, screaming, crying laughter into my life over the last eight months: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, all 14 seasons, 154 episodes. By the end of the year I will have watched it all — except for the five episodes that have been removed from Hulu for blackface and other offensive impressions. The past 15 years of the show’s run have been a journey, to say the least.

A low-budget, shaky-camera show that premiered in 2005 and was never supposed to make it past season one, It’s Always Sunny is a half-hour sitcom that has outlasted the age of half-hour sitcoms. It was just renewed for four more seasons, making it the longest-running live-action sitcom in the history of television, breaking the streak set by Ozzie and Harriet.

The Gang is a set of All-American schemers. Creator Rob McElhenney has described the show as Friends, except unlike the show’s title song, they are never there for you. The Gang is Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie, and Frank, and the empty canvas is Paddy’s Pub, a room which might as well have no entrances and no exits. As the years accumulate their world becomes smaller, their outlooks more cruel, their vengeance more petty, their schemes more surreal as they strain against Paddy’s dirty walls.

Dee and Dennis are booted out of their upper-middle-class existence with all of its consumer trappings — a Land Rover and a big suburban house — by the only father they’ve known, Frank, a Boomer who gives up on generational wealth by slumming it as a bar owner. Charlie and Mac are childhood friends with single mothers…

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Michelle Legro
GEN
Writer for

Deputy Editor, GEN. Previously an editor for Topic, Longreads, The New Republic, and Lapham’s Quarterly. gen.medium.com