Ah, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is back. Does everyone else feel the warmth? Sure, there's other sitcoms out there that'll make you laugh and make you think, but how many can open with a character praising someone's cameltoe and later have a scene that makes you reach for your Bible? I write this review from the eye of a Brooklyn tornado (seriously! trees getting ripped off the ground and shit! in Brooklyn!) but I feel safe and warm, because Sunny's back.
And whoa, it has like, a plot! Twenty minutes in, I thought to myself, hell, this story is too complicated for them to wrap up in the next two minutes! And I was right. Sure, Sunny's done two-parter episodes before, but I seem to recall them all airing in blocks together (I might be wrong on that one). The unmentioned "to be continued" was probably the least satisfying part of the episode, because one of Sunny's chief joys is its chaotic conclusions, but all-in-all I liked "Mac Fights Gay Marriage" a lot, and it bodes well for the coming season.
Mac's burgeoning homosexuality and his relationship with Carmen "the tranny," first addressed in season one's "Charlie Has Cancer" (where he meets her) and again in "Mac is a Serial Killer" (where he bangs her) is one of his best storylines and I'm happy to see it revisited here. I'd really love to see the show really push the envelope and take the idea to what seems to be its natural conclusion, that the workout-obsessed, virulently right-wing Mac is as gay as a puffin. We'll see if that happens, but the episode's best scene was Mac confronting the tranny (now post-op and married to a humongous black man) with a Bible and telling her that lying with another man is wrong.
In the usual tradition of Sunny, it's confronting a topical issue but through the twisted, moronic lens of its characters' brains. Mac accuses Carmen and her husband of being gay-married, but if anyone's gay, the husband points out, it's Mac, who was banging Carmen pre-op. Poor Mac obviously isn't even mad — he's just confused and sad that Carmen never called him after the reassignment surgery. "I'm a hard body, you're a hard body, we could be hard bodies together…I thought we established there would be a phone call after the procedure!" It looks like Carmen is lost as a romantic option for Mac (her husband is a charming dude!) but the show should push the gay angle more, just because Rob McElhenny is so adorable when he's all befuddled. "You're trying to confuse me with your liberal Biblicisms!"
Talk of marriage stirs something deep within Dennis' cold, lonely soul, and he gets in touch with his high school sweetheart Maureen Ponderosa to rekindle their love. Even though she has a dead tooth and her breath smells like "she was nibbling on little pieces of shit," when Dennis sets his mind to something, he's going to see it through, dammit, so he ups and marries her. The girl playing Maureen was agreeably pretty and hilariously depressed at the same time, because her dad committed suicide in the Datsun she used to make out with Dennis in. "His eyes were so yellow." Dennis claims to Mac that he is experiencing "feelings" for the first time since he was 14, but if he is, it's a brief experience: his brushing-off of Maureen's sadness in the Subway was hilarious, and I think the relationship is hitting the skids by the final minutes of the episode.
(Regarding the Subway and Dennis' "sit-down breakfast" plans, it looks like Sunny is gonna keep up with the product placement this year. Oh well, I suppose this is all part of the contemporary landscape of television).
Our third marriage plot comes with Charlie and Frank plotting a domestic partnership, because their traditional health-care remedies (whacking each other with a two-by-four to distract from their back pain) seem to be failing them of late. As genius a plot idea as this is, I'm hoping they do a little more with it in the next episode, because Frank's fretting about who gets to be the woman in the relationship felt a little too pedestrian a gag for Sunny to be making. Charlie's extreme nonchalance about the whole arrangement was a lot better. "We would both be men, we'd be cool straight dudes married to each other!"
Dee's affair with the tubby Bill Ponderosa was nothing much (I'm pretty sure that at this point in shooting, Kaitlin Olson was pregnant, since they're resorting to all the usual TV tricks to hide her tummy) but it did let Olson break out some trademark facial expressions in her gag-reflexing.
I'm surprised at how perturbed I was by this Sunny episode without a conclusion, and really, the show just sort of drifted off in the final minutes. Dennis' last scene, with the mounting realization that Maureen is going to be clingy now that he's married to her, was funny, but in a low-key sort of way that I'm just not used to from a Sunny episode's closing seconds. But "Mac Fights Gay Marriage," even with the show's shocking switch to HD film, felt very consistent with the quality of the show last season, so I'm a happy camper. Nice to see you all again!
Charlie's pile of "alley almonds" was a great side-gag. Mac was all pumped up and full of protein because he and Charlie found a pile of nuts!
Another pile-of-thing gag: Frank's box of pennies. The subsequent back-cracking scene was pretty pointless but pretty funny.
Dee's dismissal of Bill: "Take care of yourself, or whatever…people say…"
Charlie likes the big pile of domestic partner papers. "There's a lot of jelly in these donuts!" But when he sees how easy Dennis' marriage was, he gets mad, and rightly so! Sure, he's making a mockery of the institution as well, but shouldn't he have the same right to make the same mockery?
Dennis thinks Maureen ate "something a bit sinister…must have been Funyuns."
Mac doesn't own a thing in his apartment, something that is "shockingly true." Even his t-shirt used to be Dennis', until Mac retrieved it from the trash and cut off the sleeves, "as you are wont to do," Dennis says.
"Hey, did they really sell your dick to China? No, I can tell by your stare, the answer is no."
I think the Sunny gang has to film their "Lethal Weapon 5" and release it on video, character-switching and Mac in blackface and all.
Mac proposes to Dee, or so she thinks. "Dee, I would rather get shot in the face!" Ha! It's funny cause in real life, they are married!