Is the real world catching up to Paddy's? After reading Joel Keller's interview with Rob McElhenney on this site, I couldn't help but have the potential endgame of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on my mind while watching these past couple episodes. Sure, the gang has had their run-ins with the law, as well as the basic laws of the universe, but the threat of Dee and Paddy's getting audited by the IRS this week somehow struck me as more real this time around. I know, I know. We've still got at least until 2013 to watch the downfall play out, and I can't imagine any real life auditor who would give up a case even after having the decaying corpse of a dead dog deposited at her feet, but the reminder that the gang's blatant disregard for social mores will have an expiration date gets me just the tiniest bit choked up.
But let's focus on the present, shall we? Tonight we find out that Dee, on top of spending the money she made from being the tranny's surrogate on a baby blue Vespa, has also decided to claim the baby as a dependent on her taxes. After running into the IRS agent in her hallway (while still riding the Vespa, of course) she scrambles to get evidence of an actual baby together in time for the audit. I loved Dee backing out of the hallway awkwardly on the scooter, another great bit of physical comedy for Kaitlin Olson that made me wish she got to spend more time on that thing throughout the rest of the episode. I guess you have to keep up appearances when you're being scrutinized by the federal government.
Meanwhile, the guys have decided to instate a rudimentary form of democracy at Paddy's to address the day-to-day operations. Mac and Charlie quickly party up (they name themselves the Pickle Party, after their success in sidestepping the controversy of lime wedge thickness in favor of just putting pickles in the beer; add another item to the Sunny cookbook), while Dennis and Frank get into backroom dealings and book-cooking without missing a beat. But once they realize that Dee's IRS investigation will likely lead to an investigation of the bar, they quickly join her cause, but decide that it will be easier to prove that Dee has a dead baby than a live one. In the end, everyone wins: Mac and Charlie technically get their dog funeral, the IRS gets off Dee's back, and everyone goes back to just shouting a lot to get what they want.
This was a relatively quiet episode (when you factor out the dog carcass), but it also had a lot of great character moments that make me hesitate to call it “weak.” Dennis' heart-to-heart with Frank about his “god hole” was actually kind of a sweet moment of self-reflexion, for a sociopath. Even Frank's suggestion that he “fill it with pussy” like he always does doesn't seem to sit too well with him, but knowing that Sunny isn't the heartwarming show about self discovery that they so excellently masqueraded as in this season's promos makes me all the more excited for whatever epiphany Dennis has down the line. I wouldn't say that the “Dennis is definitely a serial rapist” thing is getting old. (Has a joke actually ever gotten old on Sunny? Discuss.) But these folks have proven to have a really good sense of when to change things up, and it might be the perfect time for Dennis to have a spiritual awakening, whatever that entails.
I also very much appreciated Charlie and Mac's initial attempts to express themselves rationally during the gang's first stab at democracy and their inevitable frustration. “I don't know how to express myself except through anger and personal attack!” Mac says with sudden, hilarious clarity. It's the kind of joke you can only do with characters whom we've gotten to know this well, because it gets at Sunny's basic mechanics: This is a show about five people who refuse to engage in any reasonable means of dealing with their problems. To then extend it to a commentary on democracy and partisan politics would have felt on the nose on any other show, but it was done so flippantly and casually that it didn't: “If you're not as educated or informed, then you form a party, and you yell the loudest,” observes Mac.
Although “Sweet Dee Gets Audited” wasn't a stand-out episode by any means, nothing really failed here, either. I can't say that I'm disappointed with a funny half-hour of television with characters I like, and I think Sunny has earned the right to a hang-out episode now and then. After the horrors of the last three outings, it felt like a nice breather and just made me anticipate next week even more.
- I love that by the guys' logic, nothing ensures that reason will prevail more than shouting “Reason will prevail!”
- “That dog is turning into hot soup out there in the sun.”
- The whole discussion between Dee, Mac, and Charlie about getting the baby was fantastic. “You want it for life, or…?” “No no, just a short time baby.”
- “Pickle Party compromise! Tasteful Crucifix Party!”
- My one laugh-out-loud moment in this episode was the reveal of the two crucifixes and the tape recorder in the baby blanket. Such a great, bizarre image.
- “Sick baby, very sick baby. It's so sad when they don't feel well, isn't it?”
- “With real power comes real responsibility, and I don't want any of that shit.”
- I gotta say, Dee was truly terrifying with the chili powder in her eyes, shouting and weeping and bleeding in that pillbox hat. Bravo, Mrs. Olson.
- “Wolf Cola. The right cola for closure.”