The Gang goes to abuse another confused female therapist, but this time, we get what I’d hoped would happen three seasons ago in “The Gang Gives Frank An Intervention”—individual therapy sessions that we get to sit in on.
“The Gang Gets Analyzed” incorporates two things that I particularly like on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia—seeing the main characters out of the context of the Gang, and forcing reasonable characters to interact with the Gang for longer than a scene. Like I’ve mentioned before, hanging out exclusively with the main characters can sometimes get a little monochromatic, especially as the characters steadily get less and less rational as the seasons pass. I wouldn’t say this is exactly a bad thing, because in the first season Kaitlin Olson probably would have been all “ugh, I can’t believe you guys,” instead of making her psoriasis snow on the therapist or closing out the episode with a plate-smashing fugue state lasting 30 remarkable seconds. But the contrast of pulling back a bit to show people reacting to the Gang can be a nice seasoning on these later, uh, seasons.
Enough people have been making amateur diagnoses of the Gang’s specific psychological issues for so long that it seems natural to dig into that subject. Each main character gets some seriously funny moments in his or her session—Frank deliberately spewing pistachio shells all over the place, Charlie’s Lennie Small-esque moment as the dead pigeon hits the table, Dee’s repetitive demands to be told she’s good. It's actually worth watching twice for The State alum Kerri Kenney-Silver’s great reaction shots—it’s kind of amazing the gradients of confusion, horror, sympathy, frustration, rage, and contempt she communicates while in the character of a therapist desperately trying not to express any of those feelings.
In addition to being extremely funny, though, some of the talks get kind of real. Mac’s identification of the pen as looking like a penis, immediately followed by quasi-erotic fidgeting with it over the course of the conversation was particularly funny, but also seemed to be a more overt confirmation of his repressed homosexuality, which the writers have been dropping less and less subtle hints about for ages.
And everyone but Dennis gets a small flash of truth amid all the insanity, even if they immediately go back on it. Frank is so ready to unzip his hideous past at Nitwit School that he goes from declaring that his dome is Fort Knox to complete breakdown with barely any prompting. “Sometimes, I feel like they don’t even understand me, and we’re not even that good of friends,” says Mac, though he immediately takes it back. Dee, likewise, takes back her flash of gleeful “I’ve been acting the whole time!” honesty. Charlie, interestingly, is the most self-aware, and the only one who seems concerned about whether he’s bad, though he seems to be reassured by the idea that if he acquires more skin to be comfortable in then he’ll never have done anything bad.
Glenn Howerton does an excellent job of being intolerably smug—Dennis was like nails on a chalkboard from his first “Let me stop you right there” to the appreciative slow clap. He speaks entirely in that over-enunciated Dennis Explains It All voice this episode, and comes off as far, far more deeply crazy than the rest of the Gang, particularly when casually walking behind the therapist’s chair and showing her his drawing of himself in a sexual situation with a giant-boobed version of her. We also find out that Dennis is secretly behind Mac’s weight loss (which Mac does not appreciate— “I was as big as a skyscraper! And now I’m tiny as a postage stamp!” he yells, unconsciously directing the illustrative gestures at his crotch) by feeding him speed. That explains a few things.
- “Like—this pigeon! Let him be who he wants! Let him fly away! Go!” THUD.
- “I feel like you’re mirroring my words, but you’re not exactly understanding them.”
- Always love when Mac gets sound effects on his karate moves.
- Dennis started keeping a crayoned psychological file on Dee when they were both in the second grade.
- “Did you like that? Did you think that was good? Tell me I’m good. Tell me it was good. Tell me I’m good. Tell me I’m good. Tell me that was good. Tell me I’m good. Tell me I’m good. Tell me I’m good. Tell me I’m good tell me I’m good tell me I’m good tell me I’m good tell me I’m good—”
- “Let me first just say that arguments do not have winners.” The comments section last week was interesting, in part because I was home sick and high on migraine medicine. So while I won’t be diving into the comments with such, uh, gusto until the next migraine that falls on a Friday, I will say this: Specific arguments make for much better conversation than just “This grade/idea/reviewer sucks!” with no explanation. (And again, here’s a brief explanation of how A.V. Club TV grading works, if you're not familiar.) For sure, if you object to my interpretations, semi-arbitrary grades, or stupid jerk face, you should go ahead and say that! Just do everyone a favor and say “This sucks because…”