This review of Always Sunny contains spoilers.
Always Sunny Season 14 Episode 6
I know it’s tiring hearing critics and industry types talk about just how impressive it is that the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang hasn’t run out of steam 14 seasons into their loud, abrasive comedy series, especially given how supposedly difficult this brand of comedy is to pull off in 2019, but everyone better get used to it. Not only has FX already said that, if the creative team is on board, the show could run to an astounding 16th season, but as long as cast and crew keep pumping out episodes like “The Janitor Always Mops Twice,” you’ll keep hearing us singing Sunny’s praises.
In the vein of other great experimental episodes like “Charlie Work,” “Being Frank,” and “The Gang Makes ‘Lethal Weapon 6,” “The Janitor Always Mops Twice” reimagines It’s Always Sunny as a film noir and absolutely nails the execution. Writer Megan Ganz, who also wrote the bat-shit brilliant “Dee Day” from this season, is clearly a fan of the genre, as she peppers in all of the essentials: the hard-boiled dialogue, stock character types, multiple plot threads, pulpy voice over work, and a twist-laden mystery. In an age where genre spoofs have largely fallen by the wayside except for in the world of animation, an apparent loving, well-crafted genre send-up is fun to behold.
It also helps that it’s genuinely funny. The members of the gang may be wearing period appropriate outfits and talking with silly accents, but they’re still the gang. Though Dee insists she’s playing the part of the femme fatale, everyone insists she’s just a “goon,” and it’s funny to watch Dee break character and show some of her classic exasperation. Charlie is in the driver seat as a stand in for the morally grey gumshoe (here called a gum scraper, because he’s just a janitor), but instead of taking in the details of the case while putting back fine bourbon, he’s drinking cocktails mixed with cat food. The gang even calls attention to some of the film noir tropes they’re using, like scenes where characters talk to each other without looking at one another. It’s great parody work with smart, genre appropriate banter that occasionally falls away to remind viewers that this is still a Sunny episode.
The actual plot centers on Charlie trying to uncover who gave Frank “diarrhea poisoning.” Like all good noirs, it’s a twisty-turny tale involving a lot of double-crossing, corruption, the involvement of powerful institutions, and a chantenuse that shouldn’t be trusted, here played by The Waitress. It involves some contaminated maraschino cherries, fermented alcohol, and a couple of groups desperate for booze, but again, like all film noirs, the details aren’t particularly important. What’s important is setting the mood with deliberate monochrome coloring, unconventional camera work like the Dutch angle, and utilizing a flashback device to set the story. All of the film noir boxes are checked. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll be pleased as punch.
I’m a sucker for when Charlie is at the center of the action, anchoring the episode, and this is one of the finest examples. It’s also great to see all of the regular set-pieces, like Paddy’s, presented in a way that we’re not used to seeing them. “The Janitor Always Mops Twice” is yet another successful experiment for a series that refuses to phone it in this deep into their run. Maybe we’ll see other genre spoofs in the future (they already did the classic Ski Movie) or perhaps we can return to the noir versions of these characters again the future. Regardless, this was an incredibly fun and dutifully created episode of It’s Always Sunny and a season highlight.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.