This review of Always Sunny contains spoilers.
Always Sunny Season 14 Episode 7
We’ve had our fair share of crises in America in the years since It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia debuted, ranging from unmitigated disasters to ongoing public nightmares. No matter the issue at hand, one constant you can count on are the people on the sidelines playing Monday morning quarterback. Any asshole with an opinion can sit on a barstool and propose a path forward – I’ve been there myself and clinked glasses with friends as we solved all of America’s problems. It’s so simple! Why can’t our leaders get it right? In the rare case this talk actually leaves the friend confines of your neighborhood local, the absolute last people you want working in the public’s best interest are Dennis, Mac, Charlie, Dee, and Frank. When The Gang Solves BLANK, the rest of us suffer.
Viewers tend to win, though, as some of Always Sunny’s best episodes are when the Gang sets out to solve things; North Korea, the Gas Crisis, and that complicated Bathroom Problem. Their plan in “The Gang Solves Global Warming” doesn’t come as fully formed out of the box as its predecessors, but leaves us plenty of laughs along the way as the Gang confronts what it means to be socially conscience.
It will take a collective effort to mitigate the damage we’ve already done to our planet, and the Gang at least somewhat understands that and seems genuinely interested in making changes as the episode opens. The Gang feels a sense of urgency for the sake of future generations, and trading the Always Sunny theme song for Glenn Frey’s “The Heat is On” from Beverly Hills Cop lets the audience know they mean business.
It’s mildly reassuring that consensus on climate change caught up to Mac’s worldview, even though he later admits there’s a dearth of logic and an overreliance on faith behind his convictions. Mac’s asides in the episode mostly function to annoy Dennis as he attempts to keep an uncharacteristically sexy party going inside Paddy’s Pub. The Mac, Dennis, and Frank storyline is mostly inconsequential, with a few fun gags punctuating their lack of knowledge about climate change and how ill-equipped they are at actually servicing a crowded bar. The potential of those scenes is slighted by the misuse of Mac’s church friends who stay huddled in the corner, and a group of generic, young bar patrons who are little more than eye candy. The episode will be notable for inevitably coining Fox News’ 2020 slogan thanks to this gem from Mac: “When opinion meets fact, that’s when you get truth.” Dennis’ disgusted reaction is flawless work from Glenn Howerton.
The funniest bits and strongest messaging in the episode come from Dee and Charlie, which is historically a home run pairing for the show. Structurally speaking, the episode mirrors season four’s “America’s Next Top Paddy’s Billboard Model Contest.” In that episode Mac, Dennis, and Frank are relegated to the bar as they plot to draw in more customers, while Dee and Charlie hit the streets of Philadelphia to shoot a viral video featuring Dee’s dreadful “characters.” What’s been refreshing in the past two seasons is Dee incrementally gaining confidence and in some instances respect in episodes like “The Gang Escapes” and “Dee Day.” In general, more storylines driven by Dee are long overdue and in “The Gang Solves Global Warming,” Dee is once again putting herself out there, this time on Instagram. Her handle @Starring_Dee_Reynolds even indicates that she’s not entirely let go of the notion that she’s star material. Instagram celebrity fits her personality well, since it feels like a shortcut to stardom and provides instant gratification.
Dee’s use of Instagram initially comes off as noble. She’s advocating for using less plastic with her new eco-friendly kicks. The guys see right through it, though, and her IG story packs enough signal virtuing to make even the wokest influencer hard swipe right. With Charlie there to add some comedic juice as they struggle to get a single bag of ice back to Paddy’s without melting, the literal easiest possible task, nearly every scene provides a memorable moment as they try to do it with a minimal carbon footprint. Dee advocating for ride sharing over the bus, a hilariously backwards understanding of how both modes of transportation affect our environment, leads to one of my favorite jokes in the episode. When she asks Charlie how much pollution a bus causes, he responds “Three?” Three what, Dee asks. “Pollutions?”
Dee and Charlie’s storyline allows the episode to hum along in its contemplation of how shaming people on the internet and virtue signaling is far from an effective way to inspire change in real life, especially when you’re staging your social consciousness and don’t understand how to be environmentally responsible in the first place. In one of the season’s best endings, Dee’s IG story shows her reprehensible behavior throughout the day. From spending years inside Paddy’s Pub, we knew the Gang should never touch an issue like this. Thanks to Charlie, an inspired Instagram auteur, the public can now see what we’ve seen all along, and can cancel them accordingly.