This review of Always Sunny contains spoilers.
Always Sunny Season 14 Episodes 9 & 10
While FX and the media have rightly been celebrating It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s historic, record-tying 14th season, it does seem pretty bizarre that FXX is burning the final two episodes of this season so unceremoniously, back-to-back on one night. Perhaps they think folks are too busy on the night before Thanksgiving to tune into the season finale? Regardless, “A Woman’s Right to Chop” and “Waiting for Big Mo” both represent two different molds of the typical Sunny outing – the political/social commentary and the genre experimentation/situational comedy. Both episodes execute those models extremely well, with “A Woman’s Right to Chop” getting a slight edge just because it’s so sharp and biting.
The gang tackles the abortion issue, which even though should have been settled once and for all with Roe v. Wade in 1973, is somehow being relitigated in 2019. Instead of tackling an actual pregnancy, the Sunny writers use women’s hair and Poppins, Mac’s long-lost dog, as stand-ins. When a new salon in the area opens up, the women who frequent Paddy’s begin getting short pixie cuts, which angers Dennis, Mac, Charlie, and Frank. They believe men should have a say in how women wear their hair, i.e. they believe they should be able to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body.
Of course, Dee takes issue with this ridiculous entitlement and threatens to chop her own hair, which sends Dennis into one of his typical rages. Meanwhile, Mac and Charlie take Poppins to a vet and its revealed that Poppins is actually a girl and she’s pregnant. Unfortunately, because of Poppins advanced age, he (or she) will die if he carries the puppies to term. Charlie and Mac’s confusion over Poppins gender and their insistence that they “don’t do gender” anymore are great jokes, as is Charlie’s surprise that Mac wants Poppins to get an abortion and Mac’s response that “this is different, this effects me.”
Basically, the male members of the gang tout the unspoken things men are really getting at when they reveal their opposition to abortion; they are angry that they can’t control women, they’re angry that a woman would reject being a mother, they’re opposed to abortions unless they’re confronted with pregnancy complications personally, and in Frank’s case, they’d prefer adoption to be considered.
The episode ends with a reveal that the female dog they believe to be Poppins isn’t actually Poppins, but belongs to the hairdresser that is set to chop off Dee’s hair. They make an offscreen deal to return her dog in exchange for canceling Dee’s appointment. This leads to Dee getting a “back-alley chop,” a not so thinly veiled metaphor for what happens when abortion rights are taken away. The gang agrees that they’d rather women get “chops” in a safe, appropriate place if they insist on doing what they want with their bodies, before conceding that they never really cared about the “short hair” issue to begin with. It’s a smart, and most importantly, funny way to look at such a sensitive issue and another example of Sunny tackling touchy subject matter in an age where you supposedly cannot do that in comedy anymore.
“Waiting for Big Mo” finds the gang playing laser tag, which apparently is something they’ve been doing for quite a long time. The laser tag game is just another way to highlight our central characters’ quirks, particularly Dennis’. Dennis is so concerned with winning, he doesn’t let the gang actually participate in the game and have fun, instead forcing them to cheat and camp their base. He uses positive reinforcement on Dee to control her, knowing that she’ll be unable to accept compliments and get worked up into a rage, and negative reinforcement on Mac, knowing that he’ll get worked up too. He doesn’t even bother to turn Frank’s pack on, using him as a distraction, and keeps a watchful eye on Charlie because as we know, he’s the wild card.
A lot of the solid jokes come from Charlie misunderstanding what a riddle is and from Dennis’ obsession with Fun Zone Dolla Dolla Billz and the Fun Zone mascot, Rutherford B. Crazy. Every time Dennis talks about either, he slips into something akin to ‘90s urban slang, even when he’s trying to make a salient point. There are also good jokes made at the expense of the titular Big Mo, who they assume to be a fat kid.
There isn’t much substance to this one until the ending, when the writers use Dennis to get meta on the state of Sunny. After Dennis learns that the Fun Zone creator died sad and alone, he starts to question the gang’s place in “the game,” asking aloud what the point of all of this is if they’re not having fun anymore. Just like in the episode prior, it doesn’t take much thought to see this as a metaphor for the show. The gang decides to “end the game” and leaves the laser tag arena, before returning to gang up on Big Mo, declaring that they’re never going to leave. If you were worried that this could be the series finale of It’s Always Sunny, rest easy. This seems like direct confirmation that the gang isn’t going anywhere.
Well, that’s it for Season 14 (!) of It’s Always Sunny. Let us know what your favorite episodes were from this season in the comments and join us next year when Sunny breaks the record for the longest running live-action sitcom!
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.