I’m going to be honest, I completely forgot that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia did an episode in Season 1 called, “Charlie has Cancer,” until the final reveal in tonight’s installment, and it left me with mixed feelings about an episode that I largely enjoyed.
I’ve lost count of how many times Sunny has referenced/borrowed/recycled/’paid homage’ to past storylines so far in Season 8. I have enough faith in the show’s creative team that this stunt isn’t simply them getting lazy in their writing. In a way, it’s a nice statement on how narrow-minded and stubborn The Gang has become in recent years — a simple ‘those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it’ sentiment. The running gag of Frank forgetting his shoes is a nice wink at this idea, but I still can’t help but feel a bit robbed of getting more original stories like we got in the Halloween episode.
Which makes me wonder if Sunny is becoming ‘the scam’ that they spend this whole episode making fun of — an institution that we blindly follow more because of what we expect rather than what we get. But even if I’m slightly disappointed in the product this season, I’m not willing to go that far. The show still cranks out vintage Sunny moments that make me come back week after week, but that’s more of a testament to the characters than the plot (not to say that this have ever been a plot driven show).
Enough of what I didn’t like. There’s a few things about this episode that I absolutely loved, the biggest of which was P. Diddy as the funky bass playing, church gardening Dr. Jinx. Any who’s seen Get Him to the Greek knows that Diddy has major comedic chops, and even if Dr. Jinx was basically just a slightly more eccentric Sergio, it definitely worked for me. Him yelling at Mac for never having watched The Cosby Show, a simple stare at The Gang while he plays “The Right Stuff” by New Kids on the Block on the bass, and the fact that an actual musician plays in a terrible band named after himself all got a laugh out of me.
Another subplot that I enjoyed was Mac, Charlie, and Dennis turning to the church for answers regarding Charlie’s mom’s cancer with all three having very different reactions. Mac, a devout Catholic his entire life, actually has no idea how religion works, simplifying it down to the idea that following orders is the only way to salvation. (“Just do what the priest says and don’t ask questions. You give money and you go to heaven.”) Dennis, obviously, is going to church for personal gain only, trying to ‘knock out some emotion’ after he’s realized that he feels no empathy towards anyone anymore. It’s good for Dennis to at least acknowledge this and try to work towards making himself better, and he gets a nice ‘feelings’ moment at the Beef & Beer & Jesus event, but it turns out it was all fake. But hey, while it isn’t true empathy, faking it to salvage your friend’s feelings is a step in the right direction, so good job, good effort Dennis. Charlie does not understand the church, and he is rightfully upset since he believes his mother is dying. Why does the church ask for money? They should be giving to him to help his medical costs. Charlie has gotten the most to work with as a character this season and Charlie Day has done a great job of mixing the silly (slapping the collection basket away, freaking out over the kneeling and standing) with the surprisingly emotional moments.
Meanwhile, Dee is getting scammed by not only her psychic but by Frank, who plays like he’s losing it only to trick her and the rest of The Gang into digging up his dead whore wife. It was a nice vindication moment for Frank considering he hasn’t had much to do this season, and we get Dennis’ and Dee’s horrifying reaction to Dennis and Dee to their corpse mom, which is an oh so very Sunny way to end the episode.
So the bottom line here is I don’t really know how I am feeling. Clearly I enjoyed the episode. Charlie’s mom not having cancer, much like Charlie faking it in season one, threw me for a loop, but mostly because I, like the rest of The Gang, had forgotten it ever happened. And something just dawned on me, MAYBE THAT WAS THEIR PLAN ALL ALONG. Who knows. Maybe they’re the geniuses and I’m just a guy who’s been at this party for a bit too long.
– Philly wink of the week: “I’ve never been to Haiti…I’ve been to Kensington.”
– “I didn’t feel it much in there, but I do always enjoy those little wafers.”
– The more Artemis, the better.
– Charlie’s contribution to his mom’s speech: “Give me money, money me, money now, me a money needing a lot now.”