Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez (Getty)
You thought Mac finally coming out last season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was something? Well (spoiler alert!), the season 13 finale”Mac Finds His Pride” was unlike anything we anticipated when the show ignored its usual comedic recipe and proceeded to follow Rob McElhenney’s conflicted bible-thumping, now openly-gay (and chiseled) character onto the dance stage to tell his father he’s gay.
While dancing is no stranger to the finale routine of past seasons, McElhenney did so without his chief co-stars, who played little to no role in the episode, the latter being resident sociopath, played by Glenn Howerton, who has ghosted on us two finales in a row now. Most seasoned “Sunny” fans might have expected to see a public pride event, but McElhenney claims anything besides the heavily choreographed Black Swan-esque ballet for Mac (that lasted five minutes before cutting to black) would have been inauthentic.
“Very rarely do we have any kind of a real emotional resonance,” McElhenney told Deadline. “We’ve been working on this show for 14 years and we want to just try different things, see what works and what doesn’t work. We like to stretch and do things that are a little bit scary.”
McElhenney, who was mostly raised by women and grew up with two gay brothers, is no stranger to the pride community so we trust he knows better than most straight men. Aside from Frank Reynolds and his ‘more disturbing than usual’ appearance in which my girlfriend had to look away half of the episode, the entire finale forewent any comedic twist at the end altogether (and no, Cricket’s gross body in leather chaps doesn’t quite count).
With 13 seasons down, the show took on a very different tone this year running on the heels of the #MeToo movement in which almost every episode addressed a sociopolitical issue, from gender-neutral bathrooms to misogyny in the workplace, leading up to the finale. Overall, only a couple episodes followed the tried-and-true “Sunny” formula people are used to.
For a show that has tapped into gun control, abortion, hate crimes and all depraved forms of the American dream for more than a decade, this season freshly dared to be bold with less focus on cheap payoffs and more emphasis on bold statements with a humorous bent based squarely on current issues. Is that a sign of the times being heavier than ever, or a show running on fumes without its best man (and scarcely involving side characters)? We like to think the former, but the show’s success has ironically pulled each of its core members into new projects, along with several of your favorite “Sunny” side (up) characters (David Hornsby (Cricket) Big Mouth, Jimmi Simpson (Liam McPoyle), Westworld), which may attribute to a scarce, Mac-centric season.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. We knew this would be a very different season the second they gave Sweet Dee (“bird,” “bitch,” “dumb bird,” “stupid bitch”) her comeuppance at the end of the second episode (and her own episode).
At least Mac’s dance moves have improved over the past few years…
McElhenney and Charlie Day have two untitled green-lit projects together underway, while Howerton’s A.P. Bio is in production of its second season, just following the cancellation of Kaitlin Olson’s The Mick.