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‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’: TV critics pick their favorite episodes

The show’s back for it’s 11th season — here’s what the pros have liked the best about “the most entertaining group of losers ever assembled on TV.”

The ‘Always Sunny’ gang is back with its 11th season, and it’s now the longest-running live-action comedy on cable.

If you don’t know the show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” follows a group of degenerates who run a bar in South Philly. And that’s about it. Don’t expect a long-running plot line in this comedy that feels more like a cartoon than anything else, except maybe the fact that Charlie is actually illiterate.

In honor of this ridiculous television show, we asked TV critics and some random fans to weigh in on their favorite episodes of Always Sunny. Here are some of the most ridiculous:

Critic: Molly Eichel, of The Philadelphia Inquirer

Favorite episode: “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention”

Reasons why: Won’t lie, most of the reason I love this episode is because they drink wine out of soda cans and I remember watching this when it aired and saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Danny DeVito’s Frank was introduced in the second season, mostly as a ratings gambit, but “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention” is the perfect example of how much more of an asset he’d become since joining the cast. Pre-Paddy’s Pub crew days, Frank was, presumably, a regular suburbanite (minus some shady dealings in Vietnam).

But in “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention,” we see how depraved he actually is. He’s trying to bang his sister’s wife at a funeral, he’s a raging alcoholic, and most egregiously, he won’t play Night Crawlers with Charlie anymore. The gang employs a therapist so they can air their grievances. The ep also includes my favorite running joke of the series: Charlie’s illiteracy, which for some reason I always think is funny.

It’s Always Sunny is great because these are a group of people who not only refuse to be redeemed, but don’t understand why they have to be redeemed in the first place. That’s how this episode ends, with the therapist traumatized and Gail the Snail salted out of the bar, and no one any better or than they were before. But who needs personal betterment when you’ve got wine in a can?

Special shout out to “Sweet Dee is Dating a Retarded Person” for the best cold open in a show with a many amazing cold opens. The episode is known for introducing the Nightman phenomenon, but there is nothing funnier in the episode than Dee saying, “I’m definitely not dating a retarded person,” followed by the title card.

Critic: Jonathan Storm, formerly of The Philadelphia Inquirer

Favorite episode: “Paddy’s Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia”

Reasons why: While “The Nightman Cometh” (Season Four) and “Mac Bangs Dennis’ Mom” (Season Two) are probably the two most popular early episodes, I have two different favorites. They demonstrated how totally irreverent the show was willing to go and its complete lack of fear of backlash from powerful interests in the entertainment industry.

In “The Gang Goes Jihad,” the ignoramuses continually insult Jews and Israel. But my favorite is “Paddy’s Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia.” It features my alma mater, The Inquirer, and pokes fun at supercilious critics (Fisher Stevens is superb). But my jaw almost hit the floor after this line from Sweet Dee: “I absolutely called him a faggot. But he ordered Chardonnay. What was I supposed to do?”

Cheesy and insulting gay jokes are a drug on TV comedy. There’s no wink-wink with this one, and it works because it demonstrates the absolute depravity and cluelessness of the most entertaining group of losers ever assembled on TV.

Critic: Brian Lowry, of Variety

Favorite episode: “Charlie Wants an Abortion”

Reasons why: I haven’t really stuck with the show, but my favorite was from the first season, where two of the guys end up on opposite sides of an abortion protest, strictly because one of them wants to hit on a girl who’s involved. It was a perfect example of how utterly self-absorbed they all are.

Unfortunately, I think the show pretty much peaked in its first and second seasons and has never been quite as fresh or funny since.

I also posed the question to some people on Twitter and got some hilarious results.

In this episode from season 7 called “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore,” Dennis and Dee take the group down the shore and all sorts of weird, stereotypical shore shenanigans ensue. Frank and Mac eat a ham that was soaked in rum then get lost in the ocean, Charlie spends a romantic night on the beach with his one true love and Dennis and Dee do PCP with some murderers.

Several people also told me their favorite was “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis” from season 4, in which Mac, Dennis and Charlie sell gasoline because they think it’s some sort of brilliant business plan that will save America from raising gas prices. Meanwhile, Frank thinks that Dee is trying to kill him so he tortures here with mind games.

One more for good measure: A couple avid watchers told me season 3 episode 4 “The Gang Gets Held Hostage” is one of their favorites. In this one, the McPoyle brothers and their sister take the gang hostage in their own bar.

Catch new episodes of “Always Sunny” at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on FX.

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