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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 13 Premiere: The Gang Creates a New Era

One of the most highly anticipated shows of the fall season, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, made its return to TV last night. There’s a lot to say about it, so let’s dive right in.

First of all, the obvious: Mindy Kaling as new character Cindy, and Glenn Howerton’s notable absence. It was made known quite some time ago that Howerton may not be returning to his scene-stealing role as devious sociopath Dennis Reynolds. Pictures of Kaling with the rest of The Gang sparked the debate over what was going to happen with the season.

It is a bit jarring to see another known actor sit in with The Gang, but Kaling does a decent enough job filling the role. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to fit in right away with such a well-known and tight-knit crew that has been working together for such a long time and developed such unique and spontaneous chemistry.

That all being said, the episode meanders a little at first, but once it hits its stride it only gets better from there. The usual subjects are all in play: politics (specifically, how both sides are a little childish and reactionary), Mac’s ever-changing body build (currently extremely in shape), the ominous bell, the Steve Winwood track “Higher Love,” Dee’s resemblance to a bird, etc.

One particularly good bit, especially for long-time viewers, will be the crumbling of Charlie’s new relationship with The Waitress. It was a bit off-putting to see them wind up together at the end of season 12 after so many years of her rejecting Charlie (for some pretty good reasons), so it got a nice chuckle when it reverted back to square one almost immediately.

Plenty of other fan favorites make their way into episode, like Mac’s Famous Mac N Cheese (deemed “inedible” by Charlie), The Waitress returning to her drinking habit, Mac’s concern about his physical appearance, and Dee’s resemblance to a bird. Mac’s open homosexuality is now fully in play, as he purchases a sex doll in the likeness of Dennis; he can deny it all he wants, but the rest of The Gang knows he will be having sex with that doll “the second they leave the room.”

Towards the end of the episode, it becomes clear that the plot here isn’t about whatever half-baked “plan” The Gang has going on; it’s about the lack of Dennis. Eventually, they start imagining that the doll is talking to them, as they reference things Dennis would say in different situations. It’s their acknowledgement that things are going to have to move forward with or without Dennis, however difficult that may be for them (and by extension, the viewers).

The best bit comes right at the end of the episode though, as the camera pans away from the sex doll and shifts back to reveal Dennis, in the flesh. It’s a great moment as he doesn’t miss a beat, jumping right back into his role of denigrating The Gang and asserting himself as The Golden God. The very last bit of the episode is a terrific reference to his relationship with Mac throughout the series, as he asks “Mac, did you gain a little weight?”

Given everything going on with the show (the uncertainty of Howerton returning, the longevity of the show, a new character, etc.), it’s a nice strong return for one of the most beloved sitcoms of recent memory. Whenever Always Sunny finally runs its course, it will be remembered as a legendary show, with supremely intelligent, witty dialogue and bizarre, surreal humor. As the start to this new era in Sunny history, this seems to be The Gang saying, “We hear your concerns, and we understand them, but don’t worry. We’ve got it.”

This reviewer is happy to be along for the ride.

Rating: 8 out of 10

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 13 airs every Wednesday night on FXX.

Andrew Howie
Andrew Howie
Andrew Howie is a Midwestern treasure who isn't exactly sure how to talk about himself without being sarcastic and self-deprecating. His music taste is pretentious and he wants to tell you all about it.

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