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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
The Christmas-themed special of the popular TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia works in every way imaginable. Released towards the end of the show’s fifth season, A Very Sunny Christmas would seem tough to get into. After all, the show has already established itself with its own unique blend of humor and recurring characters. Like getting into Lost in the middle of its run, how would the non-fan be able to follow anything that goes on?
Something tells me that the writers (and stars) Charlie Day, and Rob McElhenney knew this was a potential problem, so, like many of their episodes, it is completely stand alone. They do not include any side characters (discounting parents) and any references back to previous events are kept to an absolute minimum. The characters’ relationships to one another and personalities are immediately established. The best part is that, for a Sunny fan, none of this seems redundant and everything is woven in neatly. In other words, you get the Sunny 101 without it feeling like Sunny 101.
So, I have established it works as a jumping-on point. Does that mean it is any good? In this case, yes, it is. And, I would go as far to say that it is probably one of the best installments of It’s Always Sunny produced thus far. I think why it works is that the special has a lot of heart and it really hones in on the essence of the Christmas spirit (albeit in its own twisted way).
We have two stories running parallel to each other. In the first Charlie (Day) and Mac (McElhenney) discover some shocking truths about their childhood Christmases. In the second, Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) attempt to give Frank (Danny DeVito) their own version of A Christmas Carol as revenge for ruining their childhood Christmases.
The stories are fairly standard, but what makes them stand out is the total absurdity of which they carry out their various schemes. Charlie and Mac’s tale, in particular, is just completely nonsense, but wonderful nonsense. What makes it work are the intercut flashbacks of Charlie and Mac growing up. The kid actors they got are perfect, and it really adds a whole new level to their friendship. It is wonderful to see this play out.
I throw my full recommendation behind A Very Sunny Christmas. If you are already a fan of the show, this is required watching. If you never bothered to check it out, this would be a perfect jumping on point. It is funny, heartwarming, and really gives people a unique Christmas viewing experience.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to throw some rocks at trains.