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Sunny in Philly’ offers brilliant career paths

Erin McGinn | Monday, April 23, 2007

With graduation rapidly approaching, the unlucky seniors (like me) who don’t already have jobs or graduate school lined up are scrambling to find some way to make money next year, since flex points and Domer Dollars aren’t valid currency.

If you don’t actually have a real career plan, then the next best thing is to do something with your friends – and, ideally, something where you wouldn’t have to exert yourself and do a lot of work. One possible plan would be to open a bar, and this is exactly the premise of the growing, critically-acclaimed show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Airing during the summers on FX – and entering its third season this summer – “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” revolves around the lives of four completely self-absorbed 20-somethings who run a bar – Paddy’s Pub – in the titular city … because they have nothing else to do. Frequently compared to “‘Seinfeld’ on crack,” the show is less about the bar and more about the antics and situations they encounter in their daily lives.

The show centers on four friends – the twins Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) Reynolds and their friends Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Charlie (Charlie Day). The second season also introduced Dennis and Dee’s father Frank, played to comic perfection by the diminutive yet hilarious Danny DeVito.

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has covered a wide variety of controversial topics, including abortion, gun control and slavery, through the day to day lives of the characters, and often in their politically-incorrect manners. During the first season, their activities included faking cancer in an effort to get laid, turning up on opposite sides of an abortion rally to meet girls (and get laid) and allowing underage high schoolers to drink at their pub – I think one of the characters wanted to get laid.

The second season is where the actors and writers truly hit their stride and the show truly shines. In one episode, Dennis and Dee decide that they are sick of working with their dad, who’s taken part ownership of the bar, so they go on unemployment. Once their unemployment runs out, they try to figure out a way to go on welfare, then set out to smoke crack in order to prove that they’re in need of public assistance. Instead, they wind up addicted to crack and all the while insist that they’ve been emancipated from the daily drudgery of a workday existence to chase their dreams.

The show was created by McElhenney, Howerton and Day, and nearly all of the episodes are written by some combination of those three. They filmed a pilot episode for under $200 and sent it to FX, which decided that it was good enough to be made into a show. Since they air during the summers, the seasons are fairly short. The first season has only seven episodes, and the second only 10. There are supposed to be 12 to 15 episodes in the upcoming season. Although there are few episodes, they are all highly memorable. And much like any Will Ferrell film, the series is incredibly quotable and highly re-watchable.

With only 17 half-hour-long episodes (all available for download from iTunes), it’s entirely possible to get through the series in a weekend. So with study days quickly approaching, grab some friends, some beverages and download the episodes.

And who knows, if you’re an unemployed senior, it might just give you a couple ideas.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.