TV RECAP: ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Mac Fights Gay Marriage’

Welcome back, Sunny! Good to see your smiling faces once more, and it looks like you managed to handle the interim pretty well. No new scars, shaved beards, dyed hair (or, in the case of Charlie Day and Danny DeVito, neatly combed follicles). The only difference is Kaitlin Olson’s pregnancy (which I understand will become the basis for a future episode…but I’m getting ahead of myself).

Season…umm…we’re up to six already? Wow. Season six opens with “Mac Fights Gay Marriage” (for those of you too lazy to read the title of this article) wherein wannabe bodybuilder Mac, trying to pass himself off as Dennis to get free gym access, discovers that his former “lover” The Tranny has finally gotten her sex-change operation. Excited at the prospect of consummating their “relationship,” Mac’s libido-broken to also discover that s/he’s likewise gotten married.

Back at the bar, Mac relates his disgust at the union to the rest of the nonplussed gang and proclaims that it’s unnatural and wrong, seeing as how The Tranny used to be a man, and in some logically twisted sense, that goes against God (this sort of grey area would make for neat subplot in a Curb Your Enthusiasm). The gang usefully points out the irony in Mac’s disgust since he was dating The Tranny back when s/he was a man, but the observation goes over his head, and he launches a half-assed all-out campaign against gay marriage.

Meanwhile, Mac’s inane rantings prompt the gang to reexamine their own empty lives. Dennis, in an uncharacteristic desire to feel feelings again, decides to reconnect with his old high school flame Maureen Ponderosa (which does sound like the kind of girl Dennis would date), and Sweet Dee equally decides to do likewise with Ponderosa’s brother—who hasn’t fared quite as well since high school.

Frank and Charlie figure they should marry each other (for some glossed-over reason I don’t entirely recall/understand), too, though Frank has some reservations, particularly regarding which one of them has to get their member lopped off “and sold to China.” However, once that nasty misunderstanding is cleared up (by The Tranny no less), Frank’s pretty gung-ho. After all, nothing’s sexier than two married swingin’ bachelors.

Dennis makes good with Ponderosa at a noticeably noticeable Burger King (the Burger King doesn’t really tie into the scene, but damn is it noticeable), and in the next scene they’re husband and wife—which leads to Dennis throwing Mac out of the apartment (and revealing that Mac doesn’t actually own anything in their flat and, presumably, elsewhere). So Mac goes to Dee’s with what appears to be a marriage proposal of convenience only to find a nervously drunk Dee with a bloated Ponderosa brother in her bedroom.

That’s about the episode right there. Not too much is made of Mac’s anti-gay-marriage crusade other than a few Bible quotes about men lying with other men and beating one’s slaves, but I liked the fact that its driven entirely by Mac’s anger at not getting to bang the post-op tranny. Likewise, Dennis and Dee’s impetus for marriage is nicely spurred from insecurity at not being married more than any love they may feel for their actual/potential spouse (and Maureen’s jeweled cat sweatshirt was a nice touch—she seems like the perfect mate for Charlie, too). And Frank and Charlie’s domestic partnership is simply a matter of going along with everyone else.

But while the episode stays true to Sunny’s misanthropic nihilism and sets the scene for a lot of good laughs, it falls pretty flat. Mac’s latent homosexuality makes him the perfect character to carry an episode like this, but his storyline never really takes off. Frank and Charlie barely have a storyline, and Dee appears only at the beginning and end, in a kind-of meh button. Dennis is the standout, but his realization at marrying the wrong person tread the all-too-familiar territory of “you can’t go out with the guys because you’re married now” that seemed lifted directly from Seinfeld and about a zillion other shows that have done it before. In fact, getting Dennis married felt more like a setup for future installments than anything else.

In all, it feels like this season opener belongs among the weaker episodes of last season, which also had some good premises but never really delivered. But I don’t mind. Sunny can be an uneven show, and when it strikes fire, it strikes hot. Let’s just move on and see what else the gang has to offer.

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