Frank: This is dark.
Dennis: Darkest thing we have ever done.
On my visit yesterday to the set of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” those were the first lines uttered in the first scene that I observed. As they filmed the episode, the lines were repeated take after take. As a journalist reporting on the show, it’s hard to shake “dark” as my first impression of the upcoming seventh season.
While the cast agreed that the upcoming season’s premiere (on a date TBD in September) was indeed a darker season than some previous, they were not inclined to share specifics. In short order, however, Rob McElhenney was willing to divulge the themes of several episodes, “We’re doing an episode that would be the realistic version of Pretty Woman,” to which he added, in case it was unclear how this played out, “Frank proposes to a prostitute.” So there’s that.
If that’s too crass for your tastes, McElhenney quickly followed up with, “We have one with a child beauty pageant.” The entire cast was extremely forthright with topics for the upcoming season without managing to spoil the surprises. For instance, in a season two look-ahead, they had offered up that Charlie gets into an accident and ends up in a wheelchair without so much as shedding a ray of light on the fact that he becomes Tom Cruise from Born on the Fourth of July while screaming “VIET-GODDAMN-NAM IS WHAT HAPPENED!” So what the beauty pageant entails is anyone’s guess. The only assurance is that it will be conducted with the quiet dignity for which “Sunny” is known.
And, lest you believe the show remains rooted in the secular world, Charlie Day offered assurances that the gang will get philosophical, conveying, “With 2012 coming up, we’re gonna be tackling the apocalypse.” He ominously offered no further details.
The most significant breakthrough of season seven won’t be the end of days or Frank whoring around (again), but something far more unlikely. The gang gets out of Philadelphia. But not too far. They get to the Jersey shore. (The fact that I initially felt compelled to capitalize the “s” in “shore” makes me hate myself.)
“We worked very hard to create an episode” said Glenn Howerton, “that is not an episode about the people from the Jersey Shore.” When asked if that meant that Dennis would not be donning a spray tan,” he responded, “I’m not saying I won’t have a fake tan,” while Kaitlin Olson fired back, “Don’t put words in our mouth.”
While the group agreed to keep at least one big guest star (“Pretty famous guy,” giggled Day. “Rhymes with ‘Osama’.”) close to the vest, they offered up season seven appearances by “The Wire” and”Fringe” star Lance Reddick, Jason Sudekis reprising his role from last year, and Coen brothers staple Jon Polito playing Frank’s brother. Click here and you’ll see why.
We’ll also see a little more from The Waitress (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) than we did last season, which means we can also enjoy seeing more emotional trauma for Charlie. And because their guest stars are seemingly determined by a monkey at a dart board (remember Sinbad and Rob Thomas?), a visit will also be paid by no less than the Kings of Leon. Despite the band’s
While the set visit and the discussion of the episodes touched on some dark topics, the underlying message during the interview, seemed to be “more of the same.” Which, if you’re a “Sunny” fan thus far, is all the good news you’ll really need to get excited for season seven.
But in case it’s not, there’s also this: Rob McElhenney gained fifty pounds to play Mac this season. Why? For the sheer comedy of playing his character as a fat guy. “It’s been disgusting to watch him go through with this adventure,” said Charlie Day. “We were a little on the fence about it for his own personal health and safety,” he added, “but it has definitely made Mac a lot funnier.”
See ya in September.