When someone mentions It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Shining in the same sentence, something immediately seems off. One is a raunchy, comedy series on FXX and the other is a serious staple of the horror film genre. What they both do have in common, though, is a stroke of genius which transcends their respective times.
This season, It’s Always Sunny paid a kind of homage to The Shining. This hasn’t been the first time the comedy writers and cast tried their hand at horror (season eight, Maureen Ponderosa’s Wedding Massacre), but this time, in their current eleventh season, the show takes it one step further, raising the stakes and risks deepening the insanity of Mac, Dennis, Frank, Charlie and Dee.
“Mac and Dennis move to the suburbs” is exactly that – characters Mac and Dennis move to the suburbs for the cheap rent, only to find that the city of Philadelphia had been providing a much needed buffer to each man’s mental cacophony.
Now, here’s where the homage comes in. Dennis is greeted by a mysterious, but annoying, neighbor who no one else seems to interact with or see: think bartender Lloyd. Mac makes his “famous” mac and cheese dinner for Dennis every night, the repetition testing Dennis’s limits: think Jack’s all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Then, empty store-bought boxes of Mac and Cheese cascade from the closet where Mac had been hiding his secret from Dennis: think rushing blood in the Overlook’s corridor.
With all that said, the main comparison from the show’s amazingly well done episode to The Shining lies in its ambiance. For example, if the show’s writers didn’t think to include how the tiniest of hums and beeps in the night could drive these men crazier, the audience would not have experienced the unstoppable rise in tension until the very last moment, when Dennis rushes to the front door with a dangerous poker in hand in a final fit of rage. The beauty of the show, and the series really, is that It’s Always Sunny always keeps it funny. Even as Mac and Dennis are on the verge of mental breakdowns, the audience chuckles along. Even as the show subtly pays tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest horror films, the characters continue to hold true to themselves, interweaving two completely separate genres of storytelling into twenty-two minutes of deliciousness for comedy and horror lovers alike.
“Mac and Dennis move to the suburbs” will go down as one of my favorite episodes from the series, and as a fan of The Shining, I can only say that it was a pleasure to move with the gang, albeit temporarily, to the suburbs.