Last night FXX aired the season finale for the 13th season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And while the show is known to be insane and inappropriate, it’s one of the best and most beautiful episodes of television this year.
The 13th season finale of Always Sunny, entitled “Mac Finds His Pride,” centered on Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Frank (Danny Devito) working to help Mac find his place as a gay man. The gang is getting ready for the Pride parade with a float that looks like a bar. They want Mac, who came out of the closet to the gang in season 12, to dance on the float and give them points with “the media.” When Frank tries to convince Mac to dance on the float he explains that he doesn’t feel proud and hasn’t found his place as a gay man.
From there the episode focuses on Frank trying to help Mac find his place, and his pride. With only one or two moments outside of the two of them working on this goal, the episode is intensely centered in a way that is rare for Sunny. The episode also doesn’t joke about the struggle that Mac is going through. Every single joke throughout the episode is about Frank’s inability to understand Mac, and his misunderstanding of everything Mac is dealing with. The greatest of which is Mac’s inability to come out to his imprisoned father Luther (Gregory Scott Cummins).
Mac explains to Frank that he has an idea and a plan for how he wants to tell his father. It’s complicated plan and deals with him and a gorgeous woman, who is a sort of embodiment of God, dancing in the midst of a storm. It doesn’t make much sense when Mac tries to explain it, and so Frank tries to push Mac to just talk to his father.
From here on out we’re going to get into some SPOILERS, but no matter what you should watch this episode. When Mac isn’t able to tell his father about his true sexuality, he ends up falling apart again. Frank finds Mac at his apartment, having just had sex with a woman, and tells him that he needs to find his pride and be himself. Not for the gang and the parade float, but for himself. The two head back to the prison and get ready to present a show to the inmates, with Mac’s father sitting in the front row.
The piece begins with Mac standing on stage and telling his father he’s gay. The lights cut out and the sound of a storm picks up. The lights come back on and we see Mac on his knees with his head down as water falls on the stage like rain. A woman comes out and begins dancing with him in what becomes a beautiful 5 minute long ballet style contemporary dance number, all set to the instrumental Varúð by Sigur Rós’.
The scene is quite possibly the biggest departure ever from what is expected of this series. A show that has been lovingly referred to as “Seinfeld on crack,” that is one of the edgiest and most outlandish comedies on air. This episode and its final five minute ballet, is hauntingly beautiful and becomes the type of episode that series’ not only get awards for, but are usually remembered long after a series has ended.
Sunny probably won’t keep to the somber and serious tones of this episode or its final scenes. And I honestly don’t care if it does. What I do care about is the fact that a show in it’s 13th season decided to take the weight of their notoriety and the power of being a successful show in its 13th season, and use their finale to create a beautiful piece of art. That they said, lets tell this story the way it’s meant to be told, and not just make this character and his struggles a punchline. Let’s make it real, and make it important. That is the sign of a good show, made by good people. And while the characters of this show are often the worst people imaginable, it’s clear that the artists behind the show are much better than their characters.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs on FXX, and can be streamed on the FX+ app. You can also catch the first 12 seasons currently streaming on Hulu.