Unless you spend a lot of time watching semi-obscure cable channels or take an active interest in US comedy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia could easily have passed you by. If, however, you're a fan of the similarly neglected likes of Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Eastbound and Down and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Always Sunny could well be your new favourite show.
It follows the misadventures of group of amoral, directionless bar owning friends in blue collar Philly; three dudes: Dennis, Mac and Charlie, (former semi-struggling actors Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day, who also write the show) and their female compatriot `Sweet' Dee, (Kaitlin Olson, who played Cheryl's sister Becky in Curb). From season two they are joined by Dennis and Dee's estranged father Frank, played with gusto by the magnificent Danny Devito.
Episodes traditionally focus on a pop culture or political phenomenon - from abortion to wrestling, Extreme Home Makeover to the global financial crisis; and the gang's attempts to exploit said phenomenon for their own personal gain. The format is well illustrated by the Season Four episode `The Nightman Cometh' , where Charlie announces he has written a musical.
Charlie: I wrote a musical. It's pretty damn good, OK? I wanna put it on.
Mac: Right, what's your angle?
Charlie: I don't have one.
Dee: Yeah, whose--whose face are we shoving this musical in?
Charlie: You don't shove a musical in someone's face. What are you talking about?
Mac: Right, but who versus? Who are we doing it versus?
Other reviews of the show on Amazon make it sound pretty stupid and offensive. I would agree that the show is not for the easily offended, and when it is stupid it is gleefully, unashamedly stupid. However, I can't think of many other sitcoms that would base an entire episode on a critique of the Israel-Palestine situation, or the welfare system, or North Korean nuclear disarmament. The skill of the show is can make these subjects as outrageously funny as it's rampant arguing and violence. It's this combination of pop culture trashing, violence, satire and controversy that makes Always Sunny the closest thing to a `punk' sitcom since The Young Ones. I would also argue that there's a fairly strong liberal morality underscoring the writing; most of the issues are sensitively presented, it's the gang's selfishness and solipsism that is being ridiculed.