Any other show would bungle an episode like “The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot”. But for It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, it’s exactly what we needed to see. Thirteen seasons in, a show unabashedly borrowing a concept from an earlier popular episode, replacing the cast with female side characters for the sake of making some meta commentary points and ending with everyone puking and shitting their pants would probably signal its death knell. But here’s, it’s unironically a sign that IASIP hasn’t lost a step.
The episode has Sweet Dee gathering all of the women she knows and can tolerate on a flight headed for the women’s march. But they’re not on it to celebrate their womanhood or to protest the current administration, they’re there because Dee is constantly trying to figure out how to stick it to the guys, and her latest scheme involves having one of the girls beat Wade Boggs’ record of drinking 71 beers on a flight to Los Angeles before winning the big game the next day. Only Dee doesn’t actually want “the women” to beat the record, she wants to beat the record and all the other women herself, because she’s a narcissistic misanthrope with a warped sense of feminism, and it says a lot about her that the only women she can harangue are two of her friends’ moms, The Waitress and Artemis (and, as we find out later, Snail, who is hiding and drinking quietly on her own in first class). Also she’s a bird.
It’s kind of a perfect setup. The show does well when re-exploring its own conceits, as this isn’t the first time its rebooted an episode. It also does well when it sets Dee up against everyone, because she’s a frustrated failure and she only gets funnier when her back is up against the wall (this episode features a lot of “goddamnits”). And it’s nice to see some recurring characters get their time to shine, as each of the four ladies have several great moments in this episode.
In a weird way, this episode does a lot to show that there is a version of IASIP that can survive without all of its main characters. While Frank, Charlie and Mac all sneak in cameos (The Waiter is also there, although who are we to remember every man we’ve seen fall into a plate of spaghetti), this is the first episode of the season with no sign of Dennis. While he still looms over the show (there is a lot of talk about his stay in North Dakota and, in fact, Dee winds up there herself, which may play in to a future reveal about Dennis’s kid there), this episode works without the classic Gang chemistry, and it works because Kaitlyn Olson is a great actress who has spent fifteen years honing what kind of character Sweet Dee actually is. And, as I said, she doesn’t hog the screen either.
The meta-commentary about feminism and lazy media attempts at representation were pretty spot-on as well, continuing the trend started in last week’s episode and that clearly seems to be a priority this season, with a lot more women working on the show behind the scenes and a concerted effort to make the show more relevant and topical. Without, of course, losing any of its charm, as suggested by the episode’s crux, where Artemis’ spiked Goop-style products induce mass vomiting and diarrhea amongst the women on the flight.
There’s little more you can hope for as a creative person than to see your meta-episode about lazy, diversity-induced spinoffs actually wind up being funny and memorable. And there are plenty of moments in this Boss Hogg sequel that work. “The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot” gets 8 pussies on the track out of 10.
Here are some of the best lines from “The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot”:
- Goddamnit Count: 7
- A couple of great sight gags: Drunk Dee imagining Martina Navratilova all wrong and then picturing Boss Hogg instead of Wade Boggs, Charlie and Mac repeatedly yelling that Dee’s a bird before their facetime cuts out.
- Mrs Kelly: “I didn’t know it was an all female flight. That feels dangerous.”
- Artemis/Dee: “I don’t get it. You already did this. Shouldn’t we do our own thing? Why are we copying the guys?” “That’s the whole point. It’s the exact same thing, but with women. So it’s a new idea.”
- Mrs. Mac: “What kind of a plane is this? How come the coloreds are allowed to sit with the whites and we’re way back here?”
- Dee: “Wow, I’ve never heard you talk so much. Truly awful.”
- Dee/Waitress: “What’s your secret?” “I’m an alcoholic.”
- Artemis/Mrs. Mac: “Let’s at least beat a female sports star.” “Secretariat?”
- Dee, to The Waiter: “That’s great, you’re a soyboy beta cuck.”
- Mrs. Kelly: “Oh dear, watching a woman do math scares me!”
- Frank: “In every reboot you gotta have someone from the original to make a cameo.”
- Artemis: “She’s gone full Judy Garland, isn’t it glorious?”
- The Waitress: “I had sex in the bathroom with Frank and now I’m in a shame spiral. I’m going to drink my self to death.”
- Martina Navratilova: “Now you’re imagining me as Lori Petty in A League of Their Own.”