It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been the recipient of much praise on my part for the changes made over the course of the season, changes necessary following the (very temporary) departure of Glenn Howerton and the increasingly busy schedules of all its stars/creators. Instead of sunsetting a show that clearly still has a ton of life left in it, The Gang used it as an opportunity to inject it with new life behind the scenes, stacking its writers’ room and director’s chair with a bunch of new talented people, many of whom are women, such as Megan Ganz, one of TV’s best writers.
The result has been a lot of meta commentary about equality, the patriarchy, trump-era politics, etc., all culminating in last week’s brilliant, raucous episode, in which The Gang attends a sexual harassment seminar (from which, of course, they learn nothing, as it turns out it was all orchestrated by Dennis in an attempt to gain a leg up in the group’s confusing political structure). And that’s great. But that’s a high concept and it really isn’t a sustainable format for this show. Eventually, The Gang has to wrap up all the sexual harassment seminars and Wade Boggs flights and whatever else have you and return to their normal array of despicable hijinx.
Luckily, that’s exactly what happens in “The Gang Gets New Wheels”, a hilarious return to form for the more standard style of IASIP episode and the second straight uproarious, perfectly lecherous episode of the show, especially in its final act.
The episode sees Dennis looking for a new car after he finds his Range Rover suffering the effects of being left on the streets of Philadelphia for an extended period of time. When Frank opts to get the new 2018 model for himself instead of financing Dennis’ schemes as he usually does, he’s forced to get a Prius, a more economical car, which leads him to making what he deems to be economical choices with his lifestyle, such as playing fantasy football. While Dennis is losing his Golden God powers, they wind up transferred to Dee, who is drying around in Frank’s new car while he gets his license renewed. She Gangs up with a couple of other Range Rover housewives, who eventually slight Dee to the point where she resolves to cuck one of them. Meanwhile, Charlie and Mac revisit their inner child by buying a couple of bikes, only to find themselves in trouble with a gang of young bullies, one of whom happens to be the kid of their own childhood bully (played by Tyler Labine).
A lot of that is setup, and it plays off that way in the episode, but it’s utterly necessary for the Curb Your Enthusiasm way it winds up weaving together in the final act. You see, Dee thinks she’s having sex with her foil’s young husband, when in fact it’s her teenage son, whom Frank promised he would get laid. Charlie and Mac decide to, in their words, take back their identities and confront their antagonists, it just so happens that this means beating the shit out of a bunch of kids in a scene as funny and unexpected as when Mac grabs Dee by the pussy last week. As for Dennis, he gets lucky when he finds that his new economical buddy owns a ’93 Range Rover, which he acquires for a modest sum. On his peaceful way home, listening to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”, he finds the rest of the Gang running from their respective problems (aka the cops), and picks them up, declaring everything to be fine now that they’re back in the Rover.
It’s no surprise that the episode ends with everything returning to normal (despite the various manhunts likely being staged for most of them) but it plays so beautifully over the course of the episode. Every string they lay pays off. It’s a ridiculous episode that shouldn’t make sense when you think about it, but it’s also the product of a show that’s spent 13 years building that seasoning, ensuring that they can pull of a brazenly ridiculous, offensive episode such as this with effortless precision. As much as I love how meta this season has been so far, to see a return to the classic style of Gang hijinx and to see it be as good as the show’s always been is incredibly impressive and refreshing.
“The Gang Gets New Wheels” will compete with the best episodes in recent seasons, and it gets 9.5 bowls of chili out of 10.
The Best Lines from “The Gang Gets New Wheels”:.
- Goddamnit count: I only counted 1 this week!
- Frank license picture is clearly an old still from Danny DeVito’s Taxi days, which is amazing.
- Nothing makes me happier than the fact that they used “On Your Bike” as the song choice for when Mac and Charlie are riding their new bikes.
- Mac: “Radical!”
- Mac: “Well, I am gya, but he’s not my boyfriend. I could do much better than him.”
- Charlie: “Don’t push your agenda on them, Mac!”
- Dee: “Brenda, you gotta upgrade you stupid bitch. Don’t be a dumb idiot.”
- Frank: “What you wanna do is you lurch into the intersection. It’s kinda like a game of chicken. You lurch and then you lurch some more and whoever doesn’t flinch gets to go first.”
- Frank: “You can’t be PC on the road and expect to live. You will die. If you go to a four-way stop and you think the rules of the road are going to apply to an 80-year-old Asian woman, you’re going to get blasted.”
- Dennis/John: “You got a good economy face on you too.” “What?”
- Dennis: “It always seemed foolish to me before, but this economy car is starting to make me think I can enjoy economy activities.”
- Charlie: “I got a Chuck Knoblock, that’s like pre-yips, man!”
- Dee/Nail Lady: “You probably don’t speak English.” “I speak English, it’s just not funny.”
- Dee: “Oh Karen, you bitch. You dumb idiot. You stupid savage. You’re not the alpha you crusty-ass fool. Oh, I’m gonna cuck you so hard. Your boy-toy, he’s mine! I will destroy you! I am a 2018 Range Rover woman! I am a Golden Goddess! Who are you? Idiot! Savage! Idiot!”
- Dennis: “I don’t suck. Dude, I’ll suck YOU.”
- Dennis on chili: “It makes me fart, and I don’t wanna fart right now. My sister farts a lot.”
- Dennis: “The Minnesota Twins, you know what I’m saying?”
- Mac/Charlie: “Are you drinking the Fight Milk?” “It makes me so sick.”
- Tyler Labine: “What are you gonna do about it?”
- Dee: “I am a Golden Goddess! You idiot! Savage! Idiot! And I banged your man!”
- Dennis: “Clutch!”
- Dennis: “Begone from me you soyboy beta cuck, the transaction is complete!”
- Frank/Dee: “We almost got t-boned by an Asian. It was totally my fault, she did everything by the book, very surprising. Also Dee banged a kid.” “No, I was trying to cuck a bitch!”