It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is batting 3/3 this season, delivering another great episode last night with “Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy“. We haven’t seen much of Mac and Charlie’s moms in a while, and they’re quite the deranged duo. This week, the gang turns Mac and Charlie’s moms into a sitcom. In typical It’s Always Sunny fashion, the creators also make fun of traditional situation comedies and their tropes. There are also fart jokes, so It’s Always Sunny hasn’t gone completely cerebral on us.
Charlie gets the above “letter” from his mom. He’s convinced that Mac’s mom has taken her hostage in her own home, though Mac disagrees. Dennis gets a brilliant idea: use the surveillance system he has sitting in storage to spy on their moms! After all, he’s living with Dee and can’t use the cameras for their intended purpose (creepy sex tapes), so why not watch Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Mac hash it out?
Dee argues that they shouldn’t spy on unsuspecting women, but the guys disagree. “They’re not women, they’re old,” Frank explains, and that’s the end of the argument. Any further attempt by Dee to correct them ends in the guys berating her. Poor Dee is often the only voice of reason, but she’s usually ignored because of her gender. It’s a great social commentary that has only further developed each season. (Dee’s greatest moment? Convincing the gang that one of them impregnated her way back in season 6.)
After installing the spy cameras in various objects (a globe, a teddy bear, etc.), the guys set them up around their mom’s apartment. They then settle in to watch Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Mac, eating Let’s potato chips and commenting on the moms. (The Let’s chips are perhaps a call-out to other shows, as the fictional brand has been featured in quite a few comedies.)
It doesn’t take long for Mrs. Kelly to act out, threatening to bash Mrs. Mac’s brains in with a hammer. Charlie defends her, saying that it’s like “Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners“. He explains that Kramden always said he was going to beat his wife, but never did. The show almost lets the characters realize how wrong that is, but they quickly return to thinking violence is funny.
To test whether or not the moment was funny or scary, Dennis adds in a laugh track. The gang all decide that the laugh track makes it hilarious. It’s a not-so-subtle jab at sitcoms and laugh tracks, and Mac even notes that “the laugh track lets me know it’s okay to laugh.” As the antics of Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Mac escalate, Dennis compares them to Abbott and Costello and Tom and Jerry.
Dee decides that it needs to be a Three Stooges kinda show and heads over to the house. She tries to pull a gag with getting her head stuck in the railing. This fails miserably because she actually does her get head stuck and then proceeds to be stuck there for the rest of the episode. Everyone either ignores her or tells her they can’t help for one reason or another. The best of these is Mrs. Kelly, who tells Dee, “I don’t do well in emergencies, and besides, I have to answer the door.”
To make things worse, Dennis begins adding fart noises and zooming in on Dee’s rear-end, much to Charlie and Mac’s delight. Then, a guest shows up that ruins things for everyone.
That’s right, Charlie’s pedophile Uncle Jack. He shows up at Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Mac’s to retrieve something, or as he puts it, he’s “just stopping by to pick up that hard-drive I accidentally left stuck under the floorboards.”
Just gonna let that one sink in.
Around this time, Frank comes into the office and sees the guys watching what Dennis has turned into “Old Lady House”. He’s even made a title sequence and everything. Frank decides that he’s going to go have sex with Charlie’s mom and make himself a character in the show. Charlie freaks out and asks Dennis if Mac put a camera in his mom’s room. Dennis replies “no, but I did.” That’s all it takes, and Charlie heads straight to their house to stop Frank from having sex with his mom.
When Charlie arrives, he catches his Uncle Jack, dressed in a boy scout uniform, digging around in the attic. He ignores this and bursts into his mother’s room, interrupting Frank and Mrs. Kelly. After kicking Frank out, Charlie confronts his mother about the letter she sent. She informs him that it was a letter that she missed him and thought he was dead. Just as Charlie begins to have a revelation about his mother (whom he constantly ignores), Dee passes out and falls down, breaking the railing in the process. Dennis adds a fart noise, just for kicks.
After watching Dennis’ completed “Old Lady House” episode, the gang is excited to see more. Dennis informs them that there won’t be any more “Old Lady House” because he “just can’t enjoy it when the people being filmed know they’re being filmed.” That’s right, we’ve got a pedophile talking about where he keeps his kiddie porn and a rapist talking about enjoying watching unsuspecting people being filmed, all in one episode. We also get this amazing Danny Devito mug, right before he’s about to take Charlie’s mom upstairs:
It’s Always Sunny isn’t like any other show on TV. In part that’s what they’re riffing on here. It’s Always Sunny doesn’t need a laugh track or zooms or fart noises to get laughs. They recognize that sometimes the jokes are uncomfortable, and you don’t know when to laugh (or if it’s even socially acceptable to). The episode veers from insanely dark to fart jokes and back again in the blink of an eye. To that degree, there’s something meta about this episode without rubbing the audience’s face in it, too. It’s a great episode in what’s already been a great season so far.
- When Frank shows up, Jack shoves his hands behind his back and tells Frank: “I didn’t know Bonnie was having company I woulda put my hands on.” Frank has giant rubber glove “hands” that he wears because he believes his hands are too small. It’s really, really weird. It’s also freaking hilarious.
- Charlie doesn’t understand the title sequence; he just tells Dennis that he “loves the letters flying around.”
- Dee poops her pants. It’s so perfectly Dee and expected, but it’s a great endcap to the episode.