It’s Always Sunny, “Mac and Charlie: White Trash”: We can beat this heat wave, Philly style.

I have spent years reading the TV review of others and always day-dreamed about how I would do it. Would I search for the unappreciated diamond in the rough shows and be that guy who tells you why the joke before the second commercial break in “Two and a Half Men” was actually not that bad? (SPOILER ALERT: It WAS that bad.) Would I ask the tough questions about a quality show that is almost universally praised (“Let me tell you why Don Draper is lamer than Christopher Reeve…”)? No matter what, I was going to bring something unique to the table. I’d critique this like a high school sophomore who connects with Catcher in the Rye – art was going to happen and it would be on my terms!

So, last night, I settled in on the couch, flipped on ‘It’s Always Sunny’ and took in “Mac and Charlie: White Trash”… an average to above average episode. It was my worst nightmare. Nothing terrible happened and I thoroughly enjoyed certain parts, but was not set up to use it as a launching pad to get creepy and up my own butt with what is missing in recent episodes and how the show lost some of the direction I loved. Sadly, I will have to table these thoughts for another day, but I’m happy to bring the first of possibly tens of reviews contributing to this site.

“Mac and Charlie: White Trash” was a nice, simple formula. Faced with a heat wave, Charlie and Mac (I’m not a slave to their title order) decided to hit the local members’ only pool club and go for a swim with a case of Durstin Beer in tow. I have no idea why I noted the brand name, but after reading this, I was really glad I did. AREN’T YOU GLAD I BROUGHT MY CRITICAL EYE TO THIS BLOG? Charlie also sported the same comfortable jorts Dennis introduced in last season’s “The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition.” After what seemed like a much more meandering and longer than normal intro, they were turned away from the pool and the credits rolled.

The boys then created a business plan (or just poster board with cool art taped on) to show Frank how they could renovate an abandoned pool from their childhood and make their own party. Mac decided to wear his classy gold chain and they appealed to Frank’s upper-class sensibilities. Sadly, they learn that Frank sees himself as “fringe class” and the plan dies a quick death. Once Dee and Dennis catch wind of the class debate, they decide that they are already born into class and head off to gain entry to the private pool.

From there, we get the usual, yet essential Sunny formula: Dennis and Dee have their dreams thrown back in their face and are humiliated while Charlie and Mac descend deeper into their own insanity/homosexual tendencies/whatever else is up with them. Dennis and Dee quickly strike out at the private pool and, after charges of racism fall on deaf ears when Dee incorporates the word monkey into her charges, tuck their tails and head to the public pool.

Why the plot exposition? Because I loved the public pool scenes. It was dirty, there were people everywhere, they questioned why so many people had sneakers on and then realized it was because the bottom of the pool was covered in broken glass. This is what works for me in the show – taking something simple, spinning it to the extreme and then committing to the joke beyond most others. It could have been a zany “hey look, pee in the pool” throw away, but they went the extra mile to think you were at a third world outpost where kids throw rocks at each other for fun. The xenophobic, high-class jerk in me appreciates that. I also enjoyed Frank embracing pool culture and playing a game where he chunked a greased watermelon in the pool and covered himself in butter. How can you not enjoy that he didn’t even question being clawed by a Filipino later on?

Then, we had Mac and Charlie’s quest to remodel the abandoned neighborhood pool themselves. Why was it abandoned, you ask? Because a kid died in it. This side of the story also had the standard storylines for these two characters, but it didn’t click as well. I feel like Charlie has been dialed down a bit this season and, while I admit being biased in my love for him, sacrificing him for more of the same Mac jokes leaves me disappointed. Charlie does something dumb and gets them trapped in the pool. Mac tries some kung fu moves and tries to back flip up the wall (without being able to do a back flip) and things look promising when Charlie finally says “all you know how to do is talk me into doing shit,” but then it just drops. In fact, we see several gags with potential that just die: Charlie’s reliance on burner phones, which race of delivery men would do the best job of rescuing them. They decide on a burley Italian pizza delivery guy over a small Asian delivery guy – and then the pizza guy turns out to be Asian. I really like to focus on the racism in my review? What does that say about me? Probably that I have a big penis. Anyway, they checked off a list of good jokes, but just never took them to the level or longer conclusion they consistently executed in previous seasons.

Then, it seemed like time was ticking and they had to wrap the episode up. Dennis, Dee and Frank try to get into the rich pool one more time and fail. Charlie and Mac do more stuff in the abandoned pool. By the time the groups reunite, Charlie and Mac have created a Jamie Nelson pool memorial and are debating how to pray. Mac opts for Catholic-style chants with the words jumbled while Charlie suddenly embraces voodoo. A voodoo Charlie extended out would have been great, and when he blurted out “what is that, there’s a lamb” while Mac recited “Lamb of God,” I laughed.

How did we get Voodoo Charlie and what is his back story? Is it in response to his role as a preacher in season one? It’s a funny concept, but it just seems like the latest in a line of jokes that will be touched on and shelved at the expense of whatever quick, shock value idea they will touch next. Tell me Charlie running around speaking in a Haitian accent doesn’t sound fantastic. If that was a show on CBS, it would be the #1 comedy on TV.

Back to the story, the gang finally left the pool and decided to just turn a fire hydrant like Frank did when he was a kid. Boom. Episode over. Here comes ‘The League.’

I don’t know if the writer’s just have too many good ideas or don’t have time to develop them, but it’s just hard to follow how a show that has managed to make gold out of such simple plots as starting a band, singing an acoustic version of “More Than Words,” running into an old high school friend or selling your own gas is hovering in a B/B- range. I don’t want to just be shocked or weirded out; I want my belly laughs back. I want more Charlie. I want more side characters being ridiculous. And, most importantly, I want the gang to spend more time in the bar. Good stuff happens when they hang out mainly in the bar and the apartments. It’s a scientific fact.

I will always love this show and was one of the original jerks lending DVD copies to friends and insisting they watch certain episodes. I once wore a Green Man outfit to a basketball game. I can reenact the entire scene where they write Day Man with my wife at the drop of a hat. I LOVE THIS SHOW and probably always will – just like folks never lose their love for ‘The Simpsons’ over the years. Am I asking too much or being unreasonable? If so, flame me in the comments. If not, I’ll be back next week and try to go heavier on the ha-ha and lighter on the exposition.

Other stuff:

  • “That girl just jumped in with her sneakers on.”
  • “These people all have sneakers on.”
  • “Stride, stride, stride…execute.”
  • “I do back flips every single day of my life.”
  • “Don’t undermine my prayer with voodoo.”
  • “I hope you trash bags die in the bottom of this pool like Jamie Nelson did.”
  • “Don’t bring Jamie Nelson into this.”
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