It's pretty clear that FXX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has staying power. The raunchy comedy began its 12th season on Wednesday, an impressive feat for a sitcom, let alone one as unconventional as Always Sunny. Last April, the show was renewed for both a 13th and 14th season, so the show isn't going anywhere anytime soon and the world is a better place because of it.
The anti-PC protagonists of Always Sunny allow the show's writers to mine laughs from terrible people doing terrible things. Yet underneath all the grime and crudeness, the show always finds unique ways to tackle important social issues. The 12th season premiere was no different. With the episode title "The Gang Turns Black" it's easy to imagine how horribly wrong this could have gone. But the all-white gang pulled it off with a bizarre musical episode that makes a powerful statement on race relations and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
In the episode, a freak electrical storm turns Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie and Frank into black people. The episode raises questions about the state of race relations, and uses each character's biases and in Frank's case old-fashioned racism to demonstrate the various ways white Americans deny that racism actually exists. It all comes to a head at the end of the episode when, spoilers, the cops show up and shoot Charlie just because he was holding a toy train.
The episode makes light of movements like #BlackLivesMatter but also reminds us of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Philandro Castile, and Alton Sterling. That's something we need in more of in our television.
Somehow a show about racially insensitive assholes communicated a nuanced and comedic look at the fractured way race is viewed in America. It doesn't pull its punches either, everything is presented with a bleak look at social issues gone wrong.
2016 was a tough year for minorities in America. Racially motivated violence is a problem and it is only getting worse under President Donald Trump. There's an epidemic of violence against black people in America and Sunny knows it. That's why the show's depraved antiheroes are important.
We never thought we'd say it but It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is paving the way for how to deal with social issues leading into 2017.