These 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' Episodes Almost Got The Show Canceled – TheThings

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‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’ doesn’t shy away from controversy.
In an era of cancel culture, TV is experiencing a rude awakening as more shows are called out for being politically incorrect. But of the series still airing, the comedy cult classic, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia has managed to hold strong. The assortment of incredibly well-written episodes proves the show's strength. But the durability of It’s Always Sunny might come as a surprise considering the shenanigans of 'the gang' become more outrageous with every passing episode. Whether it’s making jokes about casual racism, scenes of exhuming bodies or blackfacing characters, the truth about the behind-the-scenes is that the cast of Always Sunny hasn't shied away from controversy.
This isn’t to say, though, that the show has remained unscathed by fierce criticism. Over the years, several episodes have been canceled at the threat of otherwise pulling the plug on the show. We’re running through the episodes that crossed the line and nearly ended It’s Always Sunny for good.
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The series has garnered a lot of the wrong attention for its repeated scenes of yellow facing, with one particular episode sparking masses of outrage. The side plot of this episode sees the series' female lead, Dee (Kaitlin Olson) attempting to produce viral videos for the pub. Dee's video feature a range of offensive stereotypes from a drunken Irishwoman to a buck-toothed Asian named “Taiwan Tammy", with their offensive portrayals played out with prosthetics, wigs, and fake accents – triggered the shows characters Charlie (Charlie Day) to remark, "This is so racist."
This character also lead to both Hulu and Netflix U.K. removing this episode from their platforms in July 2020. However, the episode received renewed attention when it unexpectedly reappeared on Hulu again.
This episode saw Mac (Rob McElhenney) wear blackface while impersonating actor Danny Glover as Murtaugh in Paddy's staging of "Lethal Weapon 5." Paul Walter Hauser also made an appearance, donning blackface to play a high schooler in their version of the movie while Frank (Danny DeVito) wore a braided wig to portray a Native American figure.
The removal of this episode is worth mentioning since it sparked a wider discussion on whether Netflix was doing enough to counter the offensive content it was streaming. While the gang’s use of blackface needs to be tackled, some argued that censoring certain 'Sunny' episodes was only a token action taken by Hulu and Netflix, since countless other racist, sexist, and offensive episodes are still available to stream.
Despite there already being several canceled episodes before season 14, the writers couldn't help resurrecting some of their most controversial characters. Dee Day mirrors the concept of a previous episode called Mac Day, which introduces the gang's tradition of devoting a day to a particular gang member. At Dee's request, on her special day, Frank dons brownface to reprise his role of Martina Martinez while Mac uses yellowface to portray an Asian character.
Dee Day was removed from season 14's DVD – the episode can now only be viewed legally via a Google purchase. Despite Always Sunny's continuing mainstay on Netflix, this omission has left fans wondering more recently if there is growing disconcertment about the show's persistently outrageous and offensive comedic style.
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Back in season 6, the gang recreates another cult classic film franchise, Lethal Weapon. The original Lethal Weapon stars Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh but rather than finding black actors, the gang take up offensive guises, with Rob McElhenney wearing blackface as Mac to play out Roger Murtaugh.
But, in season 15, episode 2, It's Always Sunny took a meta approach to address the outraged responses circulating in the outside world. Within the show, the gang recognizes the fault in their ways and decides to address their political incorrectness by making another film, Lethal Weapon 7. Mac acknowledges his mistake in performing as a black man while Dennis and Charlie remind both Dee and Mac that they blackfaced as the Murtaughs back in season 6, too. In a further attempt to resolve the issue, the gang decide to hire a local Black actor to play the lead of Lethal Weapon 7.
The gang concocts countless attempts to exact revenge against one another following minor incidents. One of the darkest revenge plots was generated by Frank, after Dennis and Dee accuse him of going mad.
Frank starts by digging up Dennis and Dee’s deceased mother’s dog. Only finding a box only containing cash, he tells them the idea into their heads that their mother isn’t really dead, forcing the pair to exhume their own mother to disprove Frank's lies. Obviously, they make the disturbing discovery of their mother's dead body.
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Speaking at an FX Network Press event, the show's creator Rob McElhenney addressed the blackface controversy the show had become entrenched in. He admitted that his jokes sometimes went too far, explaining: “I find that my barometer is off for what’s appropriate sometimes in situations" because "we've spent 15 years making a show about the worst people on the planet, and because it’s satire, we lean so heavily into this idea".
While he also acknowledged that the show's humor is "right on the razor’s edge" he continued on to say, "that's the only way that satire works. And then I go and do something else, and I may be pitching something, and then I realize, like, oh, it’s wholly inappropriate for the show… because these are supposed to be real human beings.”
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Holly is a BA English graduate with a background in writing celebrity, entertainment and wellbeing articles for digital magazines. She has contributed to Glitter Magazine’s news platform and was a contributing blog content writer for VOL.UP.2 Magazine. Holly is pursuing a full-time editorial career in celebrity and entertainment reporting.


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