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It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's characters entered primetime by failing to prove their lack of prejudice, and 13 years later, its most recent finale saw Mac coming out to his father via a show-stopping dance sequence. FX Networks' wonderfully vocal president John Landgraf was a big fan of that episode. In fact, the magnificence of that and other Season 13 installments boosted his confidence that the show could continue beyond the already ordered Season 14. He's what he told the press at TCA.
The fact that that was one of our shows that made year-end best lists in its 13th season – and that what Rob McElhenney did with that final, crazy, awesome dance sequence, and Mac’s final sort of public coming out as gay – that they still care about it that much, that they’re willing to work that hard at it, I think from my standpoint, they made some of the best episodes of Sunny that I’ve ever seen this year. And so I think that’s my answer to you, that as long as we can come to some kind of business terms that fit both needs, and as long as they can still make episodes of Sunny that are as good as any that were ever made, I think the show has a chance of continuing. And I’d say there is a good chance it might go past Season 14, which is the last one we’ve currently ordered.
To be sure, no deals have been made for Season 15, and no contracts have been signed. (Don't trust any contracts that have Frank's crabby handprints on them, either.) Still, if FX's big boss is keen on keeping It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia around on FXX for another two or three seasons, he's likely not going to find much aggressive opposition. Assuming the creators and writers willingly choose to return beyond Season 14, naturally.
It was all the way back in April of 2016 when FX gave It's Always Sunny the two-season renewal for 13 and 14. With the first of those seasons in the can, the FX comedy just needs to make it through one more in order to be tied with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as the longest running live-action TV comedy. In terms of seasons, since Ozzie's 435 episodes is a tad larger than Sunny's current tally of 144.
During his executive session at the Television Critics Association's 2019 winter press tour, John Landgraf talked about how FX built up most of its successful series by pulling a familiar TV concept apart and finding new ways to put it all back together.
The Shield, and Rescue Me, and Nip/Tuck, and The Americans; so much of what we’ve done over the years [in deconstructing] drama. But I’d say It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was the first successful comedy — the first successful deconstruction and reconstruction of the sitcom. And I’m just astonished. I could have never predicted that it would be the longest running live-action sitcom in television history. That’s just crazy, from my standpoint.
One of the biggest reasons that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was caught in a relative standstill, production-wise, is because its cast members' were finding a lot of success outside the FX comedy. While Kaitlin Olsen's time on The Mick didn't seem to derail much, Glenn Howerton's commitment to the NBC comedy A.P. Bio initially made it unclear if Sunny would even get Season 13 off the ground.
Everyone involved with the show knew exactly how much attention was being given to Glenn Howerton's availability to return for more episodes. As such, It's Always Sunny pulled off one of the best twists of its lifespan when bringing Dennis into the Season 13 premiere. Obviously a Dennis-looking sex doll was involved.
For John Landgraf, it seems the relatively simple reason for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's longevity and comedic success is the never-ending number of ways for Mac, Dee, Charlie, Frank and Dennis to shine a light on the woes of society by serving as the worst that humanity has to offer. (On a sliding scale at least.) Here's how he put it:
The thing that’s amazing about it is those five really hilarious degenerates, who are the center of it, are the most active schemers you have ever seen. They care so deeply about stuff that no one should care about, they go so far out of their way to achieve nothing that they drive the story and it’s allowed Rob and Charlie and Glenn, and all their colleagues to get into the panoply of four thorny political issues, for example, or social issues that they’ve taken on over these years are crazy, up to and including what they did in the 13th season.
The latest season started off with a "Make Paddy's Great Again" campaign, with Mindy Kaling guest-starring as a new schemer trying to bring about partisan chaos. There was a #MeToo-focused episode in which the Paddy's crew usurp an anti-harassment seminar. What appeared to be a Jimmy Buffet episode turned into a conversation about gender identity.
While Eagles football is only a hot-button issue to some, that Super Bowl episode was a loving tribute whose earnestness could be appreciated by anyone. Degenerates one and all, but ones capable of making a legitimate statement when the time calls for it.
For now, it's unclear when It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia will get back to rocking and rolling and test driving economy cars and attempting the Boggs Challenge. It's even more unclear if we're going to get more Buff Mac, or if he'll relapse and turn back into Fat Mac. There have been worst things on TV than either one of those, certainly.