It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S11E03 Recap: 'Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy'

Sometimes with It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the idea for an episode is worth more than the end result. And in the case of "Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy", the idea is pretty golden. Mac and Charlie are worried about their moms, so they install hidden cameras in their house in order to monitor them. Dennis, in an unsurprisingly voyeuristic move, takes to watching the footage and even adds music and a laugh track, which enthralls The Gang as they enjoy watching this multi-camera sitcom that they've accidentally created.

It's a great idea that has the basics of some sort of commentary about the state of the TV industry, but unfortunately i don't think it really lands. Not that there's anything wrong with the episode, or that there aren't some great gags, it just feels too tame and honestly kind of pointless. The idea described above is pretty much all that happens in the episode, when you boil it down, other than the rest of The Gang inserting themselves into the picture one way or another, and this vague idea everyone has about this somehow turning into a real TV show. Charlie muses about how he wants his mom to be a star, Mac tries to coach his mom into not being completely deplorable. Even so, it doesn't feel like there's that much there.

In fact, I would almost venture to say that this would work a lot better as a season 3 or season 4 episode of IASIP, back when the show was young and when it was trying to find its place in the television landscape. Commenting on the state of TV back then would have been pretty timely. Now, the multicam sitcom isn't as prevalent or well-regarded. More importantly, we're living in a world where IASIP has firmly ensnared its place in the landscape that it's trying to satirize. It's a show that's over a decade old, that's seen its fair share of imitators and successors. It's simply a show that exists, and does whatever the hell it wants, usually to rousing comedic effect. So what exactly would it have to say in an episode lampooning this kind of television? No less in a world where their meta-TV commentary already peaked a few seasons ago with "The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award".

The honest answer is that there isn't really a point to any of this. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with that, since at its core IASIP is kind of devoid of a true premise. It's a show about a group of sociopaths calmly explaining the crazy shit they do because they're bored. In that context, filming their moms in an elaborate attempt to either check up on them or prove to each other who's mom is best makes sense. As does Dennis volunteering to direct the footage (since we know he's an avid collector of, shall we say, amateur filmmaking), or Dee inserting herself into the show and being mostly unfunny, or Frank inserting himself literally into Charlie's mom.

What happens in the episode makes sense, it's even fairly well-structured, and that probably isn't a mistake for an episode that's making fun of procedural comedy. That's the joke they're likely trying to get across, that their usual schtick isn't any better than any multi-cam sitcom. It just doesn't really pan out or come together all that well. Especially coming off two particularly great and relatively unique episodes to start of the season last week and with the insane, arguably perfect season premiere. This is a return to The Gang just doing random things and going about the day, and while elements of it are welcome, it doesn't match up to what we've already seen this season.

With that in mind, and the fact that this episode still had some great moments and lines, "Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy" gets a 7 episode sex arc out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Goddamnit Count: 1
  • Maybe if the scenes with The Gang at the bar had a laugh track and music, then I would know when to laugh and what to feel and I would have liked it better?
  • And of course the episode ends with Dee shitting her pants just in case you thought, 11 seasons in, this show would suddenly become less crass or relatable.
  • Anyone else catch Frank at the beginning of the episode flipping channels on a blank TV?
  • "Your mom stopped calling you the day the phone was invented."
  • "They're not women, they're old!" "What happens to a man?" "A man lives and then dies. Why are we having this argument?"
  • "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" "We could also get some soup!"
  • Dennis asks for Charlie's thoughts: "Now I'm thinking about my mom starring in a show and I like it. Now I'm thinking about minotaurs. Now I'm thinking about a hoagie sandwich. Now I'm thinking about a glass of water to go with my chips. How many of my thoughts do you need?
  • "I love all the letter flying around on the screen, those are interesting."