It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S11E04 Recap: 'Dee Makes A Smut Film'

"When is stuff art?"

Of all the difficult questions It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia has attempted to tackle over the years, that might be one of the toughest. Art in and of itself as a concept is subjective, abstract, yet people pay millions if not billions for it every year. Art is taught in school as an objective thing. Yet people have also been ostracized, chastised for it as well.

So what stuff is art in the world of IASIP? In the case of this episode, it ranges from smut films, to Charlie's doodles, to an air conditioner, to depictions of the Holocaust. In almost every one of these cases, it comes from a place of pain, of despair. Which seems right up The Gang's alley, as they try to figure it out in this week's episode, "Dee Makes A Smut Film".

The episode sees Dee finally make her film debut, as an extra in a Skinemax flick starring the real Richard Grieco of 21 Jump Street fame. The Gang obviously makes fun of her for it, but she's still proud of it, because it's her art. Mac's view on that is fairly cynical, as he argued that you can bullshit anything into being called art, namely Charlie's random doodles. He takes Charlie, who's suddenly taken with the Richard Grieco style, to an art gallery, but the owner wants nothing to do with it, because she sees right through Mac.

All the while, Frank, who was also out on this sojourn, is actually taken with a piece of art, as he looks into it and suddenly understands the Holocaust maybe, which is an interesting development that unfortunately isn't developed any further.

Meanwhile, Dennis decides that he can capitalize on this whole 50 Shades of Grey smut craze by getting his erotic memoirs produced into a film. He runs into a roadblock when he promises the film is being made by a woman, so he asks Dee to direct it, and she gets Richard Grieco to be in it. The revelation that comes out of their filming is that Dennis may have been raped in high school by the librarian who looked like Rick Moranis.

The episode comes together when Mac puts together an art showing for Charlie's drawings, which he makes based on Rickety Cricket's perverse life. But the art gallery lady still wants nothing to do with it. What's more, The Gang finds out that she's equally full of shit, just like the rest of them, as her parents pay her rent at the art gallery and she seemingly screwed Frank over on the painting he liked.

As the credits roll to Dennis insisting that his sexual encounter with the raggedy librarian, I'm left wondering what the point of this episode was. Like the art it was trying to explain, maybe it was more abstract. Maybe we're meant to make our own interpretations of it. But that's never really bee IASIP. It's always been about schemes and assholery, yet this particular episode seems more loosely structured with no real punchline. It's like they thought it would be good to tackle the art subject and get Richard Grieco for a guest spot, and didn't really know where to go with it after that.

Even Grieco, who's pretty funny and a good sport in both of the scenes in which he appears, doesn't really have a payoff for his arc. He's just there, acting in porn, saying he eats chalk as tums, and then we never see him again. The episode makes the point about Dennis being statutory raped, and then it doesn't really go anywhere, even though the show had the opportunity to make a statement, like they did last week when they mocked the weird, skeezy sex stuff that happened in 80s ski movies. Same with Charlie's art. I feel like it would have been really funny if it actually wound up being valuable or well-received. Instead it's just the same old Charlie's-an-idiot jokes.

There is a decent chunk of funny in here though. I particularly blurted out laughing at the reveal of Frank's eccentric art connoisseur character, Ango Gablogian, which, combined with his ridiculous wig, might be an all-time IASIP alter ego. It just felt like it could have been more than a couple of jokes, and it's especially a shame since it was the first episode of the season that wasn't a sequel or a spoof to anything.

In the grand scheme of Sunny, this episode just sort of blends in, and for that, it gets 7.5 symmetrical vistas out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Seriously, it's such a great Sunny move to dig Richard Grieco out of whatever hole he's been staying with. But you really do appreciate that he'd be willing to make fun of himself the way he did in this episode, so good on him. Especially considering how straight he plays it, right down the chalk and seaweed breaks.
  • Frank's alter ego power rankings go 2) Ango Gablogian, 1) Dr. Mantis Toboggan
  • This show has come really far from "the implication" to its takes on rape and sexism, hasn't it?
  • "Are we saying hella now? Cause I like it."
  • "Charlie, don't eat chalk."
  • "He's an illiterate janitor who's mother tried to abort him."
  • "'Silence!' he said. 'A woman's mouth is not for the exiting of words, but for the entrance of a man's... dick.'"
  • "I need you to draw something profound, something deep. But also childish and stupid to prove my point."
  • "And I want to feel a little bit of emotion coming from your tits."