It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S11E05 Recap: 'Mac & Dennis Move To The Suburbs'
So far, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's eleventh season has felt like a bit of an experiment. It started with a sequel episode and followed that up with a ten-year-old callback and an 80s ski movie spoof. Last week's episode was the first and closest thing to a "normal" episode of Sunny, and it honestly still felt like it was lacking, built around a one-note joke and a Richard Grieco cameo. While I've enjoyed the show, as I always do, something had felt like it hadn't yet come together about this season, which is a shame, considering the incredible upwards streak the show has been on for a few years now.
Luckily, it seems as if this week's episode, "Mac & Dennis Move To The Suburbs" has bucked that trend in a way that only IASIP could have. And interestingly, it accomplished that by doing something similar to last season's classic, "Charlie Work", by drilling down on just a couple of characters, giving them their own story, in this case going to extreme lengths of depravity with it. And just like Charlie Work, the real appeal of this episode is in how relatable it surprisingly winds up being.
"Suburbs" opens with Dee scolding Mac and Dennis for still living in her tiny apartment. It's been a long time since they moved in with her when they burned down their apartment, and push has finally come to shove. Their solution for finding a cheap, convenient place to live is the suburbs, where they buy a house. Frank doesn't think they can make it, since they're, in his words, city scum, so he makes them a bet. If they can last a month in the suburbs, he'll pay their rent for a year. If not, they have to sleep together in the same bed with an old man, because of course Frank would make that bet.
Mac and Dennis scoff at the idea at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that the episode is going to end with an old (black) man sleeping at the foot of their bed. At first it's subtle. Mac and Dennis both have trouble sleeping thanks to noises they're not used to, accentuated by the quietness of the suburbs. Dennis also flinches at Mac's joke about his "Mac's Famous Mac and Cheese", even though, as we later find out, it's just KD. And it only continues from there. In several scenes, Dennis experiences what we all know to be road rage, and much like us, he comes up with some unique and vile ways to describe and potentially murder people. Mac's not having a much better time attempting to cook, and clean, and repair a house, since obviously he didn't go to school for that (which of course doesn't stop Dennis from forcing him into that role, as he deals with traffic every day).
It's clear to even Mac and Dennis that they're not going to make it, so they invite The Gang over for dinner to feel Frank out. They didn't bank on him bringing the Old Man with them, and Dee didn't bank on them flaking, so she takes some side action, meaning we'll be seeing her in that bed with the old man at the end of the episode as well.
Things get worse and worse, to the point where Mac maybe kills a dog and feeds it to Dennis, and Dennis fantasizes getting naked in his front lawn and threatening his neighbor who can only ever talk about how hot it is. Still, they make it to day 30, but when they realize that Frank's check is only for rent at that house, they bite the bullet, give up and decide to sleep in a bed with an Old Man and Dee for a year.
There are a lot of subtle things about the episode that make it work so well. The plot is simple enough that it allows us to spend a lot of time with both Mac and Dennis, and as it turns out, mostly only on Mac and Dennis, to see what makes them tick. It's especially a good one for Dennis, who both relates to us with hating his neighbor's banter and hating driving, and simultaneously feels completely inaccessible and sociopathic when he has that insane daydream. If you're not convinced yet that this series is going to end with Dennis turning into Hannibal Lecter, then I don't know what to tell you at this point.
"Mac and Dennis Move To The Suburbs" is reminiscent in a certain sense to The Shining. It takes cues from the horror film/novel, assigns the Nicholson and Duvall roles perfectly to Dennis and Mac, and pretty much makes you think one of them will go after the other with an ax by the end. But it's also very much a classic episode of Sunny, starting with a simple, silly premise and escalating beyond the point you could have ever imagined it reaching. And what's especially crazy about it is that they totally telegraph what the payoff will be, but that doesn't make it any less satisfying. That's why we're giving it 9.5 old black men out of 10.
Notes & Quotes:
- Goddamnit count: 6 (sorry, I forgot to do this for the first four episodes, I'll try and go back before the season finale.)
- IASIP has some great choice in music, and this episode is no exception with Bryan Adams. The Gnarls Barkley song is a little more tacky, but it worked.
- "Dee I will slap you in the teeth."
- "You should have just moved into the empty apartment in our building." "The one where the family was murdered?" "BRUTALLY murdered."
- "What the hell are you laughing at Charlie, you already sleep with an old man, and for no other reason than you seem to enjoy it."
- "Charlie and Frank are doing something with Russian hats now."
- "Children play here you fat cow!"
- "Excuse me, I have to piss. Out of my penis?"
- "I can't make this house into a home, I didn't go to school for that!"
"What's that?" "Dog grave." "Huh.",