It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S11E06 Recap: 'Being Frank'

One of the reasons the structure of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia has worked for so long is because it always keeps the dynamics between the groups in balance. Everyone is constantly fighting to push faces out of the way an get to the top of the heap of assholes. It's a constant struggle between these five people purporting to be friends, when in reality they all constantly strive to undermine each other. Dee and Dennis and siblings, but they hate each other. Mac looks up to Dennis but resents him. And as we saw in last year's phenomenal and somewhat comparable "Charlie Work", Charlie's contributions to the group mostly go unremarked upon.

Frank, though, has always been an outsider more than the rest. He's older, he's really only around because he can finance The Gang's schemes, and while he's been in their lives for a decade, he's the newest member to the group. His status as an outsider has always been on display on the show, but this week's episode, "Being Frank", shines a light on it in a unique way, by taking us through a day in the life of Frank Reynolds. Quite literally, in fact, as the episode is shot in first person.

It begins with Frank waking up to texts from Dennis inquiring about his whereabouts, and follows him throughout the day as he struggles to keep up with their elaborate plans, goes on his own side adventures with Pondy and Artemis, and even on a bender or two, before stumbling into a position where he can save the day for the group and curry favor with them.

It's the latest in filmmaking stunts the show has taken too in its later seasons. There's the aforementioned "Charlie Work" from last season, which included a long tracking shot, or the high-concept "The Gang Saves The Day" from the year before. It's the show stepping out of its shell and doing something more creative, allowing the plethora of talent that it comes from to spread its wings and stop itself from getting stale. And the end-product is usually something spectacular and unique that you'd never expect a show like this to be able to pull off, no matter how many times they do.

Yet "Being Frank" didn't resonate with me as much as those other episodes. It was great, it was certainly unique, and I can most definitely appreciate what it was trying to do, both from a filmmaking standpoint and from a character development standpoint, I just don't know if it enters the pantheon of all-time great Sunny episodes, and that's pretty much what we've come to expect when the show does something like this.

"Being Frank" doesn't feel groundbreaking like the episodes it's trying to mimic. It feels familiar, it's funny, and it winds up being sort of warm and sweet as it gives us more insight into this deeply flawed, perverse character, but it stops short of being brilliant. Maybe it's the fact that we're so used to Sunny giving us brilliance that I hold it up to a much higher standard, but then again, I honestly felt as if last week's episode was in that upper echelon, and that was a much more standard episode of the show.

Which makes me wonder if The Gang is starting to overthink it. These high concept episodes are great in small doses, but we're talking about an season where, in only six episodes, we've already had a lot of atypical episodes. There's been an 80s spoof, a sequel episode, a 10-year timewarp, and now an episode shot entirely from the eyes of one of the characters. Seeing them do this after all of that kind of makes a part of me miss the days when things would be a little more predictable, which is a peculiar problem to have, especially in the eleventh season of a show.

And it's a shame, because "Being Frank" still has a lot of great moments. It's really funny, it's unique, its gags are pitch-perfect, and it ends on a really sweet moment that helps you relate to Frank Reynolds. The pee buckets with the double streams, the mutterings about Jews and Asians, the gags with Frank's reflection, the insight into his relationship with Pondy, there are certainly a lot of memorable moments here. Maybe the most coming right at the end, when Frank curls up in bed for a confusing game of Nightcrawlers with Charlie. It's just that it's kind of low-key from what I would expect from this kind of episode.

So while I really liked "Being Frank", I have to give it 8.5 poison-laced dog treats out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Every time you see Frank in the background of a scene now, you'll have to wonder what he's muttering to himself instead of paying attention.
  • One thing that kinda took me out of the episode were the weird cuts. Mid-sentence the shot would change, and it cut to commercial way too early. It didn't help that the episode was shorter than normal too.
  • Maybe the most brilliant aspect of the episode was how, in the end, the scheme was merely to get Dennis' car back from the impound lot. The fact that The Gang is so easily swept up by such a low-stakes and self-serving plot from Dennis is hilarious. Makes you wonder if the rest of them were maybe not paying attention, like Frank.
  • I think I would have liked this episode more if it was trying less to be a spoof of something high brow (can't really place my finger on what exactly), and more of a straight up remake of Crank, which it felt like it was going to turn into when Frank got the Jew carpet.
  • Godadmnit count: 2
  • "Listen to the vain one, he knows the deal."
  • "Frank you think you're ready to run us through it again?" "Shut up, bird!"
  • "Woooah, Jeeews!"
  • "Excuse me, I'm full of dog poison."
  • "Nice nips, cupcake."
  • "Dee's a bird!"
Comment 1
19basketball89's picture

I can't agree. I think this is the worst episode that Sunny has ever done. I didn't find Frank's narration of his thoughts funny, the plot was paper thin (which is ok if the episode is funny, it wasn't) and once again it was bizarre. These concept episodes are reasonable maybe once a season, but this was too far. Charlie Work puts it to absolute shame. The less the Gang argues with each other, the worse an episode is. Getting a taste of Night Crawlers at the end was a long awaited treat, but terrible episode. I think next week will get us back on track. 4.0/10.