'It's Always Sunny' Rob McElhenney on the Few Times the Gang Went Too Far

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was always intended to be subversive. (The very first episode is called, “The Gang Gets Racist,” after all.)

It’s part of what makes the show special — it’s the anti-Friends, as creator Rob McElhenney calls it. Episodes focus on controversial topics and have the characters take extreme, often MAGA-esque, positions. Over the years, It’s Always Sunny has tackled abortion, gun control, blackface, climate change, and so much more.

Of course, as fans know, nobody behind the series — Rob, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton — has those views in real life. The group is progressive and largely uses the show to poke fun at ultra-conservatives.

Although it’s clear that the team has no ill intentions when it comes to the series, there are a few moments that Rob regrets, starting with their treatment of transgender characters early in the series.

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In seasons 1 and 3, Rob’s character Mac hooks up with a transgirl Carmen, with whom he is embarrassed to be seen. But looking back, Rob regrets the way they tackled Carmen in the series.

Speaking with Esquire, he explained,

“[The characters] were calling [Carmen] a slur during the first few years, which was most definitely out of ignorance. It was never supposed to be inflammatory or hurtful, but nevertheless, it was. We can’t go back and re-edit those episodes, but what we can do is make sure that as we’re moving forward, we’re making those adjustments and doing our due diligence.”

Rob says there were other parts of the show that suffered due to their lack of awareness and ignorance, specifically citing the lack of diversity on the show.

Perhaps the moment that Rob regrets the most is the time that Mac briefly came out as gay only to go right back into the closet. He recalled,

“There were people that we had truly disappointed, members of the Sunny community who thought maybe this character was representing them, and when he came out and then immediately took it back, it was really upsetting to them.”

Seeing all those disappointed fans hit Rob hard as the issue is deeply personal for him. His mother, as well as his two brothers, are gay, so receiving that kind of response from the queer community was “heartbreaking.”

Eventually, the gang gave Mac a proper coming out, which culminated in a deeply emotional lyrical dance that Mac performed to come out to his father at the end of season 13.

Rob is definitely not a dancer but was determined to show his love for the LGBTQ community.

“Just thinking about the community itself, and how important they’ve been to my entire existence. I knew that if I could do something as small as dancing on a dick-and-ball-show basic-cable late-night comedy and if it would mean anything to anybody, then I would be willing to put in the four months of work to get the four minutes of screen time because that’s what they’re owed.”

FX is currently in talks with Rob, Charlie, and Glenn on a 15th season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In the meantime, you can stream the first 13 seasons on Hulu.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.