I happen to think that an overwhelming majority of comedies on television simply aren’t funny. They’re often lame, predictable, and formulaic. Two glaring exceptions, though, are It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Although very different with regards to style of humor (Curb is mostly Jewish neurosis and awkward situations; Always Sunny is shocking and over-the-top), I consider both Curb and Always Sunny to be two of the funniest shows on television. Not only that, they’re consistently funny. Naturally, I was pretty excited about the season premiere of each show. Always Sunny was good; Curb was great. Keep reading for my review(s). Minor spoilers ahead.
Always Sunny ended on a tremendous high note last season with the presentation of Charlie’s play, The Nightman Cometh, so the bar was set pretty high going into this season. As usual, and like South Park, the subject matter of the premiere was topical. In this case, it was the mortgage crisis. One of the more clever aspects of Always Sunny is the presentation of the show’s title: the name of the episode is timely flashed on the screen before the opening credits and right after a small, introductory scene. The Always Sunny premiere somewhat broke the fourth wall, as Mac, Dennis, Charlie, and Frank debated whether to focus on Dee being a surrogate mother or on Frank’s decision to buy a house. The men unanimously agree to put Dee’s story on the backburner in lieu of Frank’s, and lo and behold, “The Gang Explots the Mortgage Crisis”is the title of the premiere. The direction of the show is referred to several times throughout the episode until the stories eventually cross into one another, and the show’s self-awareness was a clever concept employed by the writers. Always Sunny is known for its crude humor, so it was nice to see something a bit more thoughtful.
Aside from the fourth wall narrative, the episode itself was classic Always Sunny – each character proving that he or she is a despicable human being and humiliating themselves in the process. Dennis, as usual, thinks that he can charm anyone into doing anything, and in this case, it’s buying a house. Mac thinks he’s tougher than he really is, Dee thinks she’s hotter than she really is, and of course, Charlie thinks he’s smarter than he really is. I loved Mac as “Vic Vinegar,” the “bad guy” real estate broker, but as is almost always the case, the best scenes belonged to Charlie. Unlike the others, Charlie has a childlike innocence about him, and his bad deeds are the result of his environment. In the premiere, Charlie goes head-to-head with a Harvard lawyer and puts his stupidity on full display.
The premiere was just about what I expected it to be, with each character acting like a scumbag and shocking us with how far they are willing to sink to obtain their goals. The ending, though, felt a bit rushed and thrown together, and there weren’t any standout scenes. For the most part, Charlie was pretty docile and make no mistake about it – Charlie flipping out is the funniest thing that can happen on this show. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed with this pretty average episode, but with the bar set so high, I thought the episode could have been better. Funny, yes, but nowhere near a classic.
Curb, on the other hand, came out firing on all cylinders. Curb is much more story-driven than Always Sunny, and I was interested as to how the writers would handle Larry’s life now that he’s with Loretta Black and apart from Cheryl. It turns out that Loretta is very sick and Larry is having thoughts of leaving her. In fact, Larry does want to leave her, but he knows that if Loretta ends up having cancer, he’s going to look like a complete a-hole. True. And although cancer is a taboo subject, Curb handles it properly. By understanding the weight of a disease like cancer, Curb can put Larry in this terribly awkward position and we can laugh at it. There’s no undermining the seriousness of cancer, and nobody’s making fun of cancer. I imagine some touchy critics may be offended, but really, there’s nothing offensive going on here. It turns out that Loretta does have cancer, and so it looks like the overarching story this season will be Larry trying to finesse his way out of a relationship with Loretta while trying not to look like an a-hole. I’m guessing he’ll fail.
Catherine O’Hara was featured as Bam Bam Funkhouser, Marty’s batshit insane sister, and she was terrific. Larry and Jeff agree to keep her company and entertain her after realizing that Marty will take you up on an empty gesture, such as “anything you want, just ask.” It’s a perfect example of the type of awkward situation that Curb examines so well. Also examined in this episode was the idea of taking a drink from someone’s fridge without asking, at what temperature the house should be kept during the night, and, funniest of all, Larry explaining to a gay couple that one of them seemed “more gay” than the other. My only complaint with this episode was that there wasn’t enough Leon. All-in-all, though, it was a hilarious episode and I’m pumped for this season of Curb. I’m pumped for Always Sunny, too; I just thought they could have started a little stronger.
What did you guys think?