Rob ‘Mac’ McElhenney & Glenn ‘Dennis’ Howerton

When It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premiered in 2005, it was a show that discussed hot topics like abortion, racism and gun control. It was on the bubble but it was granted a stay of execution by FX president John Landgraf. Now, in it’s eighth season, “It’s Always Sunny” continues it’s crazed tradition of off the wall topics, and I recently had a moment to speak with series’ stars and executive producers Rob ‘Mac’ McElhenney and Glenn ‘Dennis’ Howerton.

Are there a certain set of criteria that do go in to breaking a story, that you find that you have to have a certain set of criteria?

GH: Most importantly, what we’re always talking about is, for as unbelievable as some of the storylines may seem, we have to believe that the characters believe that what they’re doing gets them what they want.  That’s the most important aspect of breaking a story, so it doesn’t just feel like a series of funny events.  That we really justify why these characters are acting the way that they do. That’s
the major criteria that I follow.  Of course, we like to tie things up and tie things together.  That’s good story writing.

Have you ever written a scene or story where you thought you had gone too far?

GH: The gauge for too far is always just—we never set out to—we never want to offend anyone; not for the sake of offending anyone.  People will always be offended by things.  That’s just the way it is.  Usually the people who get insulted the most over the course of the episode are the characters themselves, which is why I think we can get away with so much.  There are certain things—it’s just a matter of taste.  We had some things actually in the season opener with some very touchy subject matter.  I won’t go into it, but there were some things that we decided to extract from the episode because we felt like it took the joke a little bit too far—it’s when it goes into
territory where it’s not funny anymore.

Was it more of a gradual development or was it just planned that you would start adding more supporting characters in the show, and open up what was a little more of an insular world with the three leads?

RM: As we built out the show and built out the characters, we realized that what we were creating was a bit of an alternate universe.  Certainly, the stakes are just as high as real life, but the results are a little bit different.  These people—I was counting how many major car accidents my character has been in over the last seven years.  I think I’ve had five or six head-on collisions.  I don’t seem to have any—maybe some brain damage, but the character doesn’t seem to have any physical scars.  Clearly, we’re creating a heightened
reality.  When we started joking about who else lives in this universe, who else lives in this world, it just made us laugh.  That helped broaden our scope, which I think only adds to the comedy.

GH: Maybe more of a parallel universe that an alternate, a completely alternate one; slightly heightened reality, yes.

Whose idea was it to bring on your significant others in real life, only to bring them on the show to loathe the characters that you pair them up with?

RM: I started to loath Kaitlin only after Season 1. We weren’t dating at all prior to it.  We met on the show.  The loathing didn’t start until Season 1 and then that’s when it really got exciting for us, sexually.

In addition, Glenn, I believe it was your wife and the D.E.N.N.I.S. system?  Is that correct?

GH: That’s correct, yes.

Her character pretty much loathed you—that’s kind of what I meant in Mary [Elizabeth Ellis] loathing Charlie—to basically bring them on just so that they will just be the worst pairing possible.

I think that’s just more of the nature of our show than what we were trying to do specifically. It’s just more funny within the context of our universe to have characters in conflict than the other way around.  It’s not a show that you’re really going to see many characters that are in love or having a good relationship or healthy relationship.  It’s not the nature of our show.

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