TV preview: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The reality series “Toddlers and Tiaras” has been in hot water recently over the three-year-old girl who dressed up in Julia Roberts’ streetwalker outfit from “Pretty Woman.” “Toddlers and Tiaras” is an exploitative and offensive show that doesn’t realize how awful it is.

What does “Toddlers and Tiaras” have in common with “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”? “Sunny” fully realizes, and embraces, the fact that it’s one of the most consistently offensive comedies on television. It proves its capacity for such humor hasn’t diminished in the excellent premiere that borrows the plot of “Pretty Woman.”

Frank (Danny DeVito) decides to wed his favorite prostitute, Roxy (guest star Alanna Ubach of “Waiting” fame), and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) thinks an image makeover a la “Pretty Woman” for Roxy will transform her.

Alas, we learn it takes a lot more than some new clothes to make a crack-addicted prostitute into a respectable member of society.

While Frank prepares to propose with Charlie’s help (Charlie Day), Mac (Rob McElhenney) teaches Dennis (Glenn Howerton) the beauty of eating whatever you want.

Much has been made about McElhenney gaining 50 pounds just because he thought fat Mac would be funny, and even though it’s a fairly simple stunt, it’s played incredibly well.

Seeing Mac carry around a garbage bag full of chimichangas and wearing Tommy Bahama shirts is worth the weight gain.

McElhenney gets some funny stuff this season and deserves credit for going all-in on the fat stuff, but DeVito is the standout in the first few episodes — especially the premiere and third episode, titled “Frank Reynolds’ Little Beauties.”

In another story inspired by “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the gang gets involved in the child pageantry business. It’s deplorable and brilliantly fun.

For the second episode, the gang goes to the Jersey shore, where Dee and Dennis try to show Charlie how wonderful a place the shore can be. Sadly, and hysterically, the shore isn’t the same place they remembered.

“Sunny” has never been shy about using its characters’ worst qualities to find humor, and these early episodes prove that when this show is firing on all cylinders, it can be so wrong, but oh, so right.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

10 p.m. Thursdays on FX

3.5 stars