It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Review: "The Gang Gets Analyzed" (Episode 8.05)
There is no group on current television that needs therapy as much as the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I doubt even the Morgan siblings on Dexter have as many skeletons in their closet as these five do. It’s basically like a battle of mental issues whenever an argument arises at Paddy’s Pub. Usually the gang is averse to outside advice; just look at how they treated the therapist in “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention,” completely disregarding her as they yelled at Frank while drinking wine in a can. But in “The Gang Gets Analyzed,” the gang goes for the therapy, and as the therapist in this episode, played by Kerri Kenney, astutely proves, their current problems are only the surface of much larger mental anxieties.
“The Gang Gets Analyzed” does two things that always make for a great shake-up in the group’s dynamic: having seemingly normal outsiders give their input on how screwed up the gang really is, and isolating all the members of the gang. Each member gets their own moments with Kenney’s therapist, divulging information unbeknownst to us about their pasts that further deepens our understanding of these characters.
After a dinner party to help clear up some problems, suggested by the therapist to Dee, the entire gang has come to her therapy session to settle the argument over who should do the dishes. Instead of settling the argument, all five have their own therapy sessions.
First up is Mac, who is bipolar to the max, going from laughing to crying, punching the air to laying down upset on the couch. He explains that his sudden weight loss is because of pills Dennis has been giving him and that he misses being so large that he scares people. Probably the most telling moment in his session is when he states that the therapist’s well-placed pen is supposed to make him think of a penis. Seconds later, the pen is in Mac’s mouth.
Charlie is probably the most open to therapy, since he feels like he is probably the weirdest guy in the universe. He may be onto something, because he’s had a pigeon in his jacket for who knows how long and takes to gluing cat hair to the back of his neck. The therapist points out that Charlie should be comfortable in his own skin and that he’s never weird if he’s comfortable with who he is. But then Charlie says he wishes he could have some extra skin so he could be even more comfortable
Frank is against the idea of therapy, but within seconds is bursting into tears, as he recounts his childhood experience with therapy led him to be sent to a school for nitwits. It’s an incredible performance from DeVito, as he recounts his experiences at the school with a “frog kid” and his first kiss with a girl with no lips. Frank cries and yells at the therapist for unzipping these emotions in him.
Dennis is the most quietly terrifying in the group. He also sees himself as a therapist, considering himself a peer to the therapist. He has also kept files on all his friends, even starting a file on Dee in crayon when he was in second grade. What’s most disconcerting is that he actually has many of his friends pegged, knowing their weaknesses and utilizing them to his will.
Dee frankly just wants to be told she’s good. She has been lying to her therapist in every session, but then plays it off as her “acting.” She then begs for the therapist to tell her that she’s good. Over and over again.
With a little help, the gang could probably have some semblance of normalcy. Mac could not keep lying to himself, Charlie might not be so afraid to hide who he really is, Frank could let go of his haunted past, Dee might learn to not crave as much attention and constant reinforcement and Dennis—well, Dennis could quit being insane. But, still, all they are interested in is who should do the dishes. The therapist gives up and concludes that Dee should, so Dee smashes all the plates in the therapist’s face while berating her.
“The Gang Gets Analyzed” has a lot of fun with how messed-up these characters are, however I’m a bit surprised it didn’t go further. Dennis and Frank were revealed to be much more screwed up than we had previously thought, but Mac, Charlie and Dee just seemed like they were reinforcing their key character traits. But regardless, seeing how much help these five needed individually led to an amusing episode that showed us what lies underneath these screaming, maniacal lunatics.