Whenever The Gang from Paddy’s Pub decide to leave the comfort of their home Philadelphia, things go even worse than when they stay put at their bar. In “The Gang Hits the Road,” their intention was to go to the Grand Canyon, but they ended up driving only a few blocks from the pub and getting carjacked. And in last season’s “The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods”, half of the gang…well got, stuck in the woods. But in their newest episode “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore”, the memories of great summers in New Jersey lead to their craziest outing as half the gang has the time of their life, while the other half end up traumatized and terrified.
After reminiscing of the fantastic times Dee and Dennis have on the beaches of the Jersey Shore, the group decides to take a road trip down. Even Charlie, who is usually reticent to leave Philly, abandons his fear after promises of finally getting to see the ocean. Dee and Dennis promise the gang that the Jersey Shore is nothing like what the MTV show makes it look like. They’re right. It is much worse.
Upon arrival, Dee and Dennis take Charlie to the beach, who is in love with the stray dogs and scattered trash that can be found on the shore. Disgusted by the abandoned, syringe-filled beach, the two take Charlie to where the real action happens: under the boardwalk. The action they do find is two homeless men engaging in some illicit sexual acts with each other. Disturbed by this, Charlie sets out on his own, back to his beloved beach, leaving Dennis and Dee to walk on the boardwalk.
Meanwhile, while Mac is sunbathing, Frank comes back to the beach with a ham soaked in rum. When the beach’s wild dogs attack them for the meat, they take off to an inflatable tube to get “ham-mered”. When they wake up far away from the beach, sunburned and with rum ham lost to the ocean, the two are stuck and deciding who to eat first…when a boat filled with Guidos shows up. The two party, get spray tans and shoot up with steroids. An insane party only the Jersey Shore could provide.
Back on the beach, Charlie is finding treasures like broken glass and seaweed when none other than his love, The Waitress, shows up. Surprisingly happy to see him, the two spend the night genuinely enjoying each other’s company, picking trash and playing with wild dogs. It isn’t until the next morning when the truth comes out, that the waitress was on ecstasy and that her reaction to Charlie was because of that. Regardless, the great memories of the two of them together are sure to keep a warm place in Charlie’s heart. These great moments between Charlie and the waitress were a welcome change for fans who have been watching seven seasons of Charlie constantly getting shot down. It would be great if they continue this possibility throughout the season.
Dee and Dennis are having a horrible time on the boardwalk though. After an amusement park ride rips out one of Dee’s recently added braids and makes Dennis vomit, the two go to the hospital. While waiting, the duo are still attacked by wild dogs and attempt to discreetly discuss the terrible life of another person waiting. The girl happens to be only a few feet from them and is open with them, and even asks if they want to party with her. Looking for any sort of redemption, the brother and sister agree and end up on an insane night with the girl and some shady characters in a van, filled with angel dust, ABC store robberies and murders in a great montage that melds the three characters’ separate stories into a montage that makes the Wet Hot American Summer montage seem tame in comparison.
In the end, Charlie, Mac and Frank have had a great time in Jersey Shore, however Dennis and Dee’s memories can’t live up to the realities of their adult selves, as they run from the angel dust-smoking, doctor-shooting robbers they’ve become friends with. The gang hightails it in their car and heads back to the safety of their Philadelphia pub.
“The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore” further sets the bar for darkness this season, almost atoning for the more lighthearted previous season. In only their second episode, they set the bar high for future episodes in terms of great comedy. It is rare that the show focuses on three separate stories, but this episode works surprisingly well. While the episode does steal much of its outline with “The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods” (everything from half the gang having a good time and the other half having a horrible time, right down to the second act montage), but this episode does everything that one did, but better. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia works at its best when it goes as dark as their adventures will take them and deals with disappointed expectations, which is what makes “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore” a great follow-up to their shocking and hilarious season premiere.