FX Networks

Few shows on television have a cast as consistently grotesque and captivating as “The Gang” from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The premiere of their new season marks twelve years of odious and unethical scheming, planning and swindling across a rainbow spectrum of whimsical debauchery and narcissistic silliness.

The premiere of season 12 aired on Jan. 4, and caused some controversy over racial issues that were explored in the episode. In “The Gang Turns Black” The gang magically becomes black after being electrocuted during a lightning storm. As the story progresses the guys find out that they are not black versions of themselves, but instead they inhabit the bodies of random black people. This manages to get Dennis, Mac and Charlie arrested as they try to break in to Dennis’ car when he can’t find his keys. Additionally, Frank is desperate to say the “N-word” now that he is black, and Charlie is gunned down by police when they mistake his toy train for a gun. These segments are arguably questionable, but never step outside the normal boundaries of Sunny’s perversity.

The rest of the season caused much less controversy, but was certainly no less controversial. Frank’s shell company Wolf Cola is endorsed by a terrorist group. Dennis is accused of murder. Frank saves Mac’s life using a homophobic slur. And Mac officially comes out of the closet to win money.

One episode that exhibits the excellence of the crew is the third episode of the season “Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy” Charlie receives a coded message from his mother that leads him to believe she is being held hostage by Mac’s mother in their shared home. As a solution, Mac and Charlie place hidden cameras all over the house to spy on their mothers and make sure they are safe. The genius of this episode comes through in how Dennis manipulates the situation and creates this creepy invasion of privacy into an unknowing sitcom by adding a laugh track and sound effects.

The season finale surprised fans with Dennis seemingly leaving the bar for good. After lying about who he is to have sex with a woman from the Midwest, his plan backfires when the woman gets pregnant and brings their son with her to Philadelphia to meet Dennis’ friends. The gang strings together an absurd scheme to run the woman off by pretending Dennis is in a sexual relationship with Mac. When that fails, they move on to poorly faking Dennis’ death. The plan fails miserably and Dennis is confronted with the ridiculousness of his actions.

At this stage of the show’s life cycle “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has perfected their characters and all the hilarious idiosyncrasies that make them iconic. It has reached a level of mastery where the gang can be placed into literally any conceivable scenario and it will undoubtedly be funny. There is a palpable authenticity in the ridiculousness of the characters that gives them free reign to be charmingly offensive in an infinite number of interactions with each other and the world around them.

The gang has been as strong as ever in delivering their latest season. Every year the “It’s Always Sunny” crew manages to outdo themselves and excel in the realm of television comedy like few others can.