12 seasons done and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia seems to be getting better with age, and there's a lot more to come with FXX having already ordered Seasons 13 & 14.
Long running is not always a sign of quality in a program of course, Two and a Half Men managed to run for 12 seasons, 12! But usually if they stand the test of time it's because they are quality shows, but even the best, classics like Friends & Fraiser dipped in quality at points throughout their 10 and 11 seasons respectively.
So what is different about It's Always Sunny?
The biggest difference you have to consider is the number of episodes per season. The early seasons ranged from 7 to 15 episodes, but by season 8 they settled on 10. This is a lot less than the average 20/24 episode seasons of most sitcoms in the US, it's actually closer to the average season length of a British sitcom, typically 6 episodes. This is not all they have in common with British sitcoms, unlike the network produced, group written US shows, Its Always Sunny is written and produced by Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day. This brings something special to a show and is part of the reason British shows are held in such high esteem. When a script is written by a group of writers, passed through other writers, proof readers, script managers and god knows who else before being handed to actors with little freedom to improvise and play around with it, the end product will never be the same. With Sunny the stars of the show wrote it, they know exactly what they were thinking when they wrote it, they connect with the words and the characters in a way no other actors ever could. This helps to ensure no matter how ridiculous the events, no matter how many dumpster babies, incestuous fork-stabbing milk drinkers or ringworm infested former clergymen, the show feels real.
I've spent countless hours scouring the web for negativity towards any season or even episodes in particular, and every time i discover an episode labelled the worst you have hundreds of people leaping to it's defence claiming it as their favourite episode.Redditor BaggySpandex said it best that even the worst episode of It's Always Sunny is "Still like the worst chocolate in a great mix-pack...I'll eat the shit if it's the only one left."
The sheer originality and lack of fear to be different can alienate the odd viewer from week to week but the brilliance of the writing makes any situation relevant to fans of the show. Some of the best moments in Its Always Sunny comes from simple back and forths between the characters, one of my favourite exchanges:
Ajax's Joel Veltman with one of the worst pieces of bad sportsmanship we've ever seen - check out the video...