The UK has a proud tradition of completely ignoring the crème de la crème of American comedy, possibly due to TV bosses' inability (or reluctance) to broadcast great shows on our television screens. Lack of budget? Full schedules? Unfathomable ignorance? Whatever the reason(s) for these shameful telly wrongdoings, we Brits have missed out on some cracking TV from across the pond in recent years!
Of course, when acclaimed programmes have somehow miraculously been secured to appear on British television in the past, baffled audiences essentially needed to hire private investigators to try and work out when the next episode of their favourite show would be aired! For example, who's old enough to remember the BBC's scattergun approach to scheduling episodes of Seinfeld? The constant toing and froing that poor Jerry suffered on the BBC still smarts after all these years, resulting in an entire generation of comedy fans probably still harbouring bitter anti-licence fee sentiments to this day. Don't even get me started on More 4's treatment of Curb Your Enthusiasm...
However, American TV shows have thankfully become much easier to view since those dark harrowing days, thanks to the wonderful godsend that's known within tech circles as "streaming". Netflix and Amazon Prime now have an endless collection of kick-ass (excuse the Americanism) American shows available for us Brits to stream or buy; such as Arrested Development, Community, 30 Rock, Suits, The Office, Parks & Recreation, Modern Family, Mad Men, Freaks and Geeks, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and House of Cards. Yep, life is good for couch potatoes in 2015!
But in amongst this treasure trove of American television riches currently available to us via streaming services, one small cult show seems to surprisingly shine brighter than all the rest: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This edgy comedy nugget, which began in 2005 on FX (and has just began its tenth anniversary season on FXX this month), follows the antics of five chums ("The Gang") who run an Irish bar in South Philly called Paddy's Pub. The main protagonists are twins Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), plus (at the start of season 2) Dennis and Sweet Dee's "father" Frank Reynolds (Danny Devito). Yes, that's Danny Devito, the small pint-size Hollywood chap who was Arnold Schwarzenegger's "twin" or something during the 1980s. Watch the gang in the (bizarre) trailer for season 10 below:
Straight off the bat, it's fair to say that when you start watching the actual show that you'll notice that this gang are by far the most narcissistic, self-absorbed and (occasionally) downright despicable characters in the history of television...and this is exactly what makes the show so refreshingly brilliant! Part-Cheers, part-Peep Show, part-Inbetweeners, part-South Park, the show certainly has a unique voice in the predominantly "safe" world of American situation comedy. You sadly don't see The Bang Theory characters regularly addressing each other as "Bitches" now do you? The show isn't crass per se, but they do brazenly approach topics (abortion, drugs, race, gun control, bed pooing) that other shows wouldn't touch with a extra super-long barge pole.
Incidentally, this bravery is probably the reason why the vast majority of shows that appear on FX or HBO are generally pretty fantastic, as these networks simply trust "the talent" and pretty much give them free rein to do whatever the hell they want! BTW, talking of great FX shows, did you happen to catch Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman in Fargo on Channel 4 last year? Genius. It was without question the essential viewing of 2014. Oh, and if Nexflix or Amazon Prime big-wigs are reading this, can you please snap up Season 1 of Fargo to stream? Thank you. Louis C.K.'s Louie would also be great while you're at it.
So anyway, back to the main point of this blog, if you're sick of dire sitcoms being shown on British television (although Channel 4's Toast Of London gets a thumbs up from me), then I'd highly recommend you hunting down IASIP on Netflix. It's fair to say that if you LOL yourself silly at the likes of Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia probably isn't for you. But if you have the winning combo of a high IQ combined with a sense of humour, you've thankfully got 10 years worth of episodes of Always Sunny (104 episodes to be exact) currently available to watch on Netflix. Plus the new Season 10 is likely to be added at some point in the not-too-distant future.
What are you waiting for, bitches?