It's been a pretty exciting month for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans. At the beginning of October, the gang released its season 7 Blu-ray, which was immediately followed by the show's season 8 premiere on FX. After seven seasons of guns, crack, the Aluminum Monster, boiling denim, surrogacy, and "Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games," we have to wonder what surprises are in store for the gang in the upcoming season.
The "gang" is Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Charlie (Charlie Day), Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Frank (Danny DeVito) -- and for the past seven seasons, they've been running the fictional Paddy's Pub, a bar in South Philadelphia where nobody knows your name. The bar may not have a lot of customers, but the show certainly has a lot of unique characters and storylines.
Tonight will put us three episodes into season eight, and it looks like the gang isn't going to let up on the weirdness anytime soon -- not with episodes titled, "The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre."
Big Picture Big Sound got the chance to sit in on a chat with creator/executive producer/writer Rob McElhenney and executive producer/writer Glenn Howerton, who fans probably know best as Mac and Dennis. The duo talked about the current season, the recent Blu-ray's lack of extras, and their desire to beat Bonanza's broadcasting record. Here are a few highlights from the roundtable.
Question: How do you guys come up with the material that you use?
Rob McElhenney: Some of it is, probably, to whatever degree, taken from the headlines. I think it's really just the way our brains work, I guess, you could say. It's the way that -- it's the filter to which we see the world. I think we're all observing what's going on around us. Taking down ideas as the years go on and putting them on screen in the only way we know how...
In our premiere episode, we deal with euthanasia and that was sparked somewhat by a conversion that I was having with Kaitlin [Olson] where we were fast-forwarding in our lives, and trying to figure out if one of us was on life-support -- those are conversations that we have to have. What do we want? Do we want to be DNR? Do we want to be hooked up forever? We were having that conversation and I brought it up in the writer's room and then that's what sparked the conversation and we started thinking; okay, now, how can we do an episode about this?
Glenn Howerton: I did have that same conversation with my wife. It was actually funny because we both had a totally different view on it. She was like, well I don't know, I mean, what if something happens and I was like, look, if something happens to me and I'm in a coma for a certain amount of time and the doctors are all saying even if I do wake up I'll be brain dead, just pull the plug. I don't want to live that way, you know what I mean? Take me out. Send me off into the next... release my soul from this crushed body. Something.
R. McElhenney: I want to be kept alive until the machine overlords can upload my soul...
Q: What are your ultimate goals for the show? Are there any milestones or anything that you'd like the series to achieve?
G. Howerton: We want to go a full quarter century.
R. McElhenney: God, no, no, no. God forbid. We'd like a nice round number of ten. We'll probably go ten seasons. I think our goal for the show is always to surprise people because we think that that's really the best way to achieve comedy; comedic result is to always be surprising people. That's our overall goal. I think the idea of knowing when our last season is is exciting because we can actually write towards an end. But that won't be for a couple years.
G. Howerton: For me, I want to break Bonanza's record.
R. McElhenney: What was Bonanza's record?
G. Howerton: 22 years. I want to be longer than The Simpsons. I want to be able to take out our teeth during scenes.
Q: Do you have any guest stars that you can mention that we'll be seeing this season?
R. McElhenney: We've got a really fun guest star role for Sean Combs this year; P. Diddy. I'm excited for people to see it. I think it's very, very different from anything that, at least I've ever seen him do, on anything. We're excited about that.
G. Howerton: Guillermo del Toro.
R. McElhenney: Yes, Guillermo del Toro, the director, writer, producer is also, we found out, a big fan of the show. Charlie [Day] just did a movie with him, so he really wanted to do a guest star so we wrote him in this year, too. It's really funny.
Q: There are no deleted scenes, outtakes, or anything like that on the season 7 Blu-ray. How much of what you do doesn't make it to air?
G. Howerton: We've started to streamline things a little bit better in the writing process so that we don't end up with a lot of scenes on the cutting room floor. I think, actually, earlier on we probably had more things that we cut because the scripts were longer and we would try to edit ourselves as much as possible in the writing. We don't want to shoot a bunch of things that aren't going to make it. Most of the stuff that doesn't make it on the air is just either probably extensions of scenes or little things that were cut out more than whole scenes themselves.
Q: Have you ever written a scene or story where you thought you had gone too far?
G. Howerton: We never set out to... we never want to offend anyone; not for the sake of offending anyone. People will always be offended by things. That's just the way it is. Usually the people who get insulted the most over the course of the episode are the characters themselves, which is why I think we can get away with so much. There are certain things, it's just a matter of taste. We had some things actually in the season opener with some very touchy subject matter. I won't go into it, but there were some things that we decided to extract from the episode because we felt like it took the joke a little bit too far -- it's when it goes into territory where it's not funny anymore.
Q: Do you have any favorite rejected topics?
G. Howerton: We probably had some stuff earlier on, in earlier seasons -- but now that the network understands our sensibility and trusts us a little bit more, they really are great to trust us now. They get it more. We don't have to explain to them what we're going for and they trust it. If we think it's funny, then it probably is. What pops into your head? Anything, Rob?
R. McElhenney: Yes. We tried to break this story a couple of times -- maybe two or three years -- and it's just never quite worked. We never got it to a place where we wanted continue. That was something involving us and a reality show. We were potentially picked as being the focus/focal point of a reality show or that we sign-up for a reality show. Maybe like... what's that show?
G. Howerton: Bar Rescue, or something. The Amazing Race or something like that.
R. McElhenney: Yes. We'd talked about doing some kind of a reality show thing. Again, it wasn't rejected because it was too hot or nobody liked it. It was just we haven't been able to crack it yet in a way that we felt was funny.
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" airs every Thursday at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on FX.
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