There's like this storm inside of me and it's been raging my whole life
November 8, 2018 6:39 AM   Subscribe

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, better known for crass humor like the D.E.N.N.I.S. System, finished off its 13th season with an spellingbinding dance between Mac and professional ballerina Kylie Shea.

The dance is an expression of Mac's internal struggle identifying as a gay man and the universal struggle we all face to accept ourselves.

Read Vulture's story for a full discussion of the character and the work that went into pulling the scene together.
posted by unannihilated (57 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Remember when Mac was fat? I haven't watched this season yet so that's my only comment on it.
posted by dis_integration at 6:46 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


OMG Yes i was actually quite moved by that amazing dance production!!! I was almost gonna post it here but then I was like "I'll probably get ostracized for admitting I'm into that show".

Glad to see someone else took the chance I was too afraid to take.
posted by some loser at 6:55 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


You know, because of the implication
posted by some loser at 6:56 AM on November 8 [18 favorites]


Rule of IASIP threads: At least 3/4 of the comments must just be direct quotes from the show. Thanks, some loser, for getting it going here.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:59 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


You don't need to have watched any of the season to read the story/watch the clip.

Two things I never thought I'd say about It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: I was so moved. What an amazing piece of art.
posted by unannihilated at 6:59 AM on November 8 [9 favorites]


I have no idea of the dramatic context here, but god damn that's a lucky man. It is like getting to work with an exquisitely designed piece of industrial equipment that is also a beautiful human. He must have been terrified of making a mistake and dropping her, though. Dancers aren't fragile, but that is a body with years of work pumped into it. It is beyond price.
posted by ckridge at 7:00 AM on November 8 [9 favorites]


What a strange way to talk about a person.
posted by kokaku at 7:04 AM on November 8 [76 favorites]


This is exactly what I look like during my "Adult Baby Ballet" classes...uncanny.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:08 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


"I'll probably get ostracized for admitting I'm into that show".

What? Does this place have an anti-Sunny collective sentiment or something? Always Sunny is a great show, hasn't had any slumpy seasons or decline in quality yet which is really impressive. This season has been fantastic, I was actually expecting this one to be worse since for a while Dennis wasn't even going to be in it but even that fact ended up being a hilarious episode point.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:16 AM on November 8 [9 favorites]


I have never seen IASP - does every episode feature a dance segment like that...?
posted by PhineasGage at 7:26 AM on November 8


Negative. But they do have the odd musical/dance segment every few seasons... the Nightman Cometh for example, or the one where they did the American Idol type thing while on bath salts.
posted by some loser at 7:29 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen a single episode of the show, but good on them for taking so-called "high art" seriously and trying to give some indication of its transformative potential. That isn't the most frequent path taken by a mass media that usually prefers to celebrate sticking it to "elitists".
posted by gusottertrout at 7:30 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


It is like getting to work with an exquisitely designed piece of industrial equipment that is also a beautiful human. He must have been terrified of making a mistake and dropping her, though. Dancers aren't fragile, but that is a body with years of work pumped into it. It is beyond price.

Indeed. As someone who has worked hard in the past to develop their body into a finely tuned precision instrument (and suffers the consequences of failure still today) I was blown away by Mac's truly amazing female partner in this piece. I've seen some other live dance at various theaters in the past and while I was indeed moved emotionally by some, none were as good as this. Mind you, you get a lot more chances to get everything just perfect when being filmed/edited than you do in a live setting. Which is what makes things like Cirque du Solei so impressive as well - they do it live!
posted by some loser at 7:34 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


What? Does this place have an anti-Sunny collective sentiment or something?

idk about Metafilter as a whole, but just personally, even though I'm overall a fan of the show, sometimes they're not great at defining the line between "laughing at these awful people" and "using awful characters as an excuse to say awful things for cheap laughs." They've gotten better about this as the show's gone on, but especially in the early seasons it can be rough. Sometimes they don't even keep the awful stuff constrained to being the opinions of the dirtbaggy characters, like I caught that episode with the "North Korean" bar recently and that indulges in stereotypes outside of the characters' words and actions.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:36 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


I have never seen IASP - does every episode feature a dance segment like that...?

Yeah, they vary between 2 and 10-ish minutes, but it's always at the very end of the show, contextualized by the preceding script. It's pretty much the main thing the show is known for.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:36 AM on November 8 [61 favorites]


Does this place have an anti-Sunny collective sentiment or something?

It's Always Sunny superficially has a lot in common with some pretty awful shows.

The important distinction is that it doesn't let "the characters are awful people" become an excuse for awful jokes. For the most part, the main characters are still the targets of the humor, rather than "we put a bigoted rape joke into the script, but think it's okay because Frank Reynolds said it."

It also really helps that the actors are genuinely sweet people in real life, including National Treasure Danny Devito.
posted by explosion at 7:37 AM on November 8 [13 favorites]


ha, what a coincidence. i JUST watched this episode, then came to MF.
i think It's Always Sunny is willing to do some stuff that's both funny to the writers and not funny, and moving and strange and beautiful, all rolled into one - and this is a perfect example of it. it's funny that this bizarre episode ends with such an out-of-left-field portrayal of emotions; it's not funny at all, it's completely sincere - and i actually loved Mac in this episode, a Mac with his caricature dialed back a few orders of magnitude. And Frank's comic relief of just constantly bleeding from his face was a pretty excellent foil.
posted by entropone at 7:40 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Greg Nog is correct. Here are some highlights of It's Always Sunny Dance Scenes:

Dance Off (Charlie's award-winning dance)
Dance Off - Mac vs. Charlie
Dee vs. Green Thing
Dance at the Reunion
posted by frecklefaerie at 7:42 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


What a strange way to talk about a person.

Not within the world of professional dance, in my experience. Dancers' bodies are their expressive instrument, and they often talk and think about them in objective terms.

This piece was terrific, holy unexpected art.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:48 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


I have never watched an episode, but I have probably watched 70% of the series via YouTube clips. Bless those awful, lovely people.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:50 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


What a strange way to talk about a person.

Yep, I'm a more or less professional singer, and even though it makes me itch, the really serious scarf-wearin' Singers (or the ones who want to look like one...) are always talking about "the voice." Listen to Renee Fleming or other opera singers discussing the physical aspects of sound production, and it's like this:

"Today the voice is feeling flexible."

"You must always consider where the voice wants to go."

"Donizetti really writes for the voice so well."

Not just separating this function into its component self, but separating it from the body that produces it as THE voice, not MY voice.

*shrug*
posted by St. Hubbins at 8:28 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


" He must have been terrified of making a mistake and dropping her, though." I had that thought too. And I was amazed with her for trusting him, on a wet surface. And then I began to wonder how they worked on the piece? How long? Does he have training? Do they know each other otherwise? What did she do to feel it was not too risky to let this person handle her in that way? Did she not think of it that because of her professional & considered assessment of the skill necessary to perform safely?

I'm also not a watcher of the show and have no context at all for the scene and only a minimal concept of the characters. So my reaction to the piece was entirely on that level--how does a skilled performer whose body is her instrument get to the appropriate place of trust with someone who is not at the same level for two minutes of film that the producers are not likely to let consume their actor's time for an unduly long period of time.

Rather than detracting from the expression intended in the scene, I felt it added to it. Lovely.
posted by crush at 8:46 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


oh wow that is shockingly beautiful and vulnerable. the direction is lovely, lingering on the motion and cutting away sparingly for reaction shots (that are equally beautiful because of DeVito's performance). the sound is beautiful too, not just because of Sigur Ros; that moment when Shea lets out a little grunt of pain when she runs at Mac and he catches her was, just, wow

haven't watched IASIP regularly in years now, but I would never have guessed it was capable of this kind of non-ironic emotional performance (thanks for surprises of all flavors, 2018). it's always treated its characters as perpetual victims of their own ignorance, too myopic and shitty to ever grow or learn. (the only character I ever remember getting emotional beats that had any genuine vulnerability to them was Charlie, and those were... quite sparing and much more thoroughly undermined by the comedic context and the fact that he's a lunatic)

apparently no more! I have no idea what this could mean for their planned next season; hopefully not too much aggressive walking it back, though I'd imagine they'd need to do at least a little work on that front so as not to make the Gang's internecine cruelty too jarring.
posted by Kybard at 8:47 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


(it's when Mac's dad walks out that I think, watching cold, it would have become clear the show wasn't going to undercut the scene's emotional power -- that's such a startling, understated, heartbreaking moment, especially contrasted with the way Frank's already overwhelmed and in tears)
posted by Kybard at 8:48 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


"And then I began to wonder how they worked on the piece? How long? Does he have training? Do they know each other otherwise? What did she do to feel it was not too risky to let this person handle her in that way? Did she not think of it that because of her professional & considered assessment of the skill necessary to perform safely?"

The linked interview actually answers all of these questions!
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:52 AM on November 8 [13 favorites]


Wow that was great. Also, how did Mac get so fucking ripped!?

Maybe I need to get back into IASIP. Last time I watched was season 7 or 8. I know the last episode I saw was the one where they go to the Halloween party and people are turning into zombies, but it turns out that someone spiked the punch with bath salts.
posted by mannequito at 8:52 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


"What did she do to feel it was not too risky to let this person handle her in that way? "

The Vulture piece talks about that. I think mostly she is just very brave, but it also sounds like one of those things where they clicked together physically, not a sexual level but on the working, I-can-understand-and-rely-on-this-one level. This probably helped, too:

"Although there were never any injuries, everyone recalls a freak flip that happened during rehearsals once the rain had been added to a section of the dance they called “the death spiral.” Faulk practiced it first with McElhenney to make sure that Shea would be safe. He was supposed to swing her around, twirl her with one hand, and then let her go in the gushing water, but something unexpected happened when he moved his foot and lost the grip. As Faulk spun, McElhenney flipped forward, landing like a ninja to prevent her from falling. “It was insane!” said Shea, who watched it happen alongside Moctezuma."
posted by ckridge at 8:56 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


"And then I began to wonder how they worked on the piece? How long? Does he have training? Do they know each other otherwise? What did she do to feel it was not too risky to let this person handle her in that way? Did she not think of it that because of her professional & considered assessment of the skill necessary to perform safely?"

Apparently 7 months of training on his part and over a hundred filmed takes once they thought they were starting to get there. I think that's what's so amazing really, it's so much time and effort for a few minutes of film in a comedy show.
posted by atrazine at 8:59 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


I warched that one handed spiral. thinking. "Spiral fracture?" So artfully composed and executed, the sepia print quality of the lighting makes the whole thing a physical tone poem.
posted by Oyéah at 9:05 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


sometimes they're not great at defining the line between "laughing at these awful people" and "using awful characters as an excuse to say awful things for cheap laughs."

Also some of us fundamentally don't really enjoy watching shows about awful people.
posted by tavella at 9:07 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


(yes, I know the interview answers the questions. My poorly-expressed point was: My only context for the dance was the questions about why and how a dancer of that calibre could trust a non-dancer partner to fling her around like that and how it added, rather than detracted, from the emotional quality of the dance)
posted by crush at 9:09 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]




That video is amazing. I've never seen a single episode of the show, but I plan to binge-watch until I'm caught up asap.
posted by she's not there at 9:17 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Wow that was great. Also, how did Mac get so fucking ripped!?

Rob McElhenney gave some pointers for how to do it on his Instagram.

I find IASiP hard to watch with any regularity, because it does very often feature some pretty awful characters doing some pretty awful things in a way that makes me distinctly uncomfortable. On the other hand, my wife is a devoted fan and periodically there will be an episode that she says that I should watch and she has a very good sense of what works for me and what doesn't; every one of her hand-picked episodes has hit it out of the park. Mac's dance sequence was in line with a lot of what I have seen from the show; they have a willingness to break out of the mainstream comedy mold in really unexpected ways.

Despite the show generally not being for me, by all appearances the cast is made up of smart, thoughtful people.

Small derail: My wife is black. She majored in AfAm studies at Howard University, where her mother had taught. Both of her parents were black nationalists. She grew up in a home with a "no whites on the walls" rule. She is the person in my life that has the mostly finely attuned senses when it comes to spotting racism in media and I trust her judgment on that front beyond anyone else, so I was surprised but take her at her word when she said that IASiP does some of the best writing about race on television.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:19 AM on November 8 [17 favorites]


Given how dedicated Rob McElhenney is at... everything... I imagine he spent weeks if not months of his life preparing for that scene. He's really quite something. I haven't caught this season yet but that scene was so moving.

Guess it was 7 months. He's so dedicated in everything he does.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:21 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Serious question, where do male dancers get jeans like that that let them move so freely? Bonus points if they also allow for enormous thighs.
posted by daveliepmann at 9:22 AM on November 8


Dave, I'm wearing some jeans from Express right now that are like 3% spandex 97% cotton and are incredibly free moving. They're just called their slim stretch jeans, I think.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:25 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


I've never seen a single episode of the show, but I plan to binge-watch until I'm caught up asap.

Honestly, I'd recommend watching an episode from a more recent season before you wade into shows from the early years, which lean pretty heavily on cringe-humor and transgressiveness for the sake of transgressiveness. But it's an amazing show to binge and experience the evolution of the show's attitudes and comedic style from season-to-season in almost real time.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:31 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Holy shit. This is incredible.
posted by 256 at 9:33 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Wow. Based on what I've seen of this show (admittedly, probably only a dozen episodes or so) this is *not* something I would have expected to see on it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:51 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Serious question, where do male dancers get jeans like that that let them move so freely? Bonus points if they also allow for enormous thighs.

Maybe these. The first time I wore them I knew I never wanted to wear anything else and bought several pairs in case they ever stopped selling them
posted by Damienmce at 10:22 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I kept waiting for a punchline and I'm so glad there wasn't one.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 10:39 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


wearing non-stretchy jeans in 2018 is like refusing to enjoy contemporary dance because it isn't masculine enough.
posted by scose at 10:49 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Serious question, where do male dancers get jeans like that that let them move so freely? Bonus points if they also allow for enormous thighs.

Outlier makes stretchy jeans. They also used to make "Kieren cut" jeans for big thighs. Not sure if they still do.
posted by dobbs at 12:46 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


That was amazing. I'm also a fan of Sigur Ros so it's a big plus for me that they used them for the music.

Almost every brand has stretchy jeans now. If you're on a budget, even Old Navy has them. I've had a couple of pairs from American Eagle Outfitters that have lasted through much abuse (read: worn almost exclusively all the time). They're amazing when you need to really book it to catch a metro transfer and need that extra leg movement.
posted by numaner at 2:48 PM on November 8


You get a good sense of the creator's mindsets from this interview of (the now departed) Glenn Howerton:
[GQ] Obviously between Dennis and Jack, you've got a good repertoire of these very fragile men that speaks to, fortunately or unfortunately at the moment, a very specific and timely kind of person. What is it about this mindset that you like to explore as an actor? It's not exactly toxic masculinity, is it?

It's not quite toxic masculinity. I would say, when it comes to Dennis there's a certain degree of toxic masculinity, but I think it's more... You know what I think it is? [The characters are] an interesting parallel to what I think is wrong in society in general, which is, it's the most extreme version of someone who is out only for themselves. In a weird way, here we are in a free market economy, in a democracy, you're given permission to get whatever you can get, as long as you're acting within the confines of the laws, you're encouraged to. "Hey, if you can go make a billion dollars, go make a billion dollars."

And that's great in theory. But I do think it lends itself to a mindset like "Yeah, I stepped on a couple heads on my way, but I didn't break any fucking laws. So fuck you. Fuck you." And that doesn't build communities, it doesn't lead to happiness. And yet we still celebrate it. We celebrate money and we celebrate people with massive egos. I need to satirize that because it makes me so fucking angry. I want to satirize that because I want you to see what you think makes you happy fail. Dennis is Donald Trump having failed. Donald Trump is Donald Trump having succeeded. You think that guy's fucking happy though? That guy's fucking miserable. And yet the people who actually buy in to the Trump brand, they aspire to that. They're like, "Yeah, man, see! He is the perfect example of the American Dream." Right? And, yeah, he is.

But those of us who know that that doesn't make you happy look at it and go, "Oh, fuck. We need to reexamine what the definition of the American Dream. Because that guy sucks." But he was taught the same fucking things we are. In a way, you almost can't blame him. He happens to be the most grotesque version of it.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 2:51 PM on November 8 [20 favorites]


Laughs are cheap, he's going for gasps.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:42 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Without any prior knowledge of what the scene represented (I haven't watched an episode in years), the OP made me wonder what the joke was going to be, but also that this was an astonishing place for the show to go. And then watching the video and reading the behind-the-scenes article is like peeling back layers and finding new surprises at every turn: Mac's gay? It's not a joke? There's a whole plotline devoted to how to tell his imprisoned father that isn't also just a big joke? The guy who plays Mac has actually been training for months just to perform this dance? This dance somehow fits into a show I previously knew for "Dee and Dennis get addicted to crack to score welfare checks"?

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has always been the only show I've been able to enjoy about horrible people doing horrible things. Seinfeld didn't even do it for me, and that's about mundanely horrible people doing mundanely horrible things. I can't stand shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and never managed to get hooked on Arrested Development. And I think it always goes back to the show making sure to keep the butt of the joke on the people being assholes, and never on the normal people around them just trying to be normal people. I didn't really think of the show as one that allowed its horrible characters to nevertheless display some semblance of humanity, but I guess—at least for this episode—that's true as well.
posted by chrominance at 9:44 PM on November 8


I know nothing about this show other than it sounds like it's a show where everyone's an asshole, but...wow. Also, that's a pretty sexy dance about being gay?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:07 PM on November 8


I kept waiting for a punchline and I'm so glad there wasn't one.

I believe the punchline is earlier in the episode when he's trying to describe what he feels as a gay man and starts with "Its a thunderstorm and god comes down and I dance with her..." and no one gets it at all.

I instantly knew it was Sigur Ros as soon as I heard Jonsi's voice. It's like no other.

I loved this season and the writing after 13(!) seasons is still 100% on point. The clip show this year was so hilarious. Or Dennis trying to find another 1993 Land Rover.

Dee (Caitlin Olsen) is one of the funniest women on television and her dedication to physical comedy is remarkable.

If I was going to start someone on IASIP, I would definitely not start this late in the series. And also not the first season (it's a bit rough and get the same treatment as the 1st season of The Office does: don't start a newbie on that season but definitely come back to it once you've fallen in love with the show). I think I'd really start sometime in the 3rd or 4th season. When Dee and Dennis go on welfare, or when they find the dumpster baby, or when someone tries to buy the bar, or the DENNIS system. There's so so many good episodes to choose from (I think my all-time favorite is when they try to win the Best Bar in Philadelphia award. The satire is delicious! Or maybe the episode where we find out Mac is a secret Cowboys fan. As a Cowboys fan I will always find that hilarious!)

Goodness! I could go on about this show for forever!
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:06 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Dee (Caitlin Olsen) is one of the funniest women on television and her dedication to physical comedy is remarkable.

I'm still so bummed out about The Mick being cancelled!
posted by jason_steakums at 5:50 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


Even as a person with no connection to the show, modern dance or Sigur Ros, I still found this strangely moving.
posted by Harald74 at 6:11 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


I would never have guessed it was capable of this kind of non-ironic emotional performance (thanks for surprises of all flavors, 2018). it's always treated its characters as perpetual victims of their own ignorance, too myopic and shitty to ever grow or learn.

At the same time, if the actors/writers were unable to understand the internality and emotional heft of the characters, it seems unlikely that the show would still be good or funny after 13 years. I guess the surprising part is that they decided to go for broke and put it all out there on the screen.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:22 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Or maybe the episode where we find out Mac is a secret Cowboys fan

He's not a cowboy fan he's a Tony Romo fan and he retired so now he bleeds green GO BIRDS
posted by CaseyB at 11:11 AM on November 9 [6 favorites]


This was just amazing and beautiful. I first watched it without sound and with pauses at work. I have also watched the show off and on over seasons, but life, etc. Then, I got to see this amazing thing again with sound and uninterrupted at home this weekend. More than once.

So lovely and raw and honest. Damn, y'all, that's a lot of hard work all over the place. Thank you.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:24 AM on November 11


This thread sent me down a cry-hole of dance. This "got talent" sequence about domestic violence is worth surfacing here.
posted by abulafa at 7:33 AM on November 11


abulafa, thank you for sharing that link! I was longing to see some more emotional dance after watching the clip, but it's not an easy thing to search for. If you found any other good ones, please share!
posted by unannihilated at 7:36 PM on November 12


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