The latest and last episode of season sixteen of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" had the writers and cast taking on the system. Fans who have been watching since at least season eleven know that the gang has been turning the last episode of the season from a dark slapstick sitcom into more of a heartfelt, kooky dramedy.
In my opinion, the best season finale episodes were "Mac Finds His Pride," "Waiting For Big Mo," and now, "Dennis Takes a Mental Health Day."
It was intensely relatable, with an incredible storyline crafted by Ross Maloney, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney. The leads brought their usual A-game, but Glenn Howerton is the one who pulled you into the episode and made your stress level react to each of Dennis' string of mishaps.
The finale featured amazing guest performances that worked well with Howerton's scenes. Supporting guest stars included Phil Abrams (Doctor), Iris Liu (Susan, Car rental), Alice Kors (Barista Cashier), Jeremy Denzlinger (Police Officer), Michael James Johnson (Phone Store Clerk), Anthea Neri Best (Tsuma Receptionist), and Timothy Davis-Reed (Brandon Tsuma Executive). Casting has always been one of the show's strong suits since the first episode premiered in August 2005.
That's right, 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' will be celebrating its 18th year very soon.
If anything, this recent season proves that should the cast choose to keep the show going, 'It's Always Sunny' could dethrone Lassie and maybe even Grey's Anatomy for the longest-running series.
The original Lassie ended with 19 seasons in March of 1974, and Greys is returning, but there has been some talk about it possibly ending after its 20th season. It's Always Sunny has already broken the record for the longest-running sitcom. These guys are just crazy enough to try for the longest-scripted series.
"If I'm chronically having high blood pressure, it's because I'm chronically suffering fools who won't listen to me when I say that I can do things." - Dennis Reynolds
Dennis Takes a Mental Health Day follows Dennis, who, after having had a physical, the doctor informs him that he has high blood pressure. Refusing the doctor's advice to take medication, he decides to take a day away from The Gang to de-stress at the beach. But like in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, getting from A to B is 'not so easy' when life has other plans for you. Call it karma for the guy who invented The D.E.N.N.I.S. System.
Back at his apartment, Dennis is setting up an activity tracker to record his heart rate when he gets a call from the rest of the gang asking whether or not their position above or below sea level would allow them to use a pressure cooker. Highlighting that first little stress trigger that comes from having friends and family. Dennis cuts them off mid-group-argument and says, "I'm calling mental health day."
Dennis doesn't know that just like the invisible force 'Death' from the Final Destination movie, "The System" becomes this entity determined to ruin his plans for peace and relaxation. Or is that just me and how I look at the system?
And with every encounter, from the barista to the police officer and the Tsuma customer service agent, the activity tracker beeps, alerting Dennis and the viewers to the presence of 'The System.' "I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at The System." He repeats (as we all have), over and over again, to those poor underpaid employees offering limited customer service solutions because "The System won't let them" do more. I won't vent here, but, oh boy, I was stressed watching this episode.
What gives this show it's staying power is the executive producers, writers, and cast (no matter how successful the show has been) have maintained a strong connection with its viewership because of their ability to read the room.
The gang has never perfectly solved any of society's issues, but they have always offered interesting discussions and points of view. In the episode titled 'The Gang Solves The Bathroom Problem,' they didn't come up with a flawless resolution. However, they did reach a consensus that while in the bathroom we are all the same "filthy animals."
Dennis loses his cell phone and can't operate his electric car without it, so he rushes to the store to get a new one. He's told that the replacement won't be available until next week. Moreover, the phones available in the store are exclusively for new customers.
"It's just how The System works." Making it the fourth time that Dennis has had a run-in with "The System." And he knows it. "That System. I've been running up against it all day," (he said to the increasing beeping sounds heard from the activity tracker).
In the end and after (a very painful to watch) phone conversation with Daisy, the Tsuma customer care agent, Dennis decides to take his complaint straight to the person in charge. And in a not-so-surprising turn of events ends up at the beach, at the Tsuma exec's beach house. Where Dennis (with the song Listen To Your Heart by Roxette, playing to a beautiful sunset-drenched backdrop) removes the guy's heart and, with all that anger, squeezes the bloody heart into a large diamond, which Dennis swallows.
With the task completed, viewers learn that we never actually left the medical office, and we discover that his doctor's name is Tsuma. All the characters Dennis dealt with were people he passed in the waiting room before the physical. I have read a few reviews and opinions about this episode, all understandably different. But for me, this episode wasn't about solving a problem.
While I might not have grasped all the crucial points, I am confident that the showrunners, writers, and cast would be pleased knowing that, as a fan, I gained something valuable from watching this episode. And that is, 'The System' is shitty, and the stress of dealing with it will kill you, so "listen to your heart" (and your doctor), or it's goodbye.
Glenn Howerton and the writers deserve a Standing Ovation for this episode.
Thanks for making it this far, and if you watch this It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia episode (Dennis Takes A Mental Health Day: S16 E8), comment below and let me know your thoughts.
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