SPOILER ALERT: If spoilers concern ye, turn away now. Consider this your final warning.
At the end of its thirteenth season, you might be forgiven for thinking that It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia has plum run out of ways to surprise audiences. And yet, thanks to yesterday’s season finale, they pulled out what might well be one of the most spectacular sequences ever conceived for any TV show ever. Much less for a balls-out sitcom.
Much of season 13 of the long-running FXX series has concerned Rob McElhenney and his deeply conflicted Mac wrestling with his sexuality after finally coming out to his Paddy’s Pub cohorts in season 12.
By and large, the gang has treated Mac’s newly-flourishing life much in the same way they do anything not directly related to themselves; as something of a comic annoyance. But just at the point where it seemed the show was set to completely veer off the rails and commit to all its cheap gay jokes, it paid off every setup in magnificent fashion.
The series finale, Mac Finds His Pride, centred on Mac enduring Frank’s attempts to have him be Paddy’s “token gay” on a Pride Float aimed at roping in more money for the bar, while Mac himself wrestles with the concept of coming out to his still-incarcerated and still-terrifying father; a first attempt at which ends in Mac’s Dad being convinced he was about to become a Grandfather.
But it’s an allegory from Frank, dealing with an increasingly grotesque and bloody broken nose, that sets the scene for the repressed and depressed Mac to steal the show.
I been in agony the whole day, but I came to this realisation that sometimes you gotta let the blood flow in order to start the healing. Some cuts you just can’t plug up. And that’s the same for you. You got this thing inside of you and you’re trying to plug it up, but you gotta let that shit out, you gotta let it flow. Otherwise, you’re gonna be in agony for the rest of your life.
From there, McElhenney – coupled with the absurdly talented Kylie Shea – unleashes a 5-minute, utterly exquisite, magnificently choreographed, completely flooring interpretive ballet set to the haunting strains of Sigur Rós‘s Varúð; one that represents Mac’s inner torture and ultimate acceptance of himself, endures the rejection of his father, and finds tragic comfort in the embrace of the divine light.
Again, we cannot stress, this is It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia starring Rob McElhenney.
And it is mind-bogglingly good.
The reaction on social media has been almost unanimous and certainly overwhelming in its praise for the scene.
— ????paige says mac rights???? (@bicharliekelly) November 8, 2018
— Maine Accent ???? (@Toddy_Blanch) November 8, 2018
— Kevin Skinner (@KevinDontDance) November 8, 2018
I hope @RMcElhenney and the rest of the @alwayssunny crew knows how much this episode means to lgbtq+ fans. It was handled so beautifully and respectfully, and was the best version of a coming out episode I’ve ever seen. Thank you. I’m so proud to call this my favorite show. ????️????
— Mary Alvarez (@alvarezmaryash) November 8, 2018
.@AlwaysSunny was something special tonight. You may think I’m joking, I’m not. Watch the episode, you’ll see what I mean. It catches you off guard, but it’s worth watching. @RMcElhenney, @KylieSheaXO and @DannyDeVito, for five mins, turned it into a drama. It was epic. #SunnyFXX
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 8, 2018
— holy hell halee???? (@the_swamp_ghoul) November 8, 2018
— Jess (@Sleepy_Viking) November 8, 2018
@alwayssunny That episode made me feel so many things,,the fact that it showed how straight people view the gay community (dee and charlie w the rainbow float) and how mac saw the idea of coming out-how scared he was, how worked up he was. well done, #itsalwayssunny @RMcElhenney pic.twitter.com/apoeWtQSKf
— sophia ???????? (@lunatarium) November 8, 2018
— sinem (@spacescully) November 8, 2018
Sunny’s cast, crew, and extended family were also overjoyed in their praise of McElhenney’s efforts in the episode.
— Glenn with two n’s (@GlennHowerton) November 8, 2018
Still in awe of @RMcElhenney and the whole Sunny crew for what they were able to accomplish in the finale. Have you seen Mac find his pride yet? ????️????????
— Megan Ganz (@meganganz) November 8, 2018
“Because love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside” ????????????️???? Still overcome w/emotion. It was an honor 2 dance this role. Thank you @RMcElhenney for everything. ???? by @Patmackster ????@alwayssunny #SunnyFXX pic.twitter.com/MstddSTtOP
— Kylie Shea (@KylieSheaXO) November 8, 2018
— Katie McElhenney (@ktmcelhenney) November 8, 2018
And, finally, Rob McElhenney himself took the time to comment on the episode – and the reaction – after it aired.
Seems like you liked it. ???? ????️????
— Rob McElhenney (@RMcElhenney) November 8, 2018
Truly, truly spectacular stuff. An absolute triumph.