It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia began it’s ninth season this month on new network FXX. Four episodes in and it’s clear that the gang from Paddy’s Pub is just as dysfunctional as fans have come to expect. Executive producer and writer, Glenn Howerton, who plays Dennis Reynolds, held a phone conference to talk about the show’s new season.
Seeing as last season’s opener played up a significant prop from Charlie and Frank’s apartment (a dog painted by Hitler), I wondered about something viewers can spot in Dennis and Mac’s home:
Lauren Damon: I love the fact that there’s a prominent Hulk hand on the TV in Dennis and Mac’s apartment. Is that Dennis’s, Mac’s, or is it just because everyone has anger management problems?
Glenn Howerton: “I don’t know whose that is. I mean, that’s one of those things where early on in the series we had a set decorator, they decorated the apartment to have all this stuff in it, and we just never changed it. So, really, a lot of those things weren’t deliberate decisions at all. The only deliberate decisions we’ve made, in terms of our apartment, were probably when you go into Mac’s room and you see that it’s pretty sparse, and there’s just this crucifix on the wall, and like a picture of his dad. But, all that stuff, it’s just ridiculous because now, us being in like our mid-thirties, it looks like the apartment that, you know, two 19-year-olds would share together, which I actually think is kind of funny.”
Accidental Hulk hands aside, Howerton did reveal in a recent Reddit AMA that he would be interested in playing The Riddler from Batman if given the opportunity.
Have you ever pursued or been pursued, for any of those big budget superhero films?
Howerton: “Not really… Let’s see, I think ten years ago, I auditioned for the Superman reboot, and that was about like two years before that actually came out, the one with Brandon Routh. But, that was before Sunny. And then, I did audition recently for the Guardians of the Galaxy, to play the role that Chris Pratt is playing. I know that the director of that movie, supposedly, is a big Sunny fan, which is cool. But, usually, they’re already looking for some giant movie star to play those roles.
I certainly don’t have anything against doing something like that. I have to admit, I really do enjoy playing bad guys, and extremely evil people, which is why it’s a lot of fun for me to play Dennis, or at least the challenge is making Dennis, you know, likable even though he’s such a despicable person. I think playing something like The Riddler would definitely feel like it was in my wheelhouse.”
LD: One of my favorite things about Dennis, is that he such an incredible sociopath kind-of character, and I was wondering if you could talk about what do you think are some of the creepiest things he’s done in the series, and is there anything we can look forward to him getting up to in the rest of this season?
Howerton: “You know, it’s a funny question for me to try and answer because we do work very, very hard to—I guess you could argue that things like having the conversation about ‘the implication’ is pretty dark [from the season 6 episode “The Gang Buys a Boat”]. But, it’s weird, I get a little bit defensive about that, because in a way, for as dark as it is, I think the character does make it very, very clear that he wouldn’t ever actually hurt these women. He just wants them to think that the possibility of them getting hurt is there, so he can get his way. It’s still dark, but I’d say that’s one of the darker things.
Last season, in order to stay in character as playing this Ryan LeFevre personality that Dennis was playing, I almost—well, not me, but my character almost had sex with, like, a small Asian caddy, just to see how far he would be willing to take this whole thing. So, yes, he’s definitely come very close to crossing some lines that you don’t really recover from, but, yes, there’s definitely going to be some more of that this year. It’s sort of the nature of the character at this point.”
Howerton’s discussion came not only the morning after the primetime Emmy Awards, for which Sunny continued to be inexplicably unrecognized, but also on the heels of the season’s third episode “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award” which saw the gang attempt to conform to ‘normal’ restaurant standards to impress the TV-Academy-like Philadelphia restaurant association. Watching Paddy’s Pub trying its hardest to conform to standard sitcom hangout tropes (Bright lights! Sassy quips!) was painfully hilarious and begged the question, what did Howerton think of actual “Best Comedy” winner, Modern Family?
Howerton: “Well, to be honest, I haven’t seen a ton of episodes of Modern Family. But, the episodes I have seen, I think are great. Because I work in comedy, I actually don’t enjoy watching most comedies just because it’s hard for me not to just sort of analyze it, break it down structurally, and be overly critical of it, you know what I mean? Not for any other reason other than it’s what I do for a living. I just don’t watch a lot of stuff.
But, the episodes I have seen of Modern Family, I’ve really enjoyed. I think it’s a great show and I think it’s very, very difficult to consistently make a funny show on a network, A, because you have more restrictions, and, B, because you have to do more episodes per year. I’m always very impressed by the fact that I’ve never watched an episode of that show where I wasn’t laughing consistently from start to finish, and I think that’s a hell of an achievement…There are other shows that have won multiple Emmys, and I won’t name any names, where I simply don’t understand why, and I would not put Modern Family in that category at all. I think that’s a very funny, smart show.”
Why don’t you guys get Emmy love?
Howerton: “I’m the wrong person to ask. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if you saw the last week’s episode, but we did an entire episode, essentially, about that. I’m not really entirely certain, all I’ve got are theories, and I’d be happy to spout them for you, but I don’t really know. I mean, I think first impressions are huge in this business. I think we started as a very, very small show, and I think we looked so low-budget and FX wasn’t known for comedies, and I don’t think people really paid any attention to us. We didn’t have Danny [DeVito] on the show, and I think because it took so many years for it to grow its audience, it just, I don’t know.
I think that first impression of a low-budget, we-don’t-need-to-pay-attention-to-this-small- cable-comedy thing kind of stuck. It seems like, though, the Emmys, in general, they really love cable dramas. But, they don’t really seem to love cable comedies. I could be wrong; I don’t pay that close attention to it.”
Probably some of the biggest news for this season actually involves huge cable drama Game of Thrones. Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss came on board this year to do one episode titled “Flowers For Charlie” Howerton elaborated on how that came about:
Howerton: “They are actually massive, massive fans, and I think they just floated the idea that they had an idea for an episode, and they really wanted to write one, and we just thought let’s just see if that could work. It’s really the only time where somebody from outside of our ‘organization’ has successfully written an episode, I’ll put it that way. We took them through the process, and gave them the best shot. We actually brought them into the room and broke the episode with them, and sent them off to write a draft, sort of incredibly shocked that they would even have the time or the energy to do it. They came back with a great episode. We, of course, did what we always do, and we had to do some re-writes, but really not that many. It was pretty solid.”
Can you share with us any upcoming guest stars?
Howerton: We’ve actually got Seann William Scott; he’s going to be in an episode. Dude is super fun, super funny. We’ve also got Josh Groban doing an episode; I think the week after that. We’ve got a lot of fun people. Then, of course, we have a lot of our recurring cast, the McPoyles, and Artemis, the Waitress. We’ve also got Mary Lynn Rajskub from 24, she is going to be back of the show this year [as fan favorite ‘Gail the Snail’], too.
Finally, of course the big question is how much more Always Sunny can viewers expect?
Howerton: “We are definitely going to do one more after this, which I’m sure you know, and then it’s being tossed around the idea of doing more. It is a question mark, but we’ll see. We’re still having fun, I can tell you that.”
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs every Wednesday at 10pm on FXX.
FXX launched on September 2nd and specific cable listings for the new network can be found on GetFXX.com