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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: “Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense”

Illustration for article titled It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: “Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense”

“Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense” takes Charlie’s (and the rest of the Gang’s) love of Law & Order, as seen in “Mac Is A Serial Killer,” and does the Sunny version of a L&O episode. This turns out to boil down to “How infuriated can Dennis look in reaction to the wanton misuse of TV-law-show buzzwords?” So infuriated. In fact, they’re so wantonly misused that it sometimes seems like everyone knows exactly what they’re doing and is trolling Dennis by yelling “I’ll allow it!” and “need a ten” and constantly passing around the judge, defense, “persecution,” and defendant hats.

I had a hard time believing that Dennis would put up being tortured for so long when, faced with a little universe in which the rest of the Gang had power and he didn’t just a couple of episodes ago, he simply destroyed the system instead of trying to beat them at their own game. Here, he could pretty easily have just ended the trial at any point by walking out and paying a couple hundo to get his car steam-cleaned, but he needed to be right. Right, goddammit!

So here, he doesn’t just erase the characters of Mac the Judge/bailiff and Charlie and Dee the lawyers; instead, he creates his own little fake-court persona and dives right into their world in pursuit of the win. But he is letting himself be mentally tortured. Gang Court is not a place where logic and debate are super useful, though Dennis and Dee seem bound by  rules that the others aren’t—they by nature want to use actual logic to argue, and you can just see Dennis getting wound up inside as he doesn’t let himself call bullshit on Mac’s assertion that he’s Paddy’s tastemaker (“Pretty much what I say goes”) and Charlie’s glue-huffing-Clarence-Darrow act.

Speaking of, yay, Competent Charlie is out tonight! It’s not so much evident in the content of the court case he’s making, but in his ability to mimic the cues of a TV or movie lawyer—the insincere surprised reaction to a paper on his own desk, the little laugh, look around the room, and “I’ll take it!” when he gets Dennis to agree that “donkey brain” is a valid term, etc., are really funny for how well he knows and can almost perfectly recreate the beats of the TV judicial system.

And Mac, too, is competent here—at least, in the same way as Charlie is, in speech delivery if not content or skill with arts and crafts. The good judge and even better bailiff takes the case on a five-minute detour through Bonkersville with his attempts to disprove evolution. It was kind of endearing that everyone immediately went “Wha?” in response to his initial, brow-wrinkled “Well, because evolution is bullshit!”—even Charlie, who has on many occasions been shown to be functionally illiterate.

Anyhow, though Dennis gets stuck in this world where he can’t win, he eventually finds a way out—passing the hot seat off to someone else. Because of course, instead of rewarding Dee for being the only one on his team (and the only one to remind him that he can’t actually take Frank to court because of his numerous outstanding warrants for sexual misconduct), when Dennis figures out that he can get out of the situation if everyone gangs up on the usual scapegoat, he instantly abandons her. If the illogical have a majority, you can’t beat them, or persuade them—all you can do is pass them off onto some other poor sucker.


Stray Observations:

  • Loved the L&O-esque double sound cue when it’s revealed that Frank is certified to not have Donkey Brains.
  • “Anyone who can’t see that is a SAVAGE and an IDIOT!” There’s not really much to that line, but the delivery is such a perfect encapsulation of the special rage of the logical being overruled by the illogical.  Ditto “I WILL SCRATCH EVERYBODY’S EYES OUT OF THEIR SOCKETS!” and Dee’s closing “YOU SONS OF—GOD DAMMIT.”
  • Though the hosts are different, the radio show about composting that Dennis is listening to when Frank hits him strikes me as a reference to WHYY’s You Bet Your Garden—it’s just that monotonically boring. “Oh, Sandra—you dumb bitch.”
  • Everything comes back to the destruction of Dee’s many cars. Precedent! “I AM GOING TO DESTROY EVERYTHING YOU OWN!”
  • Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day have both been on L&O for real.
  • Coke-bottle lenses on Frank’s glasses are looking particularly thick at the beginning of the episode.
  • Uh, so according to Mac’s posterboard, apes may or may not have evolved into sexy, shirtless male models.
  • Nobody can make eating a bowl of cereal in a car sound like a reasonable thing to do like Glenn Howerton.
  • There’s a customer in the bar, for once—the way he occasionally sits in the background of the mock-trial shots not paying attention then abruptly rolls out halfway through the episode kind of feels like a rebuttal to questions about how Paddy’s stays in business when the Gang’s never there and when they are, there are no customers. Answer: “Just repeat to yourself: It’s just a show, I should really just relax.” (Mac’s Tommy Bahama shirt agrees: RELAX.)
  • So, I’m not requesting this show again—my opinions don’t seem to match up with those of the audience, and it’s become pretty clear that the community for Sunny here is looking for more of a, “Yes! That’s exactly what I thought!” experience. But seriously—I do hope the commenters who still regularly come around these parts will consider being a bit more civil to whomever Todd talks into doing season nine when they inevitably say something that you don't like, because otherwise you’re gonna end up with another person who, halfway through the season, no longer looks forward to Thursdays. That said, it’s been an experience—later, bitches!