We Review It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia SN12 EP01 – ‘The Gang Turns Black’


In the season 12 premiere of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the gang is just trying to enjoy a movie. Their… um, friend Old Black Man has selected The Wiz. During the thunderstorm, the gang is struck by lightning. The next morning they wake to find that they have transformed into black people (though they only appear that way in reflections and to other people). As they often do, the gang breaks up into groups in an attempt to figure out why this has happened. Dee Reynolds and Frank Reynolds think they are in a Quantum Leap situation. They try to return Old Black Man to his home. They even bump into Scott Bakula! Mac, Dennis Reynolds, and Charlie Kelly find themselves arrested. The two teams converge when they try to have Frank’s VCR repaired, only to wind up on the wrong side of the law once again.

On paper, this premise is quite funny by itself – and it is. Even though some of the ideas about racial politics have been done. The show even acknowledges that movies such as Freaky Friday and 13 Going on 30 have done this body swap scenario. However, It’s Always Sunny puts its own spin on these things, with the gang trying fruitlessly to figure out what lesson they need to learn. Without giving too much away, their quest to figure out why this happened feels a little inconclusive. However, their inability to gain answers makes this episode funnier, especially with the way this episode pays off.

The jokes about the gang’s inability to understand black culture are gloriously politically incorrect, such as Frank thinking this is his opportunity to finally say the n-word while Mac and Dennis try to figure out who they are. Also, Charlie has turned into a child, and with that comes some pretty funny gags about childlike Charlie making the police think he lives in a bad situation.

All of this would have made a fine episode as is, but the team put it over the top by making this episode a musical. It’s Always Sunny has shown success with music. After all, who can forget Day Man (Master of karate and friendship, for everyone)? Suffice to say, the songs here are catchy – extremely catchy. Someone would have to be made of stone not to have “What are the rules?” stuck in their heads. Not only are the songs fun and catchy, but this kind of material could easily turn heavy-handed, and the songs turn this into a screwball, goofy episode.

Overall, “The Gang Turns Black” is not only a good episode, it may be one of the absolute funniest episodes. Almost every joke hits a bullseye, and the songs are catchy. The writers (credits are for creators and lead actors Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney) knew this was an out-there concept and decided to run all the way with it.

The Good
  • - Every joke hits - Catchy songs - Scott Bakula cameo - Premise goes all the way
The Bad
  • - Seriously, I got nothing for this one.

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