Terry Morrow: Often dark, 'Sunny' pushes envelope like no other series

Mac (Rob MacElhenney) and Frank (Danny DeVito) are never on the right trail on "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia."

Mac (Rob MacElhenney) and Frank (Danny DeVito) are never on the right trail on "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia."

"It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" is so wrong that it's right.

In the Knoxville market, according to FX ratings research, "Sunny" is must-see TV for the traditional college-age male demographic. That's quite a feat since most college guys say they don't watch TV and don't care to.

"Sunny" has always managed to walk a delicate line between being edgy without going overboard. It's a skill that shows like "Tosh.0" and "The Soup" manage as well, with varying degrees of success.

"South Park" and "Family Guy" make no pretense about that line. They cross it proudly and are downright offensive but funny nonetheless. Underneath that, they are also lined with a bit of racism, sexism and almost any other "ism" in sake of a laugh. This can give the audience a means to justify their prejudice.

The opener, titled "Pop-Pop: The Final Solution," has Sweet Dee and Dennis (Kaitlin Olson and Glenn Howerton) deciding whether they should pull the plug on their grandfather, who was a Nazi. To decide, they visit an animal shelter to see dogs put down. Dee and Dennis can't stomach that either.

Meanwhile, Mac, Charlie and Uncle Frank (Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Danny DeVito) raid grandpa's apartment to look for his Nazi treasure.

The line is drawn, and, surprisingly, "Sunny," now in season eight (10 p.m. Thursdays, FX), uses topicality without taking sides.

Topics ranging from abortion to racism to abandoning babies have all been the launching pad for "Sunny" hijinx. Those taboo subjects are backdrops for mining comedy, not a platform for message making.

Comeuppance comes without enlightenment. Stupidity is not rewarded. "Sunny" is righteous in its mocking.

Score: 3 stars (out of five)

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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