'Always Sunny' Clip Show Beats 'Rick and Morty' at Its Own Multiverse Game
Dennis Reynolds is the new Rick Sanchez.
Rick and Morty pretty much dominates the TV landscape when it comes to depictions of far-out concepts like multiple dimensions and alternate realities — at least in the adult comedy genre. But leave it to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to dip its toes into stoner philosophy for a single episode and put Rick and Morty to shame.
That’s what happened in Always Sunny’s recent episode, “The Gang Does a Clip Show,” which took the hated sitcom staple and turned it into a canvas for a discussion about shared realities and how easily they can shatter. What begins as a simple clip show (framed by an iPhone software update that forces everyone to put their phones down and reminisce for 30 minutes) quickly leaps off the rails as various members of the gang distort their memories to suit their own preferences.
That’s how we get this version of Frank with a full head of hair and long legs. (Presumably, that’s how he pictures his ideal self?)
And a perfect recreation of a classic Seinfeld scene (with two Jerrys!). Check out this video, which syncs up the original and the Always Sunny version to show just how similar they really are.
This leads to the realization that the gang is actually remembering Seinfeld, not their actual lives. However, they did apparently perform their own reversed version of “The Contest” after watching that episode with pretty gruesome results. That leads to another flashback, after which Dennis notes the doctor they just remembered is a figment of his imagination from the “The Gang Saves the Day” (another episode that plays with the concept of perception in a much more straightforward way).
We also see Charlie remembering that time he put on a musical (“The Nightman Cometh”), except he’s speaking in Chinese, along with several versions of Dennis’ dramatic goodbye at the end of last season in which other members of the gang keep inserting themselves into his memory.
By the end of the episode, no one can be sure what’s real and what isn’t, and every time they get close, another fold in the Always Sunny multiverse reveals itself — whether it’s something as simple as Mac and Dennis no longer being roommates or a second Charlie peeping through the bar door to spy on the first one.
It’s the type of multi-dimensional shenanigans we’re used to seeing on Rick and Morty, but they feel somewhat out of place in a show like Always Sunny. In 13 seasons, the gang’s adventures have taken them to some pretty far-out places, from a body-switching discussion of race in America to the belief that all life is just a “turtle’s dream in outer space.”
With “Clip Show,” however, Always Sunny takes things a step further, calling into question the very fabric of reality in a way that only shows like Rick and Morty often do.
“How you remember something becomes reality,” Dennis says in an attempt to course correct as those early memories start to blur and break.
It’s the kind of line that Rick Sanchez would laugh at. Reality is reality and another else is just an equally real alternate reality. But for feeble humans, just a taste of the multiverse would likely be enough to break our brains completely. Always Sunny channels that idea perfectly, walking its characters right up to the line of total insanity before it bails them out at the last possible second with an iPhone notification.
The iOS update is finally finished, and everyone can escape back into a more pleasant reality: their smartphones.