Recap: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Episode 15.02 – “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 7”
Frank comes into the bar upset that the library has removed their Lethal Weapon movies, likely due to Mac’s blackface. But they all say they’ve undergone a lot of learning and growing in the past year. They might be upset about the movies being pulled, but it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie and leave both movies in the past.
They all agree that the path forward is… to make Lethal Weapon 7.
The Gang gets to work on brainstorming for the movie and they make sure it’s a movie that adheres to today’s moral and ethical standards. They recall the three blackface “mistakes” as well as Dee’s on and off-screen insensitive characters as well as Frank’s redface.
Mac says Hollywood has a clear moral code about being done after one mistake and provides Woody Allen and Roman Polanski as examples. Dennis points out that both of them actually continued to make films for 40 years after their “mistakes.” Mac offers up Bill Cosby and Dennis again points out he made about 50 mistakes, though the “mistakes” were actually violent sexual crimes.
Anyway, they have to ensure the movie is palatable to modern audiences. Frank says as long as he gets to “bang the broad.” The others don’t think that’s a good idea. He says he will settle for a hand job, otherwise he won’t be paying for the movie. Dennis says as long as it’s under a towel or blanket.
Now, they have to rethink their casting choices. Mac “magnanimously” steps down from the role of Murtaugh and he pauses a few times to give the others opportunity to praise him. He thought he deserved praise for doing something anti-racist. If not, then why is he doing it.
They quickly move on from this and get started filming the movie.
Dee plays Riggs with an Aussie accent and begins the scene by reciting directions of Los Angeles thoroughfares in order to make clear the film’s setting.
To cast Murtaugh, Charlie explains that when Frank looked under the bridge for a prostitute for his sex scene, he talked the pimp Pepper Jack into playing Murtaugh. Dennis is familiar with Pepper Jack.
The guys, however, are not sure about the way Pepper Jack is playing Murtaugh like a pimp. Dennis and Charlie tell director Mac to give Pepper Jack the note to tone it down, but he is hesitant to do so.
The scene continues with Frank’s villain character getting a hand job by the prostitute. But Frank yells Cut! and says this is not working since he really wants to bang the lady. Dennis says Frank is not supposed to actually be having sex with anyone.
Frank brings up how Marlon Brando jammed butter up his co-star’s “orifice” against her will and got nominated for an Oscar.
Anyway, Pepper Jack approaches them and asks how he’s doing. Mac feels intimidated by him and ends up telling him to do it a little bit more “Pepper Jack.” Pepper Jack likes that.
The others are frustrated that Mac didn’t give the note, but Mac says they shouldn’t be silencing black voices. Dennis points out the larger discussion here is that the only people of color they know are “of the bridges and the streets.” The fact that they’re pimps and prostitutes says more about the Gang than it does about them. So they decide they need to find more diverse voices.
Dennis calls Artemis who is a woman AND of Persian descent and perfect to be assistant director. She first wants to make clear that for compensation, she will only accept coins, cash, checks, food, vape pens, pens in general and scissors.
For the next take, Dennis has sent Dee out to lunch and replaced her with Charlie. But Charlie struggles with the Los Angeles locations.
After Artemis tells Pepper Jack to bring his own experience at a kid’s party into his performance, he includes lines about his pullout game and cutting people. Charlie goes with Pepper Jack’s flow.
The scene continues with Frank and the prostitute who points out that his dick isn’t working. Artemis suggests an anal stimulant like butter. Frank says butter doesn’t work the other way, but Mac smiles and says it does.
Pepper Jack reminds Frank that he has to pay for Candy’s services whether he nuts or not. Dennis is upset when he sees Pepper Jack pull out the Fraggle Rock thermos he took from him 12 years ago.
Dee comes back from lunch, upset that she’s been replaced.
Nothing is going well. So Dennis decides they need to shuffle the cast around and that includes casting “Don Cheadle” to be the new Murtaugh. Pepper Jack is now Riggs and he is able to channel his intensity into the character having lost his murdered wife.
The scene actually proceeds very well with Don Cheadle turning out to be a great actor.
They move on to the new villain which turns out to be Dee playing Karen White who threatens to call the police on the two black men in her neighborhood. Dennis says one of the last socially acceptable groups to villainize are entitled white women. But they all feel uncomfortable by how real and “cunty” the character is.
They realize villainizing any group of people these days can be problematic and think about non-human villains like a big dog or a stack of raccoons and bees in a trenchcoat. Mac suggests a plague or another act of God like from the bible.
They all agree on Frank’s suggestion of a tsunami, but they should call it a tidal wave so as not to imply that all waves are Asian.
For take four, they have the tidal wave call Riggs on his phone. And they make sure not to imply the wave came from any specific place nor came from any specific god.
While Artemis is sleeping, the Gang goes into the bathroom to discuss what’s going wrong. Dennis suggests Riggs and Murtaugh shoot at the wave and direct it toward a field that’s been decimated by climate change. They all think that sucks.
Dennis says this is all part of doing the right thing. In the last year, Dennis has become “woke” and he did so after realizing that all the young women he wanted to bang, whether on the left or right, are more socially active. He realized that the younger generation doesn’t even understand half the shit they’re saying and only want to be perceived as being more ethical.
Dennis has concluded that all they have to do is regurgitate what the young people say into their echo chambers. And you do that, you can get what you want. For Dennis, it’s the sex which he was able to get from the young woman he demonstrated this with.
Dennis concludes that they have to listen to the youth or they will end up having sex with only old people. And he will not have any of that.
The Gang finally knows what they have to do. They talk to Don Cheadle and say that he is the only one with the authenticity to tell this story. So they will hand complete creative control over to him…
Dennis pauses again to wait for applause. Mac points that out and Don Cheadle claps. They all high five, saying they are allies.
Fast forward to Don Cheadle’s documentary entitled White Saviors being screened in a theater. He says out of the ashes of Lethal Weapon 7, he was able to put together a cautionary tale about the dangers of staying ignorant.
The Gang is offended by how they were portrayed in the film. “What does he know about our experience?”
The Gang decides to do Lethal Weapon 8 and Mac suggests he play Murtaugh, but the others don’t think that’s a good idea.
The biggest shock of this episode is the fact that the local library actually allowed both of their movies to be made available and be displayed. Lol
But really, this episode is another one of Sunny‘s meta stories. Kind of like the one episode where they address their Emmy snubs using some local award.
For anyone who might not know, several episodes of the show have been proactively pulled from Hulu for their offensive content. So aside from this episode addressing the Gang’s (and thus the show’s) use of such offensive things as blackface and racial stereotypes, it also touched upon the greater discussion on the idea of “cancel culture” and being “woke” and pandering for applause
First for the yanking of episodes, on one hand, I can understand their response to the climate of 2021. On the other, it’s a little disappointing considering Always Sunny has always balanced being a satirical look at real issues.
This episode itself offered absolutely on-point critiques on Hollywood hypocrisy, “woke” youth, pandering and the “white savior” complex. All while pointing out valid concerns about not having diverse voices or having certain people speak on the experiences of other groups of people not their own.
Now, I’m not going to defend blackface. But one of the central themes of Always Sunny is the fact that these five people are actual assholes. Yes, they can be loveable assholes sometimes. Sure, they can make excellent, valid points other times. But many times, they’re just depraved, horrible and ignorant people. And the many times they’ve devolved into racist stereotypes, particularly the Lethal Weapon blackface, has been to show how ignorant they truly are. And in turn, people who actually think this way.
Do I laugh every time I watch Dee dressed up and acting as Martina Martinez? Absolutely. Do I also cringe at Dee putting on false teeth as Taiwan Tammy? Yes very much.
What Sunny has been able to do is not to glorify these instances of racism or inappropriate behavior by the characters. Anyone who has actually watched the show would know that, as well as know the cast is far from racist or ignorant.
Though I don’t think there has been any effort to “cancel” the show. I honestly don’t even remember any controversy popping up after any of the blackface episodes or even the one episode about the lottery scratcher where Charlie says the n-word. It’s my understanding that it’s the cast’s decision and perhaps the network’s proactive decision to acknowledge how the removed episodes might come across and just get out ahead of any potential controversy. Which again, I can understand even if I might not fully agree.
At the same time, I might not be easily offended. But I also can only be offended by things that pertain to experiences and things I am familiar with and am a part of. I always hate when a non-Asian/Asian-American person tells me what I should feel offended by. No ma’am/sir, you do not have a say in that. Just as I don’t have a say on what might be offensive to a non-Asian person. That doesn’t mean you aren’t aware of things that might be offensive in general, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Perhaps some of the uproar over certain things has to do with context. And with Always Sunny, I think they provide the right amount of context to justify their (hilarious) use of “politically incorrect” gags. Also remember, Always Sunny does these things to specifically target actual people who might be ignorant and deplorable. Not to celebrate them.
Anyway to this actual episode, it was great to have Pepper Jack back. He had a very memorable scene all the way back when. And then Don Cheadle/Tiger Woods/Donovan McNabb too. Again, more examples of Sunny being able to draw upon its world of characters. (Welcome Artemis!)
The last scene reveal harkens back to the excellent and hilarious reveal in “Flowers for Charlie” and it was great.
But overall, the episode’s meta commentary as well as being able to poke at many different groups of people is classic Sunny. And as always, they do it in the most hilarious ways.
Mac: “Fear is a great motivator to do the right thing.”
Frank: “I ain’t paying for it unless I get a hand job.”
Dee: “You don’t get praise for telling people you’re not racist.”
Frank: “It’s called acting, Dennis!”
Dennis: “I don’t want butter to get involved.”
Candy: “I don’t think your dick work.”
Dennis: “I don’t want to say that all waves are Asian.”
Dennis: “But my rational thinking and my desire for an open dialogue were a dead giveaway.”
Dennis: “See, this generation doesn’t even understand half the shit that they’re saying. They aren’t more ethical than us.”
Dennis: “Guys, we have to listen to the young. Otherwise, we are doomed to have sex with only old people for the rest of our lives and I won’t do that.”
Dennis: “Finger on the pulse, finger on the puss.”