'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' Season 15: Rob McElhenney Addresses Controversial Blackface Episode With 'Lethal Weapon 7'

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is no stranger to controversy. The earliest episodes of the comedy involve trolling abortion rallies for dates, intentionally becoming addicted to crack and raising a baby found in a dumpster. The show satirizes hot button issues by showing Dee (Kaitlin Olson), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Charlie (Charlie Day), Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Frank (Danny DeVito) be the worst possible examples. Sometimes, though, even Sunny goes too far, and its Lethal Weapon parodies went too far.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains mild spoilers for the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 15 episode “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 7.”]

Co-creator McElhenney has expressed regret over the show’s early treatment of trans characters, for which they’ve made amends. In 2020, Netflix pulled a season 6 episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia over characters wearing blackface. A new season 15 episode addressed blackface head on. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX and streams Thursdays on Hulu.

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ waited to respond to Netflix in the show 

The episode Netflix pulled, “Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth”, includes the gang’s homemade Lethal Weapon 5. When Mac plays Danny Glover’s character, Murtaugh, he uses blackface. Hulu removed five Sunny episodes from streaming, although still has them available for paid rental. Fans defended It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for criticizing racists, not committing racism. 

There is a later episode where they make Lethal Weapon 6 which also includes blackface. For It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 15, the gang makes Lethal Weapon 7, but acknowledges Mac should never have done blackface. McElhenney said he and the writers only discussed the episode when they began the season.

“We tend not to talk about seasons of a show until we’re in the writers room because otherwise we’ll just go crazy,” McElhenney said. “It’s like if you’re constantly thinking about episode ideas, maybe we’ll make notations down, but it’s really on the first day of the writers room when we really talk about it. So when we sat down that first day, we realized that we should address this in some way.”

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ agreed about the blackface

In the episode “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 7,” the characters address the blackface controversy head on. Mac acknowledges he made a mistake on Lethal Weapon 5 while Dennis and Charlie remind Mac and Dee that they did blackface as the Murtaughs in 6 too. So the gang hires a local Black actor to play Murtaugh this time. Don’t worry, it doesn’t add any quality to the production. It’s still directed by the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang.

The real ‘Lethal Weapon’ series is way behind 

Before director Richard Donner died on July 5, he had been talking about making a Lethal Weapon 5. Lethal Weapon 4 came out in 1998. In a recent Q&A in London, Gibson announced he hopes to direct the sequel himself. Gibson became a director with 1993’s The Man Without a Face and won an Oscar for Braveheart. The It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang wishes Gibson the best. 

“I think he’s got to jump right to 8,” Day said. “5-7 are covered so he’s got to go start at 8. Unfortunately, we beat him to it.”

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