In its 14th season, It's Always Sunny has finally lost its magic
After 15 years, it looks like the funniest show on television is finally starting to run out of ideas.
There is no existing show that you could possibly compare to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
No show is as funny, first of all. No show is as grotesque (without coming across cringey). And certainly, no show is as original.
For over 13 years, the show was the funniest thing on television, filled with brand new ideas and a sense of humour that is completely different to any other series we've ever seen.
But as all the best shows have done in the past, it too has gone stale.
A new game plan appears to have been adopted by the crew. Now seemingly devoid of fresh ideas, the writers and creators now seem to pick a subject that is topical at the minute, and go from there.
For example, from the past two seasons, you could sum up episodes by describing them as 'the abortion one', 'the suicide one', 'the global warming one'. And although you could expect them to go past the surface on these subjects like they once did, they definitely do not anymore.
Episode 5 of the most recent seasons sees the gang make a group chat, and the episode centers around their inability to communicate via text. A poor attempt at topical discussion, compared to the genius episode that saw them obsess over Facebook back in Season 7.
Last season they even did a clip show. It was clear from then that things were headed down this route.
The show trying to make a point is not a new thing. It has been political in all the right ways since its beginning, making sensible and progressive points, without jamming them down your throat.
The characters (who are all awful people) were for the most part painfully unaware of how wrong they are in almost every situation. But not anymore.
That subtlety seems to have disappeared. An episode like 'The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award' is an incredible example of amazing entertainment, while simultaneously asking the real world question of why the hell The Emmys ignored the show (and also black television shows) for so long.
But now we're not short of the characters looking down the lens and saying "See what we're doing here? This week it's an episode about gender!"
The show still has its moments, for sure. 'Dee Day' from the new season is a really good watch, and 'Time's Up For The Gang' from last season is an all-time classic, but it seems as if the show is now resorting to shock tactics in an attempt to keep the audience laughing.
From a show that was once naturally shocking and seamlessly hilarious, it now seems as though everyone involved, from the writers to the actors, are trying way too hard.
And sadly, it's not working.
The next season of the show, Season 15, will make It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia the longest-running live action sitcom of all time. A legitimately incredible achievement, and one that should see the show ride off into the sunset.
It has maintained an incredibly high standard for 15 years, and even though the quality is starting to dip, there is still time for the show to have a dignified and worthy ending.
The final episode of Season 14 shows the gang contemplating quitting the show (they're actually quitting laser tag, but we know what they mean), and teasing us with a really emotional ending. They decide that they have had a good run, they've had fun while doing it, and they've been the best for 15 years.
They leave, making room for the next big show, and it's a genuinely heartfelt moment.
Then they come back on screen, Mac says: "We're not going anywhere you little piece of shit", as they proceed to shoot a gun down (in laser tag, obviously) a child.
It's classic Sunny misdirection, but this seemed a perfect time to actually hang up the boots, and really go out on a high.
The gang has entertained us for 14 seasons, and even at its worst, it's good TV. But let's call it a day next season, and switch the lights off in Paddy's for the final time.