Taking Advantage of the System


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a television show on the FX network that is about a crew of five people who own and operate a bar in Philadelphia.  The main characters are extremely self-centered and manipulative, and often find themselves devising schemes for their own personal gain (even if it means jeopardizing the well-being each other).  The show has become a cult hit and is often compared to Seinfeld because of the selfish nature of the main characters.  It often uses dark and crude humor to outline some of the issues in modern America.  In fact, since the characters are so corrupt themselves, they often participate in behavior that is a direct result of such issues.  It is one of my favorite TV shows, and every time I watch an episode I can’t help but laugh out loud at the extremes the actors are willing to go to in order to get a message across.  To me, each character represents exactly what not to become and how not to act.

In the episode “Mac Fights Gay Marriage,” two of the characters, Frank and Charlie, take advantage of marital benefits.  In one of the scenes, Charlie and Frank are in the apartment they live in (Frank is the very wealthy, Charlie is not), and Charlie begins to complain about his back pains.  In the past, Frank has paid for Charlie to visit a chiropractor.  However, in this scene, Charlie comes to the revelation that if he and Frank get a domestic partnership, he can get on Frank’s health insurance plan and reap the benefits of marriage.  

In the video below, Charlie explains how he and Frank are trying to “get a gay marriage situation going on.”  This video reveals not only the nature of the show’s humor, but also the kind of schemes the characters devise (which are almost always unethical).

The clip also shows how far removed Frank and Charlie are from the real sanctity of marriage–Frank is worried about having to become a woman (again revealing how obtuse the characters can be) just so the scheme will succeed.

In this situation, two of the characters are able to take advantage of our current health insurance system by pretending to be a gay couple.  Although it is humorous to watch, the episode indicates a real issue in America today.  Although it may be difficult and tedious to prove whether or not two men are really gay, there should be a better system to prevent such situations in which people take advantage of the system dishonestly.  This episode reminded me of themovie I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, in which the characters engage in very similar behavior to Frank and Charlie.

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5 thoughts on “Taking Advantage of the System”

  1. Shows like It’s Always Sunny are important because they reach a target audience that may not otherwise be thinking of issues like gay marriage and healthcare reform. In this case, I think they are serving a similar purpose to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who reaches people of all ages through a comedic news program. In many cases, viewers of The Daily Show are getting all of their news from Comedy Central.

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  2. Based on Pat’s logic can we say that this show fills a social void? I think we can. And I’m going to. It’s Always Sunny is so funny because it is able to take real social situations and take them to ridiculously illogical conclusions. The viewer is forced to consider think more widely about society, mostly by actively rooting against the characters.

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  3. Reminds me of the episode where Dennis and Dee try to get welfare checks, pretty funny. But do you really think the viewers think deeply about the issues presented, or just laugh at the jokes and move on? I can’t imagine someone watching a show as ludicrous as It’s Always Sunny, and then have it affect their stance on any of the topics the episode may have touched on.

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    1. I don’t think it is the writers’ goal to create episodes to enact change in the system–I think they are just aiming to criticize the system. An in terms of the viewers, I think it definitely makes them second-guess their own behavior so they don’t end up like any of the show’s characters.

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  4. I always thought college rooming policies secretly allowed gay couples to co-habitate while denying this to straight couples.

    Not exactly worth the stigma, but a little silver-lining?

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