There is a giant crucified Jesus hanging in Paddy's Irish Pub. Charlie (Charlie Day) thinks it's too big. Mac (Rob McElhenney), on the other hand, doesn't think it's big enough. He wants every patron's eyes drawn to it. It should be a part of every conversation. It should consume the room. "Okay," Charlie reluctantly agrees, "But no more blood, okay?"
Mac has spent the better part of the afternoon splashing down Jesus' porcelain white skin with red paint in preparation for Diandra's (Kaitlin Olson) Baby Funeral. There is something different about Mac. He has gained fifty pounds since we last saw him. He is huge. But the decorations in Paddy's prove to be a distraction from his own personal health issues. There are a number of folded chairs set up in front of a pulpit. One or two crusty regulars sip beer and wait for the upcoming memorial service that is about to be played out in a tax fraud scheme. A Scottish bagpipe player squeezes out a tearful dirge next to a giant poster of a baby. Its epitaph reads, "Barnabas Reynolds, 2010 - Too Soon."
Frank (Danny DeVito) and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) stand at the bar, casually sipping beers. Frank gives Dennis a cockeyed, offsetting grin, "This is dark." Dennis agrees, "Yes, Frank. This may be the darkest thing we've ever done." Unfazed by his own acknowledgement of the wrongness that is playing out in his disreputable establishment, Dennis leaves Frank to greet the Tax auditor at the door, where he proceeds to tell the woman, "Barnabas is now goofin' up stairs with the big guy."
Dennis is right. This may be the darkest thing that the gang has ever pulled off in their seven-year stint behind the bar of Philadelphia's least recognized drinking establishment. Though, as Danny DeVito describes it, "It's fun dark."
'The Gang Throws a Baby Funeral' will both put to rest the pregnancy story thread that ran throughout most of Season 6 last year, as well as comment on our country's current tax issues. Charlie Day explains why they had to explore Dee's character arc of being a surrogate mother one last time, "We did so much baby stuff last year, we were trying to figure out how to deal with it again this year. At first, we weren't going to deal with the baby thing at all. But then we thought it would be funny to put the baby thing to rest once and for all with a baby funeral. Then, just through our own process, the story became a little different. At first, it was just so that Dee would stop talking about babies, or doing any sort of baby thing. We just wanted her to move on."
The original apex of this episode explored Dee's post-partum depression, which was brought on by having to give up her baby. But through the usual process of kicking an idea around in the "Sunny" writers' room, it soon took on a life of its own and became something else entirely. "We are playing with that larger issue of what is going on with the government, and what is going on with our money when we give it to the government. And the people we elect to do things with our money. We are playing with that in this episode." Offers Glenn Howerton. Charlie Day continues this thought, "It is also about the parallel of how the government and the people communicate with one another. In an effort to communicate, communication often breaks down. It also says nothing, too."
This particular episode will cease any and all baby talk inside Paddy's Pub. Reallife husband and wife Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson don't plan on having another child anytime soon, either. If they do happen to get pregnant, Charlie doesn't believe it will be addressed within the confines of the show a second time, ""Honestly, I think we would just put Kaitlin in the Green Man suit and CGI in a normal body rather than have to deal with that in the writers' room again."
The Season 6 pregnancy called for an open narrative that spread throughout last year's entire thirteen episode run. A similar thing is happening with Season 7, only this time, Mac (Rob McElhenney) is pregnant with a giant food baby. The actor has gained more than fifty pounds, which will be a pysical attribute carried throughout the duration of this coming season. Glenn Howerton offers some insight into this connective tissue, "There is some serialized storytelling this year. Because of Rob's weight. There isn't a tremendous amount. We were forced to have that type of storytelling in Season 2, when we brought in Danny. It was never something we wanted to do, but introducing his character forced us to do that. And we enjoyed it. It's definitely challenging in a different way than doing what we normally do. Having each episode be its own individual story is challenging in a different way. You have very little time to wrap everything up. I like both styles of storytelling."
Danny DeVito enjoys this type of serialized storytelling, "Its kind of cool to have holdovers, even if the show as a whole isn't a direct serialized sort of thing. You just play back to the things you've done in the other shows. That is kind of funny. We go back and mention my whore wife, and the fact that she is dead. We rejoice in stuff like that. We get the continuum. That is nice."
Now let's address Rob's weight gain. Why would an actor take this upon himself? Was it sympathy weight gained while his wife Kaitlin was pregnant? If so, he's not admitting that fact. Instead, he saw it as a necessary character trait that could only be funny, "I was watching a popular sitcom, and I noticed how the actors were getting better looking as it progressed. I had never seen a sitcom in which the actors got worse looking. Which is a lot truer to life. And the lives that these characters lead. Here is a character that is always talking about putting on mass. All he does is eat shit and drink beer. He would eventually look like this. I thought that would be an interesting experiment. It seems to be working out."
"It has been disgusting watching him pursue this venture," Charlie Day admits. "Glenn and I were on the fence about it, just for his own personal health and safety. But it has definitely made Mac funnier. Because he still thinks he has the body of an Adonis. Everyday, (he's) been eating these ice cream, protein-filled shakes."
Pictures of Rob have been embargoed until the debut of Season 7 in the Fall, which may set your mind reeling, "Jesus, how big did Mac actually get?" Danny DeVito answers that question honestly, "He is huge now. The other day I went over to their house for dinner, and he was playing with the baby. I was afraid, man! There's this big monster whale ass cuddling with the baby. Tickling him and squeezing him. The kid looked like a goddamn pine nut compared to (him!)" What has been the method to Rob McElhenney's madness? "Eat! He is just eating! Cake! He always has something in his hand. He's always eating. Its ridiculous. You turn around, and he has a cupcake. You turn around, and he has a burrito, a chimichanga!"
Rob isn't worried, though. He will return to his normal size in Season 8, "My liver wouldn't be able to take it. I think (the weight is) going to fall right off. I have a lot of confidence. (I will miss) the gluttony of not having to think about it. Eating what I like. Drinking (what I like). Right now I am sucking on a sugar cube just to keep my blood sugar up. It's a fulltime commitment."
Frank is going to have his own fulltime commitment this fall as he pursues marriage in an ode to Julia Roberts and Richard Gere's most iconic romance, "We wrote an episode that is a realistic version of Pretty Woman. Frank proposes to a prostitute. It's the real life version of what that might look like." Glenn Howerton continues, "We had an idea for Frank deciding that he wanted to lock this one whore down. He would continue to pay her, but marry her. It was funny to us that this was the plot of Pretty Woman, but if it were real, what would really happen in that situation." Waiting's Alanna Ubach will play the whore in question, and Frank's Honeymoon might find them traveling to that fist-pumping local made so infamous by MTV.
"Oh, yeah! We are going to the Jersey Shore!" Charlie Day says enthusiastically. Danny DeVito is quit happy about this, especially after such recent planned road trips have not worked out well for the gang, "Yes, we are going to make it out of Philly!"Glenn Howerton jumps in, making sure we know that Frank and his new whore wife won't be locking horns with Snookie or The Situation, "I promise you, we worked very hard to make an episode where the characters go to the Jersey Shore, and its not an episode about those people from Jersey Shore. We wanted to put a different spin on it. We wanted to put our spin on it." Charlie Day continues, "It will be a refreshing, different look at the Jersey Shore itself. I won't say that there won't be some tanning going on, and some bejeweled clothing. Those guys are too easy of a target."
One thing we won't be seeing on Season 7 are the guys from Jackass, who were originally set to appear in an episode that would have revolved around the boys taking the gang to court. The decision to drop them from the Season 7 roster had absolutely nothing to do with Ryan Dunn's recent passing, which hit the cast and crew pretty hard, as they were all friends with Dunn. No, the decision came much earlier in the writers' room, when they realized they simply didn't have the budget for this particular episode.
"We had to push that episode, Unfortunatly. They were actually fine with doing it. It was the episode itself. It got a little too expensive." Explains Glenn Howerton. Rob McElhenney continues, "It was just a really big episode. And we thought, instead of having to cut things out of the script, we will just push it to next year, where we'll have the budget we want."
Charlie Day offers a hint of the storyline, "Everyone pictures those guys as maniacs who do that stuff all the time. And they come into our bar because they figure, if they go in there, they will get a little peace and quite. Thinking it's a fun prank on them, we savagely beat them to the ground. Then we get in a big nasty lawsuit with them. But you'll have to wait until our potential season 8 to see that." Going the cheaper route, the gang isn't without a good, honest idea to replace the void left by the Jackass crew, "We are (instead) attacking the media for sensationalizing everything. With 2012 coming up, we are tackling the apocalypse and super storms. Climate change. General frenzy."
And general frenzy includes a knock against Eden Wood, "We have one about a child beauty pageant." Glenn Howerton is genuinely excited for this particular episode, "The biggest challenge...It took us a long time to figure out how we were going to do this...We needed to figure out how and why all of these characters end up throwing a pageant. We didn't want to do something where everyone was like, "Oh, they decided to throw a kids' pageant." That is fucking ridiculous. So we had to figure out something. I don't know if I want to give away why..."
Charlie Day is quick to cut him off, "No! Don't give it away..."
Glenn agrees that you should just wait and watch the episode for yourself, "I think it's a good joke in the opener on as to how it happens. Suffice it to say, we end up throwing a kids' pageant."
"And we get kids because they have parents who like to leave their kids in these types of situations." Charlie adds begrudgingly, "Yeah, 'We're going to leave our kids alone in your bar? Absolutely! Is there a crown involved? Let's do it!'" Kaitlin Olson is quick to retort, "Pop those fake teeth in. Shut up!"
The gang isn't above selling themselves out, either. With past merchandising successes like Kitten Mittens and the Dick Towel, you can be assured that there will be another new Sunny product to shill this year. And its called: Chardeemacdennis! A singular board game that crams all of your other favorite board games into one! This fun new toy is actually the gateway into an episode the gang has wanted to do for quite sometime.
Glenn Howerton gives the backstory, "We talked about doing a whole episode that takes place in the bar this season. We hadn't really done a whole episode where the entire thing takes place inside the bar. We actually have an episode where it's kind of a rainy day. They don't know what to do with their day. They are kind of bored. They end up busting out this old game they invented a million years ago called Chardeemacdennis." Charlie Day explains it better, "They just mashed their names together. It was pre-Frank."
"The game is, we just mashed all of our favorite games into one. There are elements of Trivial Pursuit. Elements of Pictionary...It's a wild drinking game. The whole episode is of us playing a round of Chardeemacdennis. It all takes place in the bar. It is pretty fun. And its fun to play." And you can expect a couple of cameos stopping by Paddy's as well. Charlie Day is welcoming one of his Horrible Bosses co-stars back for a second go, as well as a few others, "Jason Sudeikis is back for a quick thing. We got Jon Polito, who is a great character actor. He comes in and plays Frank's long lost brother. The Kings of Leon make a brief appearance."
Glenn Howerton corrects his co-star, "It's not that brief. They're in the whole thing. They had that whole thing with Glee, where the show wanted to use one of their songs. It turns out they are not huge fans of Glee, but they are huge fans of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Ironically enough, the episode they are in has elements that are Glee-esque. Who else do we have? Lance Reddick is going to be in the same episode that Jon Polito is in."
Rob McElhenney teases, "There is another really big one that we're not allowed to talk about yet. It's a surprise one we will announce later this season.
It's a pretty famous guy. It's not going to knock you socks off, but you'll recognize the name." The gang offers this hint, it's not Barack Obama, nor is it Danny DeVito's good friend, musician Mike Patton, whom they've tried to get on the show for a while.
Who is this big secret star that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has nabbed here in Season 7? Well, you'll just have to wait and see when the series returns to FX this September. In the meantime, stay tuned for an exclusive chat with the Paddy's Pub gang, as well as exclusive content coming soon from Comic Con 2011. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 7 airs this September.