FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is revisiting a past controversy in its current fifteenth season.
In 2020, Netflix pulled an episode of the long-running comedy titled Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth, which included an interpretation of Lethal Weapon 5. In the episode, show creator and cast member Rob McElhenny plays Danny Glover’s character, Murtaugh, and uses blackface. A later episode offers Lethal Weapon 6, which also uses blackface.
But times change, and what was once deemed funny now is viewed differently in 2021.
McElhenney acknowleged that the show sometimes goes too far in remarks at an FX Network press conference.
“I find that my barometer is off for what’s appropriate sometimes in situations because, like, we’ve spent 15 years making a show about the worst people on the planet, and because it’s satire, we lean so heavily into this idea,” he said. “And then we are always, like, right on the razor’s edge, but that’s the only way that satire works. And then I go and do something else, and I may be pitching something, and then I realize, like, oh, it’s wholly inappropriate for the show what I’m doing because these are supposed to be real human beings, whereas, on “Sunny,” they are cartoon characters, and we can, kind of, get away with a whole lot more.”
That’s why the idea came to this season’s writing room to make up for the controversial choice to do blackface in those past episodes. Thus, this season, the gang makes Lethal Weapon 7, but uses it to acknowledge Mac should never have done blackface.
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read past this line if you haven’t seen Wednesday’s episode.
In this season’s second episode, The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 7, which aired Wednesday, the cast discovers that their self-made Lethal Weapon sequels have been pulled from the local library.
The Gang decides to address their political incorrectness by making another film — Lethal Weapon 7.
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. The solution is that they hire a local Black actor to play Murtaugh this time.
The episode was written by Keyonna Taylor & Katie McElhenney & Rob McElhenney & Charlie Day and directed by Pete Chatmon.
Of course, now that Mel Gibson has announced his intention to make Lethal Weapon 5, there’s a time discrepancy brewing.
“I think he’s got to jump right to 8,” Charlie Day said at the FX Networks virtual press conference.. “5-7 are covered, so he’s got to go start at 8. Unfortunately, we beat him to it.”