It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is missing five episodes on streaming services, whose absences are all due to similarly controversial scenes. Following the It’s Always Sunny blackface controversy, fans have noticed that It’s Always Sunny‘s missing episodes on Hulu and Netflix. Indeed, the series has made American TV history as the longest-running live-action comedy, but not without plenty of contentious and risky episodes along the way. For newcomers to the series, It’s Always Sunny‘s missing episodes are proof that this insane show continues to try to push the limits of what’s funny – no easy feat in the age of political correctness and cancel culture. In fact, the 15-season-long It’s Always Sunny is known as a mockery of narcissistic, immoral, sociopathic individuals, but some episodes in which the gang’s insensitivity crossed the line have led streaming services and DVD sets to remove them entirely, even if such problematic scenes were in the name of satire.
It’s not uncommon for streaming services to remove episodes after they have already aired on television, with the decisions largely coming from backlash by audience members or executives once educated on why it would be more beneficial to remove them than to keep them on. This debacle largely occurs with comedy shows, even less risqué modern ones like The Office or Black-ish. Considering It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s characters are purposefully some of the most problematic figures on television, some of their satirically horrible acts were too much for Hulu (in the US) and Netflix (in the UK) to keep on their services, leading five episodes to be removed.
While Hulu has exclusively been home to the controversial black comedy series in the US since 2017, it wasn’t until mid-2020 that the service removed the overly-problematic episodes. The installments in question are season 4’s “America’s Next Top Paddy’s Billboard Model Contest,” season 6’s “Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth,” season 8’s “The Gang Recycles Their Trash,” It’s Always Sunny‘s season 9 episode “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6,” and season 14’s “Dee Day.” Each It’s Always Sunny episode is missing for the same reason: the gang’s controversial use of blackface, brownface, or yellowface. Although the characters will sometimes call out one another’s racism, each has at one time or another shown a level of prejudice, whether willfully ignorant or not, that makes their use of the historically racist practice unsurprising.
Always Sunny Had Episodes Taken Down Over Blackface Controversies
In “America’s Next Top Paddy’s Billboard Model Contest,” the scenes that incited its removal feature Dee Reynolds dressing up as her bit character Martina Martinez, a Latina character who she very racistly portrays with brownface. “Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth” was removed because Mac uses blackface to portray Danny Glover’s character in the Lethal Weapon movies, though the gang does have an extended scene discussing how racist it is. In “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6,” both Mac and Dee extensively don blackface as they make their home-movie sequel. Dee’s racist brownface character Martina Martinez returns in “The Gang Recycles Their Trash,” leading to its removal. In 2019’s “Dee Day” episode, Dee makes the gang reenact her comedy characters, which includes Frank dressing up in brownface for Martina Martinez and Mac using yellowface to portray an Asian character.
While the gang’s use of blackface is abhorrent, many have criticized Hulu and Netflix for removing the episodes when the characters’ countless other racist, sexist, and offensive actions are still streamable. Additionally, many have recalled how It’s Always Sunny‘s show clearly condemns the actions of its characters, making it obvious how horribly ignorant, immoral, and wrong they continually are while never allowing the characters to succeed in life. As a whole, It’s Always Sunny is actually adamantly opposed to the bigotry of its main characters, with its satirical approach taking a jab at those who are while also including level-headed outsiders that explicitly condemn their actions.
However, there isn’t just one controversial blackface portrayal on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – there are at least five. While the comedy show’s use of the practice is a form of self-aware mockery, removing such episodes reminds the series that so many uses may be going overboard, even in the name of satire. The gang even bases an extremely meta “Lethal Weapon 7” episode around this in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia season 15, episode 2, “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 7.” Mockery or not, the use of blackface is offensive, and the voices of those that it inherently targets are still valid in their criticisms of the scenes.
How Did Always Sunny’s Controversies Escape Cancel Culture?
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia isn’t in the crosshairs of cancel culture for several reasons: perfect timing, how it consistently remains funny, and how it has noticeably evolved, all of which also factor into how well the series continues to connect with fans. Indeed, before It’s Always Sunny started making truly profound points and was mostly just hilarious filth, political correctness wasn’t as tuned in as it is now. Today, following the rise of cancel culture, the filth remains – in spades – but it’s also more apparent that it’s there so that viewers can point and laugh at the detritus of the human spirit. Apart from the above-mentioned episode where It’s Always Sunny mocks being censored and takes shots at Hollywood hypocrisy, this can be observed elsewhere in the show’s later seasons.
While It’s Always Sunny season 13, episode 10, “Mac Finds His Pride,” is filled with gay jokes, it’s also the long-awaited climax of Mac and his father’s story arc, a bittersweet release in which Mac embraces his true self at the cost of losing what remains of his father’s respect. Meanwhile, season 15’s “The Gang Buys A Roller Rink” finally shows their true origins, in the process revealing how Mac and Dennis have always taken advantage of Charlie, and why Charlie and Dee are the way that they are. Not every episode of It’s Always Sunny perfectly balances the line between profound and funny, but these episodes are enough to make most audiences more curious and entertained than offended. As evidenced not just by its general reception, but also by the many different and weird It’s Always Sunny fan theories that continue to crop up online, the nuance isn’t lost on the show’s fans. Although the love of the fans isn’t enough to prevent It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia from missing episodes on Netflix, it’s enough to prevent this long-running comedy from getting canceled – at least for now.
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