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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FXX hopes to draw viewers with hit shows

Published: September 20, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

In January, Fox announced that its Fox Soccer Channel would be replaced by Enter FXX. The channel’s two feature sitcoms, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The League,” are supposed to be the spearhead for the movement. FXX was introduced on Sept. 2, and these two particular shows launched just two days later on Sept. 4.
Viewers across the nation are no strangers to “Always Sunny.” Entering its ninth season, “Always Sunny” has endeared fans with its dry sense of humor and over-the-top plot. In recent seasons, however, the show has somewhat flopped. The show definitely peaked from season three to season six. Prior to season three, Danny DeVito’s likeable character, Frank Reynolds, had not yet been introduced to the humorous sitcom. With his elaborate schemes and quirky behavior, Reynolds would prove to be an integral character to the cast.
Starting with the seventh season, however, the flavor of the show was drastically altered. What previously was a calculated balance of light-hearted humor and ridiculous themes became much too extreme. Missing was some of the witty, dry humor and subtle poking of fun at the characters’ collective stupidity. This was replaced with a bevy of overly ridiculous premises and outrageous outcomes.
This transition strays away from the original intention of the show. “Always Sunny” was created by a group of friends and spouses. Thus, the various plot lines seemed to revolve around the day-to-day struggles of “the gang.” From getting into beyond outrageous situations in Atlantic City to lead character Mac somehow gaining 50 pounds, the show began to fall into a tailspin of absurdity. Gone is the “homey” feel generated by a group of friends working on a sitcom for fun and laughs. Previously a major strength of the show, subtlety was replaced by insanity.
The “Sunny in Philadelphia” premiere proved to be no different. Season nine’s kickoff starts with Dee Reynolds (daughter of Frank) in shambles. She’s sulking in the bar while smoking, drinking and eating trash. This premise is exactly the problem with the newer version of the show. It is almost as if the makers have run out of ideas to keep the hectic plotline afloat. “Always Sunny” is not known for an overall fluid plotline, but the air of creativity has been completely sucked out of the show. There is definitely a hint of negligence in the script, and the show’s identity has completely changed for the worse.
FXX’s other premier show, “The League,” entered its fifth season this year. “Always Sunny” and “The League” have similarities, yet each show’s respective design is vastly different from one another’s. The characters in “The League” seem to be more uniform than those in “Sunny,” with the former lacking a sense of individualism. In the beginning seasons, this factor definitely was a major problem as members of the audience may not have been able to differentiate the characters enough to be attached to the show.
Like a fine wine, however, the makers of “The League” have really built its product up; it has gotten better with time. Giving side characters enough time to establish identities, “The League” has improved gradually with its fantasy football-themed premise. In reality, the fantasy football theme does not always play a crucial role in the plot, but it (along with the appearance of several NFL players) keeps the show interesting.
This type of show can keep even the most casual fan entertained because it incorporates an element that many can follow: football. So how did the opening episode of season five fair on FXX? The episode takes place at a posh venue in California during Andre’s bachelor party. This is the beauty of “The League:” The episodes get better as time goes on. Once the characters were established, “The League” was able to incorporate well thought out plot twists all the while sticking to its loose premise of being a show centered on the game of fantasy football. It seemingly can’t go wrong.