In a season that - so far - hadn’t forced Always Sunny into new territory, ‘Being Frank’ is an astonishing departure in pretty much every way for the show.
Opening from Frank’s perspective and forgoing the traditional credit sequence, things are immediately jarring and the innocent, childlike music accompanying the credits creates an unusually tranquil tone. As the episode gets underway, we are thrown into a day in the life of Frank, trying to keep up with one of the Gang’s schemes.
Being that deeply rooted in a character’s perspective is unusual for this show (‘Charlie Work’ is the only other comparable episode that comes to mind) and as a result we are presented with an unusually sympathetic character portrait as moments like Frank struggling to remember Dennis’ name are actually a little heart-breaking and reveal real moments of humanity.
This is very much Frank’s episode but the rest of the Gang get some good moments too, and Mac’s confession that he just wants Dennis’ approval is touching. Even though it’s outright ignored by Fran,k it shows that this episode is willing to explore uncharted areas for these characters. The rest of the episode follows suit as the usually-bubbly Artemis tries to introduce Frank to her parents, Bill Ponderosa almost kills himself, and Frank completely blanks a mention of a tumor at the doctors. From a show that is often emotionally detached from all people, this episode has rare moments of connection.
Things escalate towards the end of the episode and a drug-fueled hallucination sees Frank get beat up by a gang. When he wakes up inside an impound lot, he finally learns of the plan to recover Dennis’ car. Frank manages to get the car and uses the old ‘Dee is a bird’ insult to hide his ignorance of the entire day from the Gang.
As things end on a game of Nightcrawlers between Frank and Charlie, it’s at once ridiculously weird and kind of sweet. We’re yet again reminded of the freedom afforded to a show with eleven seasons and the confidence of the writers to attempt (and successfully execute) something so unusual and ambitious for a 20 minute sitcom.
Maybe the most formally inventive episode of Always Sunny yet and a welcome reminder that the show is still able to push boundaries so far into its run.