Rob McElhenney is one of the hardest-working guys in TV right now. Not only is he one of the main stars of the history-making FX sitcom, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” which is about to begin production on episodes for Season 15, but he’s also the co-creator, co-writer, director, and star of the Apple TV+ series, “Mythic Quest.” And on top of that, he took the time out of his busy day in the writers room for ‘Sunny’ to join The Playlist Podcast.
In our interview, McElhenney discusses “Mythic Quest” and how it’s handling the pandemic during its Season 2 run. Specifically, he talks about how the show threw out a complete episode and a bunch of scripts when the pandemic started in favor of starting from scratch.
“I remember, halfway through shooting [the original Season 2 premiere episode]—before we were talking about shutting down, maybe the second day of production—I remember reading the scenes and thinking, ‘I don’t really think this is up to snuff’…It kind of felt derivative of the first season,” McElhenney explained. “One of the strengths of the second season is that we basically threw all that shit out of the window.”
Of course, when you talk about McElhenney’s work, you can’t but bring up “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But you really can’t compare the characters on ‘Sunny’ with the characters on “Mythic Quest.”
“[‘It’s Always Sunny’] characters are live-action cartoons. They’re not even really human beings and they never have been,” said McElhenney. “The truth is, they’re just physical manifestations of the human id.”
“With ‘Mythic Quest,’ we wanted to create real people, but we also wanted to create difficult people,” he added. “What we’re really trying to do, on an episodic basis, is show both the positive attributes of a character and the negative attributes…We want them to feel real.”
But even though ‘Sunny’ is a live-action cartoon, as he described, the show still does seem to get called out for some inappropriate content. And recently, it was revealed that Hulu had removed some episodes of ‘Sunny,’ which included insensitive jokes. When it comes to this situation, McElhenney thinks it stems from a misunderstanding of the show and taking specific lines and jokes completely out of context.
“This is a dicey thing. Our show is satire and there is context that we are very careful to engineer in every single episode,” he explained. “If you look at some of the scenes from ‘Sunny,’ some of the quotes from ‘Sunny,’ and some of the episode titles from ‘Sunny,’ if you look at them in and of themselves, you’re going to have a hard time justifying their social relevance or whether or not they should have been made in the first place. Or maybe they belong well outside of our culture.”
McElhenney continued, “I just happen to disagree. I think that’s the whole point of the show. We’re just really keying in on so many different—sometimes fortunate, sometimes unfortunate—aspects of the human condition, and we’re going to get into really razor’s edge type stuff. And that’s always been the nature of the show. And I think our audience can recognize that.”
Specifically, when it comes to the Hulu situation, the ‘Sunny’ co-creator expresses a bit of frustration with the situation, but McElhenney knows he can’t control what happens at a corporate level.
“Yes, it’s frustrating when someone comes in and unilaterally, without really watching the episodes, pulls them,” he admitted. “But that’s not really my call. So, what I can do is make an episode about it. So, that’s what we’re doing. The first episode of [Season 15] is ‘The Gang Gets Canceled,’ and it’s going to be something in that vein.”
“Mythic Quest” Season 2 is currently releasing new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+, and Season 15 of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” will likely debut on FX later this year. You can hear our full discussion with Rob McElhenney below:
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