“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" finally sees The Gang go to Ireland, and one spectacularly-delivered Irish language scene is a crowning achievement for the absurd hit show.
For the uninitiated, "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" follows a gang of degenerates who run the unsuccesful Paddy’s Irish Pub in Philadelphia. The gang frequently - and hilariously - leans into the worst of Irish American and Irish Catholic stereotypes, so it was only a matter of time before they actually made it to Ireland.
In "The Gang's Still in Ireland," the second episode of the gang's Irish adventure during the show's record-breaking 15th season, Charlie Kelly, played by Charlie Day, steals the show, with an assist from Colm Meaney, who plays Shelley Kelly.
A running gag on the cult hit show is that Charlie is mostly illiterate. When he and Mac, played by Rob McElhenney, are digging through books in Ireland trying to trace their Irish roots, Charlie declares: “I found one right here in this gibberish book, there’s a whole section on McDonald.”
“It’s not gibberish," Mac tells Charlie, "you just can’t read, dude."
“Well, no, I can read this,” Charlie says and he leans in over the large book and starts reading the Irish text out loud in English.
“Wait a second, this is like Irish, or Gaelic, or whatever they call it,” Mac says to Charlie, “You can read that?”
“Well, Gaelic, or Irish, is what you call the magical gibberish language that my pen pal taught me? Yes, Mac, I can.”
Turns out that Charlie's mom set him up with an Irish pen pal when he was a kid. Charlie believed his pen pal, who writes to him in "gibberish," is around his age; the rest of the gang didn't believe he existed at all.
Mac is in disbelief: “So, you’re telling me you can’t read English, but you can speak and read an entirely different language?"
“I can read it, I can’t speak it,” Charlie says. When Mac points out that that doesn’t make sense, Charlie rations that that's “the mystery of the magic."
He adds: "Plus, these are Irish words, and my mouth was made for American words.”
Another running gag on the show is that no one really knows who Charlie’s father is because his mother was fairly, eh, promiscuous back in the day. Charlie and Mac put together that Charlie’s longtime pen pal, Shelley Kelly, may actually be Charlie’s brother.
Later, Charlie and Frank, played by the inimitable Danny DeVito, venture to Shelley Kelly’s Cheese and Jellies shop in an unidentified Irish village to finally meet Shelley.
(Meaney's arrival on screen comes not a moment too soon; the "Always Sunny" portrayal of Ireland thus far had felt largely Americanized.)
Charlie is clearly confused when Shelley, who he believed to be someone around his age, is actually a bit older than him.
“Sweet Jesus,” Shelley says. “Charlie?”
“Yeah, I’m Charlie,” Charlie says, clearly trying to process.
"I'm your pen pal, Charlie," Shelley says warmly ... in Irish.
“I'm sorry, I don't understand what you just said," a confused Charlie says in perfectly accentuated Irish. "I read gibberish, but I don't speak it."
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Shelley says with a laugh. “You’re speaking it now!”
While the Irish language delivery itself would have made the episode a crowning achievement, Shelley then reveals to Charlie that he’s his father, a rare, warm moment in a show that often hinges on crass humor. (However, this fan believes this may not be the happy ending it’s being set up as - but we’ll just have to wait and see.)
Have a look at Charlie and Shelley's cúpla focail on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" here:
The gang's Irish exploits aren't done just yet - new episodes, "Dee Sinks in a Bog" and "The Gang Carries a Body up a Mountain," both debut on December 22 on FXX in the US, and on Hulu the next day.