From just a glimpse, I can tell you this… This show, which premiered its seventh season with a parody of Pretty Woman, is so sadistic, it makes your morals hurt. Like a toothache for your conscience.
It’s that same feeling you get when you watch a really mean-spirited Seinfeld episode, except the overall misanthropy is ratcheted up to 11.
I’ve been watching a lot of network comedy premieres lately that are trying to be “raunchy” but also not trying to lose a mass audience (I’m looking at you new NBC comedy Free Agents, not that I didn’t like you, just sayin’…), and it can be a bit awkward to see them strain for those belly laughs that you get from watching messed up people mess up in incredibly messed up ways without really… committing. To really do that, you just need to go for broke, put up the warning that this comedy is only for mature audiences, and kill a fictional hooker.
Which is why I’m happy to see that Sunny exists. Here is a show that is willing to throw away its inhabitions and make a character you’ve liked for years into a crack addict or a prostitute or morbidly obese for an episode or two, continuity be damned, because… well, because it can be funny. Empowering? No. Morbidly hilarious? Chyah.
My favorite thing. The way Danny Devito says “whore.” “Hoor.” Ha.
What I thought would be my least favorite thing: a punchline about Tiger Woods that felt forced… until the episode brought that punchline full circle by bringing a fake Tiger/foot fetishist into the plot.
Most surreal thing: Seeing Charlie vomit blood, over and over, a sight that went from horrifying to funny to horrifying again to completely hilarious each time it played out.
I didn’t think Sunny, a show I’d never seen a minute of before was winning me over until all the plot strands came together just like you remember them coming together on Seinfeld: everyone spends thirty minutes losing a little piece of their soul on their own Sisyphean quest until everyone’s quest brings all the character’s into the same sphere again for the payoff. Here the payoff is great, as everyone’s storybeats play off each other at an insanely fast pace. You forget Charlie is covered in blood until he brings it up at the best possible moment: the “hoor” is dead, and the gang wants to call 911, but Charlie suggests they just leave her outside and call it in anonymously because she has died in Charlie’s apartment, and generally men covered in blood with dead hooker’s in their apartment do not call the cops over. You forget the gang is craving crack cocaine until they ask whether the dead hooker has any on her. And you forget that the group self-referentially made this about mimicking the heartwarming Julia Roberts-as-a-hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold film Pretty Woman until the title song plays over the closing moments, where the gang leaves their own hooker in the hallway so they can go grab a drink and forget she ever existed.
I think of myself as a relatively well-put-together person – I think crack cocaine is bad and I am firmly against leaving dead hookers in hallways. My reaction to my “protagonists” leaving a woman who, two minutes ago, was obstensibly part of their lives, in a hallway to be found later is I think the correct perscribed reaction – shock mixed with horror. But it’s not me. It’s them, and they’re in the television, not real, and the way these Pennsylvanian misanthropes just move on with their lives to do something crazy — or crazy wrong — next week turns any indignant “REALLY?!?” into a chuckled, delightful squeal of “REALLY?!?” Which is great. Because they totally go there. You never hear about this show, which is too bad. I know it’s got some critical oomph behind it, but it definitely does not have the cool cache of it’s channel-mate Archer, and it never really has. Maybe it’s too weird, too mean… Maybe, in its own wield Seinfeld on crack cocaine way, it’s too old-fashioned. It’s been consistently satisfying for a small percentage of the television-watching public for so long that it’s kind of become a part of the scenery in spite of the fact that you could make a legitimate argument that what this show has been doing for seven seasons now is bordering on legendary – and is eminently enjoyable when it’s not delightfully cringe-worthy.