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Over 14 seasons of a comedy like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia you’re bound to offend someone or present things that may not age well. Show creator Rob McElhenney recently admitted as much, but unlike other creators he explained why it’s important to learn from those moments and strive to do better.
McElhenney was profiled by Esquire writer Emma Dibdin in a piece that explores his new show, Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet and also dives into the long history of Sunny and how it’s impacted his life. The feature is great and chronicles how things have changed in TV in the decade-plus since McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton filmed two episodes of what became Sunny at their apartments in Los Angeles.
McElhenney explained that the show was originally supposed to be the anti-Friends, where people didn’t have each other’s backs and tried to distance themselves from caring about others. And that gruff attitude, though funny, has resulted in some early episodes that don’t age well when it comes to homophobia, racism and sexism. But McElhenney said it was always important to distinguish between his character Mac and McElhenney as a showrunner and writer, even if the show failed people on screen.
“An important distinction that I think we try to make in Sunny—and don’t necessarily always succeed—is that for as homophobic or racist or ignorant or terrible as the characters are, I think it’s clear that the people behind the show are not. And where we have blind spots, we try to ameliorate or at least recognize them.”
The piece mentions a trans character in season one, Carmen, who McElhenney admitted was called a “slur” in the early episodes. In later seasons, the character returns and the show tried to handle them better and make amends, to some success.
“[The characters] were calling her a slur during the first few years, which was most definitely out of ignorance. It was never supposed to be inflammatory or hurtful, but nevertheless, it was. We can’t go back and re-edit those episodes, but what we can do is make sure that as we’re moving forward, we’re making those adjustments and doing our due diligence.”
McElhenney mentioned that Sunny lacks representation in many ways, but that it wasn’t intentional. Now, assembling a writer’s room is a more deliberate process, and it’s made for much better results on screen as well. It’s something McElhenney has tried to be aware of when making Mythic Quest, admitting that he’s no longer the young cutting edge of comedy or politics that he perhaps once was.
“I’m an old man in the writers’ room, and I think of myself as a pretty progressive lefty liberal, but sometimes by the end of these conversations I feel like I’m an archconservative! I don’t always agree, but if I just shut the f*ck up and listen, nine...
The coronavirus outbreak has put nearly every TV and film production on pause, leaving many entertainment industry workers without a job or pay as self-quarantine becomes the new normal. However, many prominent film and TV players have called upon studios to step up and take care of their staff, including, most recently, Rob McElhenney, the co-creator, writer, and star of FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and now Lionsgate Television’s “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” which premiered on Apple TV+ on February 7. That series just saw production on its second season halted amid the pandemic.
McElhenney shared a lengthy statement, via Twitter and seen on Deadline. His aim is to encourage other showrunners to speak up on behalf of their staffers to help alleviate the financial burden to come for many workers living from job-to-job and paycheck-to-paycheck.
“Here is what the most powerful people in our industry can do to help those in our community who need it most: Convince the studios to continue paying people during the shut-downs. This is a very complicated issue,” McElhenney tweeted. “The studios who have not committed to continuing payroll are NOT evil. There are many factors that have to be reconciled and it's easy to be on one side of things and make judgments. The truth is that continued payment for an indefinite period is untenable, but...
“Recognizing that this won't be over in two weeks, a month, three months — we're all going to have to, at some point decide what a responsible return to work will look like. This is what we came up with. Hope it helps...,” he wrote, outlining what he envisions to be an effective plan.
“‘Mythic Quest’ is going down for two weeks. Hopefully that slows the curve of this thing and buys the healthcare system some time. Then, barring major developments we will create a protocol of medical clearance for each and every person to return. Including...
“Medics doing exams on everyone before return and then remaining on set for continued vigilance. The sets will be properly sterilized in accordance with CDC guidelines and we'll all be keeping up with basic common sense measures...
“Make no mistake, this is not ideal. A complete quarantine of a few months would be best. But that's not going to happen without a total restructuring of life as we know it. So, taking ALL of that into account, 2 weeks seems right. This would be a major hit to the studios and the producers. But so many of us have profited and benefited from this system in astronomical ways. It is times like this when we all have to make sacrifices. Especially for those who helped us to profit and benefit. The upsides here aren't just for those getting their checks. Thousands are...
Keeping true to its word, Disney+ has updated The Simpsons fans on how soon to expect episodes of the classic animated series be made available in its original aspect ratio. The fledgling streaming service had promised a fix by 2020, and according to a latest tweet, fans should be good to go by the end of May.
We appreciate our fans’ patience and are working to make the first 19 Seasons and part of 20 of #TheSimpsons available in 4:3 versions on #DisneyPlus. We expect to accomplish this by the end of May.
— Disney+ @disneyplus April 2, 2020When Disney+ launched in November, Simpsons fans were quick to notice that older episodes looked noticeably off. Like most television series before the advent of flatscreen TVs, the show originally aired in a 4:3 ratio. To avoid showing black bars on each side of the picture, Disney+ used versions of the show that were cropped into 16:9 format, which cut off visual gags and led to characters looking stretched and distorted in certain scenes as shown below:
Not only are the classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+ awkwardly cropped, but they're stretched in a lot of places too. Bart's head looks 4 inches wider here: pic.twitter.com/fCpmTPasGj
— Tristan Cooper @TristanACooper November 12, 2019In Disney+’s defense, the cropping issue also occurred when FXX started airing The Simpsons marathons, and it’s believed the streaming service simply imported those versions after acquiring Fox. However, Disney was quick to respond to fan reactions, and within days of launch, it promised to offer viewers a choice of aspect ratios in a statement to The LA Times:
“We presented ‘The Simpsons’ in 16:9 aspect ratio at launch in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons. … Over time, Disney+ will roll out new features and additional viewing options. As part of this, in early 2020, Disney+ will make the first 19 seasons and some episodes from Season 20 of ‘The Simpsons’ available in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, giving subscribers a choice of how they prefer to view the popular series.”
While May pushes the limit of “early 2020,” it’s understandable that Disney has had its hands full, as the pandemic has forced the company to scuttle release dates for major blockbusters like Black Widow and Mulan while halting production on a variety of upcoming projects headed for theaters and Disney+.
Via Disney+ on Twitter