Character’s Coming Out Was Poke At Self-Hating Homophobes

Rob McElhenney’s “Mac” comes out in dance sequence with Kylie Shea (screen capture)

With the FXX series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia set to premiere its 14th season this week, show creator and star Rob McElhenney shared the gay evolution of his character, “Mac,” in a new Rolling Stone interview.

It seems Mac’s coming out in Season 11 was never really meant to be the character becoming full-on gay.

Explaining that the writing approach on the show is to “take whatever viewpoint any character has to the extreme,” McElhenney said the writers came up with the gay angle because Mac “is such an arch-arch Catholic conservative when it suits him, and when it doesn’t, he drops that.”

Noting that many Christian conservatives are homophobic, the creators began bouncing ideas on how to take that to the next level and satirize that.

“And that’s when I thought, ‘Let’s make him gay,’” says McElhenney. Looking back over past seasons, the writers felt some of Mac’s subtext played into that storyline.

So in Season 11, Mac came out during an episode involving a gay couple on a Christian cruise.

McElhenney tells Rolling Stone the intent wasn’t to create a “gay character for comedic effect, that was there just to be gay and to be funny because he was gay.” The point was to poke fun at the ‘hypocrisy’ of an arch-conservative coming out.

At the end of the episode, however, Mac went back in the closet in a plot twist.

But the positive outpouring from fans about Mac’s coming out made McElhenney and his team realize “we screwed it up.”

So, in Season 12, Mac came out again and stayed out. “It felt good that we were recognizing a part of our audience in a way that was not pandering, that wasn’t offensive or upsetting or a caricature,” says McElhenney. 

And that led to the finale of last season when Mac performed a shirtless, interpretive modern dance as a way to finally come out to his father, who has spent most of Mac’s life in prison.

The dance sequence, which has become one of the critical high points of the series, was born out of “always trying to surprise people and do something different.”

Explaining the show tends to stay away from “tapping into emotional resonance,” the 42-year-old actor shared that the creative team wanted to stretch and do something different. And since McElhenney had no dance experience whatsoever, the intricately choreographed dance would definitely be ‘a stretch.’

After four months of intense training and rehearsals, the challenging segment closed the season in spectacularly unexpected style.

When Season 14 debuts, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will tie the 1950s family comedy The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for the most seasons by a live-action sitcom.

Tune in to see what’s next for Mac and his irreverent bunch of misfits this Wednesday, September 25, at 10 pm on FXX.

Rob McElhenney as ‘Mac’ in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (screen capture)

(source: Rolling Stone)

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