After the masterpiece that was “The Gang Turns Black,” I worried the follow up episode wouldn’t live up to its predecessor. But god was I wrong. Dropping the gang in a Philadelphia waterpark and forcing them to interact with other people reminds the audience just how messed up this group of people really are.
For Mac and Dee, their one quest of the day is to ride their favorite childhood slide, the “Titty Twister.” Though, because it is obviously made for small children, the pair immediately gets stuck in a rather tight corkscrew and proceeds to be piled upon by the continuous stream of children who are still sliding down. Interestingly enough, not only are the park lifeguards above uncaring idiots, they are also “Game of Thrones” creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff — two huge fans of “Sunny.” This show has a habit of orchestrating amazing cameos, and let me tell you, I am here for it.
In “The Gang Goes to a Water Park,” pairing Mac and Dee up for this episode was a great decision for the show. Ironically, even though the actors playing the roles (Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson) are married in real life, the two characters share the least amount of screen time together. Personally, some of my favorite parts of the 12-year running show are the shouting matches the gang gets into. Therefore, sticking the two biggest screamers together in an inescapable scenario made for the perfect predicament. For example, Dee attempts to break through Mac’s triple laminated park bracelet from the ’90s (to which he owes for never having to pay admission) in a fit of unadulterated rage. Hearing the terror in Dee’s voice as she realizes she will be soaked in the water she refers to as “a urine-delivery system” made me laugh out loud. And watching her obsessively check the water with her urine tester is comedy gold. Even better, we get to see Dee and Mac bicker with the children behind them about holding their pee, which is ultimately proven to be a lost cause when Dee’s urine tester turns bright red, indicating the water is fully infested with the children’s (and Mac’s) pee.
In the gang’s everso opposing nature, Charlie and Frank’s goal of the day is to ride every ride before the park closes. Seeing their realization that Charlie’s ridiculous speed suit, which apparently will “help cut down water resistance,” will not help them achieve their dreams is hysterical. Why? Because their solution is to convince the park Frank has AIDS since they saw a young boy with Leukemia get to skip to the front of lines. Charlie and Frank’s horrifying disregard for sensitive subjects is a lot to take in, especially when they proceed to scream “AIDS” at park goers and push their way to the entrance of every slide. This joke may be extremely close to crossing the line and going too far, but I have to admit the pair’s genuine ignorance made me laugh out loud. “Sunny” loves its social commentary, and if you look at their making light of AIDS as one, it is easy to see why the writers put this plot into their script. The whole point of Frank and Charlie’s existence is to catch a glimpse of two people who lead insane lives and live by logic that causes them to eat cat food at night and use a “toe knife” to scrape the scum from under their toenails. These men aren’t looking to offend anyone — they just want to ride all of the slides.
But, as the gang’s ignorance usually ends, Charlie and Frank are condemned for their sins when they find a newly crafted mega-slide that has yet to open. With Charlie deciding half a bottle of water will be enough lubricant to wet the slide (again, this pair’s logic is not sound), the audience is treated with watching bare-back Frank scream in pain as he scoots down the sahara-dry plastic. Ending with Frank falling into the water below, we see his torn up back bleeding profusely, causing a pool of red to grow around the wade. Again, this pair gets their just desserts. Park goers instantly run away in fear, assuming (logically, I might add) that Frank actually has AIDS. Having Frank float helplessly in pain is the only type of swimming he deserves.
Last, we have Dennis, our maverick of the group. Only coming to the water park to prey on women who are “seeking relief from the insufferable prison of motherhood,” he decides to take on a widowed middle-aged father persona that he believes will get him laid. If you watch “Sunny,” you know that this isn’t surprising behavior for trained manipulator Dennis Reynolds. While his schemes usually end in either sex or him ranting about his godly nature, he instead trades an easy mom for young Abby, a pre-teen girl who is a better con-man than the master himself. Realizing her potential, Dennis tells her, “as somebody who’s been down that road, let me tell you something. You’ve got real talent.”
Dennis, being the sociopath that he is, has trouble with his emotions. But watching the fondness he has for young swindler Abby made me smile. And after the montage of her and Dennis conning park goers of their possessions, I realized I wouldn’t complain if “Sunny” became the Abby show. Unfortunately for me, she departs at the end with all of her and Dennis’s stolen booty. The final look in Dennis’s eye is one of a proud father, convincing me that one day this man could raise a really, really horrible child.
Therefore, I’d have to say “The Gang Goes to a Water Park” was impressive. “Sunny” has a habit of making their premieres fantastic, and then the rest of the season lacking until the finale rolls around. Gladly, this was not the case in season 12. Separating the gang into three equally delusional factions makes for a dynamic way of storytelling, allowing the audience a change of scenery and a new look at the way this codependent group functions around other people.
Kelsie is a senior at UWT and is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Tacoma Ledger. She is double majoring in creative writing and film studies, and has fiction published in the Tahoma West literary arts journal. In her spare time, she enjoys stage managing local Tacoma theater productions and working as a barista at Volcano Coffee in Puyallup.