Frank Reynolds

Written by @EllieDangerous
‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ is a sitcom about how its title is a lie. It’s always dark, because the horrible main characters spend most of their time festering in that pub of theirs and being the worst human beings on the planet. And Frank – who for some reason is played by Danny DeVito – is the worst one of all.

Spoiler Alert
I promise I like this show. Really I do. It’s laugh-out-loud silly and its cult popularity stems from how loathsome the characters are, which is fascinating. These are good characters. But they are also despicable and I hate them.

I hate Frank. Nasty, nasty Frank. ‘Always Sunny’ features a youngish gang encompassing Dennis, Dee, Mac and Charlie, but Frank is a generation older. He’s never grown out of being a prat, and that’s one of the reasons why he’s the worst.

See, when you meet a horrible person, you hope for their sake and the sake of the people around them that they’ll change. At least a bit. Mop up some of the slime they’ve drenched themselves in. And for a group of thirtysomethings like this one, there is maybe some hope that they could evolve out of slughood, but that hope doesn’t exist for Frank.

As the show keeps telling us, he’s set in his ways because he’s been this way for a long time and has proven to himself that he likes his ways. He’s the least likely to ever become a better person.

There’s also the idea that Frank is what the gang will be like in twenty years – and no one wants to see that. 25-75% of the other characters are his kids and will probably warp into him one day. Yikes. They don’t seem to realise that their future is right there with them, blithely cutting its toenails with a toe knife.

Thirdly, there’s the fact that Frank actually chose this life; and it’s such a nasty, greedy life that we gotta laugh at its extremes. This is a gang of carelessly criminal alcoholics, brutally misanthropic, self-serving to the extreme, unloved and ungiving, and ew, gross, just gross. Charlie is maybe a murderer. Dennis is maybe a rapist. Mac spreads STDs on purpose. Dee definitely set someone on fire. These people live the worst life imaginable, but they didn’t rationally choose it, it just sort of fell on them. Frank, on the other hand, sat down and went “Yes! This is the life for me”.

This is because he’s a rich and resourceful entrepreneur, giving him the freedom to choose. But for his retirement he chooses to live in squalor and lead a sick, gloomy existence. He gambles, steals, and is very good at waterboarding. He waves a revolver around like it’s his pointing finger, and he's suicidal but only when the greedy bastard looks like he's run out of money.

He initially claims that his taste for squalor is a facade to stop his ex-wife going after his fortune, but no, he likes it. He likes it gross. What kind of sane person chooses this as the conclusion to their life? Frank does. Frank Reynolds.

Another reason why Frank is totally the worst is that he is the First Cause. Yeah like a God or something. He sparked this gang into being.

He’s Charlie father, so without Frank the borderline psychopathic (yet inexplicably endearing) Charlie wouldn’t exist. As for Dennis and Dee, Frank raised them really, really badly. Take their childhood Christmases, for example, when he’d buy all the presents they’d asked for but then keep them for himself. Ouch. It’s heavily implied that he’s a big reason as to why the twins are such jerks. Without Frank, this gruesome gang might not exist.

It’s only fair to try and defend him a bit, so here goes. Frank spent some time in a psychiatric hospital, and we’re not sure why. He was a disturbed kid. Then he was a wide-eyed teen who got trapped by his treacherous brother into heartbreak and addiction, though he kind of stole that story from about fifty movies, so whatever.

The bottom line is that he’s had a dark, cruel life. So maybe it’s understandable why he ended up the most hateable person in a group of hateful people, but he’s still that. He’s still hateable. The best worst character on the worst best show on TV.
I need an Advil, a roll of duct tape, a pack of peanuts, and four beers.
Mac: "I'm gonna smash this vase over their goddam heads!"
Dennis: "Yes, Mac! Yes! I'm gonna blast them with this fire extinguisher!"
Charlie: "Okay, I'll toss hot soup in their faces."
Frank: "I'm gonna pinch their dicks with this lobster."
Ellie Ball is the founder of Good Characters, and someone who enjoys coffee cake a great deal. She is a graduate of the Scriptwriting MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. For fun and respite, check out her TV analysis articles on Bang2Write or tweet coffee cake at her @EllieDangerous.
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Published on 9 July 2015

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