By Brock Bowen
When life hands you lemons, you follow that yellow brick road until you arrive at Emerald City. In It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the road feels like it’s always sunny —it’s light, it’s playful, and they can tackle dark and moral topics as if it were nothing. The best way to explain it would be to compare the main characters of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to the main characters in The Wizard of Oz, and to use the color symbolism that the show uses to prove these points.
How it splits up:
Frank : Oz (The Wizard) *He doesn’t show up until the second season but he funds the bar*
Dee/The Waitress : Dorothy *Both are waitresses, one for a bar versus coffee shop*
Mac : Scarecrow (No Brains) *His stupidity in thinking he is “The Brains”*
Dennis : Tinman (No Heart) *Is a diagnosed sociopath with borderline personality disorder*
Charlie : Lion (No Courage) *Stalks the Waitress but doesn’t have the confidence to win her heart*
How the color symbolism breaks down :
Frank : Red (Wears red polo) *Means chaos, disorder, destruction, power*
Dee : Yellow (Wears yellow top) *Means cowardice, sunshine, happiness*
Mac : Black (Wears black shirts) *Means darkness, mystery, evil*
Dennis : Blue (Wears blue shirt and sweater) *Means law, order, structure, depth*
Charlie : Green (Wears green jacket) *Means growth, greed, money, envy*
Throughout the show, each of the characters conforms to a color to represent their personality. Usually, this is displayed by the color of their shirt, though the environment plays a background to contrast or emphasize those themes. Even though each character conforms to a main color, it does change up when the scenarios and relationships change, which can be seen by comparing the colors of the shirt.
Man oh man, women.
No matter which order you phrase man and women in a sentence together. Women are the subject, and men are the accessory. It’s Always Sunny is a feminist show, but for most audiences, it goes right over their head. This is the perfect delivery system though, getting people who refuse to see what’s really being shown to watch it play out.
It seems kind of obvious that Greenman would be the king of Emerald City, even though color symbolism isn’t a widely talked-about subject. If you’ve ever read The Wizard of Oz or seen the movie, you’ll know that to get to the Emerald City, the group had to travel down the Yellow Brick Road. I was listening to the Great Gatsby soundtrack one day after watching True Detective, when I came to understand the symbolized usage between the colors yellow, blue, and green. It’s obvious really – we forget so easily that yellow and blue equals green, but it means much more than I can show you on this page. You’ll start to see it everywhere if you just start thinking a little bit more.
In It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, each of the male characters represent a fragment of one total man. Dennis is heartless, so he represents the tinman. Mac is brainless so he represents the scarecrow. Charlie, my favorite, is the lion, because of his cowardice towards the waitress. If you watch the show in chronological order, Frank doesn’t come in until the second season because he represents Oz, who appears late in the movie. However, if you combine all of the characters together, you get Toto. Men are dogs, women are cats – the cliche exists because archetypes are so hard to break in reality. Dee is obviously Dorothy, but so is the other waitress.
Dee and the Waitress are the same character. The only difference is that the waitress is Dee after she got the help she needed to get away from the bar. Every single character in the show carries some defect, but they all try to cling onto some hope through substance abuse. I mean, that’s why they own a bar.
In color symbolism, there are the three primary colors to represent the three main archetypes in life. There is law, which follows God, which is blue. There is chaos, which follows the Devil, which is red. Finally there is yellow, which represents being alone and not associating with a side. Sometimes being alone can come from cowardice, but it can also come by choice. Long ago, before technicolor existed, there was only light and dark, black and white. Red and blue, however, are both the dark side, while yellow is light. The battle between red and blue wasn’t the original battle at all; it was always light and dark, but darkness knew it couldn’t win on its own so it fragmented itself to bounce yellow in between red and blue.
Charlie, Dee, and the waitress are the only characters worth rooting for. Mac, Dennis and Frank are savages, because they completely run the bar, despite Charlie having a stake inside it. This may sound a little strange, but Mac is black. No, seriously. If you take away all of the symbolism, there are only three characters total. They would be Mac and Frank as an individual, Charlie and Dennis as an individual, and Dee and the waitress as one. I’ve seen a lot of television, and carefully written shows always end up the same way that the first episode ends. The same is true in the television show Oz, and it always keeps going around and around until we are ready to stop together.
In the first episode of It’s Always Sunny titled The Gang Gets Racist, the gang unknowingly turns Paddy’s Pub into a gay bar, and by the end of the episode, Dennis is so drunk and distraught that he had no idea all the things happening to Charlie were actually happening to him. He became so drunk that he had sex with a giant black man, and a blonde that he thought was a girl, but was not, which we later find out is “The Tranny” and Nick, the Tranny’s husband.
There is a lot going on in the subtext of these shows, but because it is so easily digestible and likeable, we drink it down as if it were nothing. It’s like “The Man’s Prayer” played at the end of every episode of the Red and Green Show that goes, “I am a man, but I can change if I have to, I guess.” Honestly, did you really think it would always be sunny?