Regular viewers of FX's It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have noticed this season that the character of ‘Mac,’ played by series creator Rob McElhenney, has been looking a bit different this season.
Wednesday’s night’s season finale revealed Mac’s super-jacked body, but also the reason why.
In the episode titled, “Mac Finds His Pride,” McElhenney performs a jaw-dropping modern dance in order to express his coming out to his father.
The character came out to friends in 2016, but hasn’t been able to find the words to open up to his father.
Vulture sets the scene:
In the finale, Frank (Danny DeVito) is trying to convince Mac to prance on the gang’s gay pride parade float, but Mac isn’t feeling it. In his own way, Frank tries to help: “I never really got you and, to be honest, now that you’re gay I get you even less. Nothing against it, I just don’t get it.” Nevertheless, he vows to help Mac find his pride, which involves coming out of the closet to his imprisoned father, Luther (Gregory Scott Cummins).
But Mac can’t open up to his father, at least, not with words. Which is a good thing because if he did, it would sound something like what he threw at Frank when he tried to explain his internal struggle: “There’s like this storm inside of me and it’s been raging my whole life, and I’m down on my knees, and I’m looking for answers, and then God comes down to me and it’s a very hot chick and she pulls me up and we start dancing.”
The episode ends with a dance that literally brings that raging storm to life as he performs a modern dance in the rain for his father and fellow prison inmates.
DeVito’s ‘Frank’ watches the performance in awe. As the dance comes to a close, he says, “Oh my god, I get it. I get it.”
The stunning dance sequence, which also features gorgeous work by professional ballerina Kylie Shea, took seven months of development, training and rehearsals before the cameras even began rolling.
For one thing, McElhenney has never danced before in his life.
And, in order to become ‘Fat Mac’ for season 7 of Sunny, he had to gain 50 pounds of fat. Now, he needed to drop all that and get into shape just to be able to approach the movement and partnering that would be required.
Working with trainer Arin Babaian, who worked with Channing Tatum on Magic Mike, McElhenney began a regimen that consisted of no alcohol, no eating after 7PM, no carbs or sugar, lifting weights six days a week, stretching an hour a day and running three miles every day.
And that was before he started working with choreographers Alison Faulk and Leo Moctezuma.
It would take two and a half months of rehearsals to develop and finesse the dance.
“Rob came out of the writers room saying he wanted it to represent the struggle, the push and pull, and that helped Leo and me to put the choreography together in a way that showed vulnerability and strength,” Faulk tells Vulture. “The woman represents the light and the good and everything pure and amazing — and he’s the dark. So it’s basically a giant metaphor for being able to love and accept yourself.”
Finally, the day of reckoning came.
After shooting for 12 hours, director Todd Biermann says that most of what the TV audience sees was from the last three takes.
Bravo to McElhenney and all the contributors. This writer has been a professional dancer for almost 40 years. Trust me when I say, this is an amazing achievement.
Watch the emotionally charged dance as it closes season 13 finale of Sunny below.