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 FX Network: There is No Box

FX Network is a top cable network. FX channel provides highly popular original series and motion pictures. 

Industrial Analysis


       FX Network is a basic cable channel that was founded in 1994 by its immediate parent Fox Entertainment Group, which is owned by News Corporation.
FX, originally named fX, started off as a “live programming, broadcast” from a New York loft. “TV Made Fresh Daily” was one of fX slogans when it first aired. But without much success with live programming,[1] FX took different directions.
        In 1998, Peter Liguori joined the FX Networks was appointed President and CEO of FX Networks. During his five-year period, FX went from reaching 39 million homes to reaching 84 million homes, becoming a “top-five basic cable network”, and reaching the highest ratings and revenue.[2] Under Peter Liguori’s guidance shows like “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck,” and “Rescue Me” turned into top shows. In 2005, John Landgraf was appointed the president and general manager of FX Networks.[3] FX is currently a “Top 5 network”, reaching over 90 million US homes, providing hit original series and motion pictures.[4] FX networks currently gained the basic cable rights of Avatar and The Social Network.[5] In 2007, FX Networks launched its first big marketing campaign: “There is no Box.” Mr. Landgraf said that FX wanted to “elevate nonconformity to an aspirational experience.” The main idea was to show how FX goes against original TV genres. The logo can still be seen on the official FX website and on TV. [6]
-President and General Manager: John Landgraf
-Executive-Vice President Marketing and Promotion: Stephanie Gibbons
-EVP Original Programming: Nick Grad


FX aspires to be a channel in the vein of HBO and Shotime[7] in that they have edgy programming that pushes the boundaries of basic cable television[8]. Series tend to push boundaries with their language and subject matter. For example, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia deals with drugs, the homeless, racism, and politics among other topics. The Shield deals with corrupt cops, Rescue Me revolves around a group of misogynistic fire fighters, and Nip/Tuck takes place in the in the seedy underbelly of plastic surgery. Also similar to the premium cable of HBO and Shotime is that instead of relying heavily on off-network re-runs, FX fills their schedule with recent movies to which they have first-run rights[9].

FX’s most successful and long-running programs to date have been It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rescue Me, Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, and Nip/Tuck. The Shield and Nip/Tuck both ended in their sixth season after having runs filled with golden globe and emmy nominations. Rescue Me ended its sixth season this past summer. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is currently in its sixth season and Sons of Anarchy is currently in its third season.[10]

Signature Programming

FX, again like HBO and Shotime, aims for a blend of comedic and dramatic shows dealing with a darker subject matter[11]. Signature programming includes the successful series listed above and Terriers, The League, Louie, Archer, and Justified. Currently, FX’s original series are trending towards the comedic with five of their eight series being firmly trenched in the comedy genre. Terriers blends comedy with the detective genre, following two unlicensed private detectives. Rescue Me, one of FX’s dramas, blends drama with dark comedy. FX also seems to be taking an interest in sports-themed shows with it’s current showThe League which follows a groups of friends in a fantasy-football league and it’s upcoming show, Light’s Out which follows a former boxing champion and his struggles in life.[12]

Target Audience

FX's target audience is the coveted 18-49 range[13].  Their promotional techniques and show's subject matter can reflect this.  FX features a late-night programming block called Fully Baked. Fully Baked runs Louie, Archer, and its other original comedy series. This is seems to be an appeal to a young, hip audience who smokes pot. The programming block seems to say, Up late? High? Why not watch some premium FX comedy? It’s just what you need when you’re baked[14].  Also, shows on FX can tend to involve racy and sexual topics which would appeal to the younger audience FX wants.  FX also found the blockbuster films it aired attracted their desired target audience[15].

Feature Films

New hits include "Transformers 2," "Spider-Man 3," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and "Hellboy II"; family hits"Madagascar 2" and "Madagascar 3," "Monsters vs. Aliens," "Kung Fu Panda," "Horton Hears a Who" and "Shrek 4"; Oscar nominees "There Will Be Blood," "Changeling," "The Wrestler" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; upcoming releases such as "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," "2012," "Iron Man 2," "Captain America," "Thor" and "The Avengers"; and "Blockbuster" hits: "Tropic Thunder," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Iron Man," "27 Dresses," "Taken," "21," "Vantage Point," "Marley & Me," "Wanted," "Eagle Eye," "Beowulf," "Superbad," "Bride Wars," "Baby Mama," "Hancock," "Step Brothers," "Pineapple Express," "Jumper," "Cloverfield," "What Happens in Vegas," "The Incredible Hulk," "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" and more.[16]

Scheduling and Promotional Techniques

FX only has a few apparent scheduling techniques. In 2009, The League premiered followingIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Thursday nights[17]. This strategy follows in 2010 in an effort to retain It’s Always Sunny’s audience for The League. The fact that they placed the shows on Thursday may be an effort to piggy-back off of the comedic programming that runs on NBC every Thursday from 8-10 pm. Viewers of the comedies on NBC may find it easy to continue their night of comedy for another hour by simply changing the channel to FX.

FX uses their wide range of movies and off-network re-runs to lead into their original programming. Currently, FX uses Two and a Half Men to lead into their original comedy series. FX began scheduling movies more heavily than off-network re-runs when ratings were poor for off-network re-runs and when it was discovered that movies pull in a younger audience than the re-runs. By utilizing the movies, FX attracts more of the 18-49 target audience and is able to slip in promos for their original programming through the film[18].

FX’s promotional strategies expand to clips and episodes available for viewing on their website as well as a presence on youtube, myspace, and facebook[19]. They have also performed public stunts such as holding a live rendition of the musical “The Nightman Cometh” fromIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia[20].

Production, Distribution, Transmission

     The FX Network has a hand in the production of all their shows through either the FX Production Company or Fox 21. These are two production studios owned and operated by Fox which are directly involved with the production of all their shows. The level of involvement and preparation that each show requires, however, varies greatly.
     For example,It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was created by Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day with only a handheld video camera and a $200.00 budget.[21] The actors are the creators and they are responsible for all creativity. Despite such inconspicuous conception, it has become wildly successful, and rules the primetime 10pm spot on FX’s Thursday night lineup.
In contrast to Sunny’s streamlined production, it takes one month to create an episode of Archer. Floyd County Productions in Atlanta Georgia is responsible for creating concept sketches, while Trinity Animation in Kansas receives these sketches and translates them into three dimensional images. Then animators and illustrators storyboard the entire episode and apply the voices of the actors, recorded in Hollywood. The actors are removed from the experience beyond their voice recording (
     FX partners with production companies beyond those owned by Fox. To produce It’s Always Sunny FX collaborates with Bluebush Productions, 3 Art Entertainment, RCH, and Sunny Television Productions.[22] RCH and Sunny Television Productions deal solely with It’s Always Sunny. Bluebush Productions works exclusively with FX shows and it has helped shepherd Damages and 30 Days to the air as well. 3 Art Entertainment, on the other hand, has dabbled in many projects. They are responsible for such theatrical hits as Girl, Interrupted, Down to Earth and Constantine. They have also produced dozens of episodes of King of the Hill. Compare this to the production company Actual Reality, responsible for FX’s show 30 Days. They have a much less conspicuous resume. Their most notable achievement is their eleven episode stint with Greatest American Dog. 30 Days also uses a production company called Warrior Poets. Initially, Warrior Poets was created to produce 30 Days in 2005 but they have since produced 7 other documentaries without commercial success.[23] Their 2007 documentary, What Would Jesus Buy? only grossed one hundred and ninety six thousand dollars and used a two million dollar budget.[24]
      The FX channel is carried in some ninety six million homes.[25] FX transmits shows throughout the United States, UK (Bravo Television, Fiver), Japan (WOWOW), Hungary (Viasat 3, Comedy Central), Norway (FEM), Estonia (TV3), Romania (AXN), Greece, Belgium, Germany (Sony Pictures), Finland, Canada (CanWest), Argentina (LK-TEL) and Italy. They broadcast on the internet as well through the News Corporation’s merger with Comcast - check for free episodes on either or[26] FX may lose some fourteen million viewers due to a dispute with Dish Network.[27] Fox is also threatening to pull their programming from Time Warner which could affect up to thirty million viewers in thirteen million households.[28] FX continues to reache a huge audience through cable/satellite/internet systems.[29] Even with such business disputes, FX reaches a huge audience and remains FOX’s premier channel for original programming.

Current Programs on FX

Malcolm in the Middle

The Bernie Mac Show

Two and a half men

Spin City

That 70’s Show

The Practice


Lights Out (Premieres January 2011)

The League

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Sons of Anarchy




Rescue Me

30 days (Completed)

Nip/Tuck (Completed)

The Shield (Completed)

Textual Analysis


Form and Content

Justified is a procedural episodic serial. It follows U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and the other marshals in Harlan County, Kentucky as they carry out justice. In the series, we are given a representation of the Marshals’ jobs and responsibilities. For example, in the second episode of Justified, Raylan must transport a prisoner, one of the US Marshals actual job duties. Most episodes focus on Raylan and the other marshals tracking down one criminal or a set of convicts that is almost completely resolved by the end of the episode. In the first episode, Raylan and the marshals take down a gang of neo-Nazis led by Boyd, an old friend of Raylan’s. At the end of the episode Raylan has shot, but not killed Boyd, closing the episode’s main storyline but leaving the conclusion of the arc of Raylan and Boyd’s relationship open to be explored in the next episode which it is. It would also seem that in addition to the runner of Boyd and Raylan’s relationship, Raylan’s relationship with his father is a runner that will initiate one of the ongoing plotlines of the show. In the first episode, it is hinted that Raylan has a complicated history with his father and in the second episode, Raylan encounters a convict who knew his father and their relationship is again touched upon.

Construction of Target Audience/ Cultural Meanings

As stated in our earlier report, FX’s target audience is the 18 to 49 range. The crime fighting content of Justified matches that of other shows like Memphis Bea't, Burn Notice, and Law and Order ( Burn Notice had the highest ratings for the summer in the 18 to 49 and 18 to 35 ranges.[30] The similar content of Justified would draw the same coveted audience range. Justified’s premiere also drew 1.42 million men in the 18-49 range, FX’s highest rating in that range since the premiere of The Shield.[31] Justified's weekly averages 7.5 million viewers, of which 3.9 million are adults (18-49). The show was rated number one for a “new series,” within the demographic of men of ages 18-49.
Also, as stated in our earlier report, FX is trying to provide content similar to and in competition with HBO’s programming. One similarity these two networks have in common are the actors in HBO shows also appear in FX shows. For example, Kristen Bauer, who is a recurring character in True Blood, apears in the second episode of Justified. Also, HBO’s critically successful Deadwood has more than a few similarities to Justified. Not only do they both follow US law enforcement figures, but the main character of Justified is also in Deadwood. Timothy Olyphant stars as Raylan Givens in Justified and as sheriff Seth Bullock in Deadwood (who is also a former marshal).[32] Both shows also feature a hazy obedience of the law and a lot of gunfights. In the first episode of Justified, Raylan is transferred for his penchant for shooting on-sight and only shooting to kill, which the superiors in the Marshals’ office frown upon. Later, the marshals are caught in a massive gunfight in the middle of a town road. In Deadwood, the lawlessness is personified by the setting of the Wild West, where shootings and gunfights were a common occurrence.[33] The common actor and content is clearly a bid by FX for the same audience that HBO and Deadwood attracted while it aired on television.
Justified is also able to make a bid for the 18 to 49 range in its source material. Raylan Givens is a character created by the writer, Elmore Leonard. Leonard, who continues to put out novels in the present, has been published regularly since 1954.[34] Leonard also serves as an executive producer on the show.[35] His books have been read by all ages and there are certainly fans of his work that fall into the 18 to 49 range. A way FX is trying to appeal to a younger demographic is by making Justified modern. Unlike Deadwood that is set during the time of Manifest Destiny, Justified is set in the present. Therefore, the show plays hip-hop music during montages and Raylan, though dressed in a suite and cowboy hat, owns a Blackberry phone. Making Justidied more modern attracts a younger demographic.
Even though FX if mainly a channel viewed by many males, Justified tries to appeal to women. For example, Ava Crowder does not portray the stereotypical abused housewife. Even though her character is portrayed as very sexual, she stands up for herself against her abusive husband. Anther example is Rachel Brooks, who is an African American, female cop. She is part of Raylan’s cop group. In the show, she is portrayed as a tough, smart woman who doesn’t take orders from anyone, even her boss (as shown in a specific scene in the pilot). The show has very few female characters, but the ones who are in it appear as strong women that would appeal to a female demographic.

Brand Identity

FX’s current branding strategy is the “There is no box” campaign. The campaign aims to promote the common elements of anti-heroes and nonconformity present in all the original shows on the network.[36] Raylan Givens is clearly our protagonist and a good guy, but he’s got a set of morals that doesn’t quite fit in with those of the law. If Raylan pulls his gun, he means to kill and he shows no remorse about such things. Justified is also unusual for a television show in that it shows Raylan as having a kind and friendly, in some cases, relationship with the criminals he encounters. Also, as stated earlier, FX tries to compete with HBO in the edgy content of its programs, which Justified certainly has with its gunfights and neo-nazis. Rated TV-MA, Justified steps outside the box by including more profanity, sexual activity, and violence.[37] It is clear that FX tried to disregard “the box,” by making Justified edgier in content.

Production History

Justified is jointly produced by FX Productions, Nemo Films, Rooney McP Productions, Sony Productions and Timberman-Beverly Productions ( Justified marks the first time any of the companies besides FX Productions has produced a work that aired on FX.[38] FX Productions also helps produce the FX programs Terriers, Archer, Lights Out, and Damages[39].

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Form and Content

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a half hour, comedic episodic serial on FX. It follows Dennis, Dee, Charlie, and Mac, four friends around thirty years old who own a bar in Philadelphia. Dennis and Dee’s father, Frank, joins as a main character during the second season. The main characters of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are arguably the worst human beings on the planet. For example, Dennis develops an elaborate dating system called the D.E.N.N.I.S. system[40]. He tricks girls into depending on him so he can sleep with them, and then abandon them. The main characters never let principles stop them from inflicting abuse upon each other. For example, in one episode Frank sets his daughter on fire two times.

Most episode plots are self-contained and feature “the gang” encountering and unorthodoxly solving a problem without facing lasting repercussions. However, there have been two-part episodes in the series’ past featuring continuous plot lines. For instance, in “Mac and Charlie Die: Parts One and Two,” Mac and Charlie fake their own death and watch their friends grieve unconventionally for two episodes[41].

Aside from a couple of two part episodes, the long-term effects of the gang’s behavior on minor characters display the serial nature of the show. Several episodes feature a character named Cricket. In almost every episode something happens to him that permanently debilitates him. In the season two episode, “The Gang Exploits A Miracle”, Cricket is on the verge of becoming a priest, but Dee tricks him into thinking that she is in love with him. She exploits a crush Cricket has had on her since high school and he mistakes her manipulation for genuine affection, deciding to abandon the ministry for her. Dee promptly rejects him and her life continues unaltered[42]. We learn in season three, that Cricket has become a bum after renouncing the church[43]. In a later episode the gang falls in debt to the mob and begins to deal cocaine, enlisting the homeless Cricket to peddle drugs to hobos. Cricket becomes addicted to cocaine after the gang smears it on his gums[44]. In season five, the gang enlists Cricket as the heel in a benefit-wrestling match held for the troops. At the end of the episode, Frank accidentally slices open Cricket’s neck with a garbage can[45]. When Cricket reappears in season six, he is deeply bitter towards the gang about his time on the street and also about the injury Frank inflicted on his neck. He reappears talking in a deep, hoarse voice because of the cut[46]. The gang dispenses lasting misery but escapes problems unscathed.

Construction of Target Audience

Both South Park and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia portray edgy topics including, but not limited to abortion and racism in a similar satirical manner. For example, in the episode “Charlie Wants an Abortion” (season one, episode 2) Mac pretends to oppose abortion in order to seduce a catholic pro-life protester[47]. In the South Park episode “Woodland Critter Christmas” (season 8, episode 14) a group of mountain lion clubs perform an abortion on the character Stan’s anus[48]. These similar ludicrous scenarios appeal to an immature sense of humor. South Park’s satirical style and edgy content consistently pulls in high ratings in 18-49[49]. By offering similar content to South Park, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is able to attract a similar audience.

The characters of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia come from both ends of the economic spectrum.  Frank is extremely wealthy from his past as a businessman.  Dennis and Dee started out the series as being fairly affluent but have since become poorer as the series has continued.  Mac and Charlie both fall into the lower class economic bracket.  By portraying characters who occupy both ends of the economic specturm, the show is able to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.  The show does lack diversity as all the main characters are white but guest characters come from a range of ethnic backgrounds.  

Cultural Meanings and Brand Identity

The cultural meanings behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia do not present themselves readily since the show covers such a wide range of issues without imparting any logical, realistically applicable version of right and wrong. The show consistently pokes fun at society through its characters’ severe moral turpitude. It offers many opinions on issues but nothing as definitive as the lessons taught by Maude or All in the Family. The show covers such hot-button issues as racism, jihads, abortion, drug addiction, poverty, the recession and gay marriage while presenting absurd interpretations of the issues. It definitely fits in with FX’s slogan: “There is no box.” The branding ad for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia says “there is no brotherly love”, “there is no smart one”, and “there is no moral to the story”[50]. In “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention” the gang confronts Frank about his substance abuse while drinking wine, brandishing firearms and screaming at him through loud speakers. These episodes definitely fit in with the network’s aim to promote its show as nonconformist[51].

Production History

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is distributed by FX networks but is produced outside of FX productions[52]. It is produced by Bluebush Productions, 3 Art Entertainment, RCH, and Sunny Television Productions. Bluebush has helped produce other FX programs like Damages and 30 Days[53]. 3 Art Entertainment has not helped produce any other FX programs. RCH and Sunny Television Productions have only produced It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia[54].


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs at 10 p.m on Thursday nights. The lead in to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is Two and a Half Men. This does not mesh with FX’s claim that leading into shows with movies often helps boost the audience for their originals but FX president John Landgraf believes “It will be younger and very compatible with the types of FX original programs that we have”[55]. As mentioned in our earlier in our industrial analysis report, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia follows NBC’s comedy block that airs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. NBC’s comedy block features the popular programs Community, 30 Rock, andThe Office. The scheduling of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelpha directly after the of the comedy block might be a ploy to capture some of NBC’s comedy-viewing audience once its programming ends.

Audience and Online Analysis

Programming Availability

FX makes a limited amount of its programming available on its own website. Video clips are available for all of its original series airing on television, even if they are not in season. The channel’s two newest shows, Louie and Terriers, have more full episodes available on FX’s website than any of the other shows. All 13 episodes of Louie’s first season are available and the five most recent episodes of Terriers are available. Through streaming more episodes of Louie and Terriers than its other programs, FX is trying to increase the audience for these new shows. The maximum amount of episodes available on FX’s website for its other series is three.

FX programming is also available streaming from Hulu. The quantity of full episodes is about the same as on FX’s website. On both sites, the full season of Louie is available as are the last five episodes of Terriers. Other shows only have three full episodes available at most. Hulu also features many of the same behind-the-scenes videos and episode clips available on FX’s website. Video clips and behind-the-scenes footage are present on Youtube. However, the sources for these clips are not always official. Many of the clips are uploaded independently of the show or FX. Despite this, FX still makes many of the clips and footage on their website available on Youtube as well. Active forums for the shows exist on Imdb as well as on the FX home website. This is in addition to the comments viewers are allowed to leave on videos streamed at Youtube and Hulu.

Even though FX provides full episodes on Hulu and on its official site. The online audience is not very happy with FX’s posting efficiency. Most viewers are unhappy that full episodes aren’t added until 30 days after the season premiere. It took FX four weeks to upload It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s sixth season premiere. For new shows, it takes eight days to put the full episodes up on their site. The League and Sons of Anarchy were not put online till after the 30-day mark. FX audiences are not happy with this delay, which means that FX can loose viewers because they are not able to keep up with the season[56].

Opportunities for Participation in Brand and Content

In addition to streaming episodes and video clips, FX operates a forum for each of its original shows. All show pages feature links to the show’s forum, twitter page, and a site to register for optional mobile content. Some shows provide blogs that give insight to the production process of the show. There are also featured galleries of high quality images from episodes and from the production of episodes. If you want to go beyond viewing images, most show pages have wallpapers, posters, and screensavers available for download. Some show pages encourage more fan participation than others. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s page features fan submitted photos, a program that lets you edit your own trailer for the show, and ecards. For The League, fans can leave voicemails with their opinions about the show and some of the voicemails are then selected to be aired on the show’s website. On Justified’s website users can play the online games Quickdraw and Target Practice. This is in stark contrast to the page for Terriers, which does not foster the same level of fan participation and only provides minimal access to paratexts.

Paratexts available on the website include blogs, games, ecards, behind the scenes video, and interactive features. For example, “The Crimeline” is an interactive overview of famous criminals in the USA provided by Justified’s website. Also, FX provides links to downloadable apps for the iphone for its programs (e.g. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia soundboard app).

FX also provides further ways for fans to interact and consume their programming with links to facebook and myspace pages for individual shows. In addition to the myspace and facebook pages, fans can purchase merchandise from their favorite shows at FX’s online store. The online store is linked to on all of the individual show websites.  Currently merchandise sold in the shop is related to the FX programs Archer, Sons of Anarchy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, and Rescue Me.  Merchandise related to other News Corporation holdings is also available in the shop including items related to programming on News Corporation's broadcast network, Fox.  When you click on the sale tab in FX's shop it takes you to the Fox Shop.  You can buy American Dad, Family Guy, and The Simpsons merchandise in Fox's online store without ever realizing you've left FX's online store.

Online Advertising

The FX network web site highly advertises their own shows and the feature films it airs by creating banners displaying scheduled air times. A large portion of the advertising on FX’s website is provided by beer companies. Knowing that FX’s main target audience is males between the ages of 18 to 39, beer companies are attracted to advertise on the network. Miller Lite and Coors Light have the greatest presence on the web site. Coors Light has a bigger presence than Miller Lite on the site because most of the advertisements for Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia feature Coors Light. Being one of the shows sponsors, Coors light is always in the prevalent in the show with characters drinking out of clearly labeled bottles and cans. Miller Lite tries to target the male audience that visits FX’s site by displaying an ad where the word “manly” is highlighted.

The FX website also advertises other cable networks and programs. For example, National Geographic’s Great Migrations and Big Ten Network’s Big Ten Icons are advertised on the FX site. News Corporation, who owns the FX network, also owns national Geographic and Big Ten Network. Even though advertising another channel’s content does not help FX directly, News Corporation gains profit from the cross promotion and advertising.

Online Fans and Forums

For the most part, fans are very supportive of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s Always Sunny is like nothing else on television and fans connect with the show’s absurdity and originality. The political incorrectness and vulgarity are major selling points. One fan on the FX message boards said “I'd eat a horse t*rd for Sweet Dee in a hot second” and this post echoes the general sentiment of most discussions, not just those on FX Networks (FX Network Fans, Television Without Pity Members). An enormous majority of the fans use the message boards to offer praise to the show’s creators. Through the first 100 of FX Networks 424 discussion threads, only 5 of them started with negative subject matter. A majority of the forums on the Internet discuss favorite characters and quotes or directly suggest ideas for future episodes (FX Network Fans). The laudatory threads garner much more interest than the derogatory ones. Between the first 3 negative threads on FX Networks there are 30 posts, while there are 200 posts between the first 3 positive threads (FX Network Fans). Even threads started with negative intent such as “WTF is up this season?” or “The next episode should be The Gang Loses Their Audience” only stir a fraction of the interest positive minded topics solicit (FX Network Fans). Sites with 1 continuous thread to host all conversation, like Television Without Pity, rarely sustain disparaging conversations but focus on a common love and admiration for the show (Television Without Pity Members).
While FX has many different threads with consistently fewer than 100 posts, some unofficial forums offer 1 thread with thousands of posts (Fan Forum Members). Threads begun as discussions of the pilot episode 5 years ago reveal interesting evolutions among their viewers. Many people initially started watching Always Sunny as a fluke or simply because it aired after Starved (Fan Forum Members). Television Without Pity fans are clearly confused early on about the show’s range of topics and absurd characters. As they begin to recognize the consistent lunacy of the show, the show inevitably wins them over – or they stop posting (Television Without Pity Members). The all-encompassing threads provide an interesting insight into the evolution of the show and its followers.
These threads also offer much more diversity in terms of critical opinion and the discussions have much more legitimacy in their long running analyses of the show. TV lovers often frequent sites like Fan Forum or IMDB and contribute to Always Sunny threads as an afterthought (IMDB Members). The members celebrate a love for all television and contribute more refined opinions and more succinct analyses of the show. They don’t just concern themselves with a zealous devotion to Always Sunny but consider its place in the entirety of television.
In FX forums, egregious misspellings and immature hermeneutics create an air of juvenility. People come just to acknowledge the creators and offer thanks to the network. Many of the posts endearingly ask FX administrators to identify particular songs and items of clothing used in the show; these questions constitute a larger percentage of FX’s posts than they do for unofficial websites (FX Network Fans). FX also consistently leads its members into conversation by presenting new threads and new questions to discuss instead of allowing ongoing conversations to develop. The topics created by FX Administrators concern the show’s promotion as well. Members can vote for the show to win awards or they can participate in specific contests the network hosts. One such contest asked fans to make a commercial for Coors, a sponsor, and the winning commercial would air during the show (FX Network Fans).
For the most part, the show receives two types of criticism. First time viewers with heightened sensitivity to political correctness immediately lambast the show for its profanity and offensive themes. These people do not maintain a consistent presence on the boards – they often leave one comment to receive backlash from dozens of die-hard fans. The ill-willed responses hardly solicit an extended conversation though. Most fans respond with one post, sometimes weeks later, attacking the critics’ poor sense of humor. The intensity of the attack depends on the fan’s loyalty to the show. The critic seldom responds to the insults and their criticisms rarely kill the momentum of supportive discussion.
One poignant form of criticism comes from legitimate fans. Some sects rejects the show’s product integration. They rally around “The Great Recession” as an egregious example of product integration where both Coors and Dave and Buster’s figure prominently. The blatant commercial agenda destroys their faith in the show.
The most consistent form of criticism from long time fans, however, centers over a decline in the show’s quality. The 6th season has caused the most controversy, alienating many fans that want the show’s creators to reclaim their currently dwindling writing duties and take a more active role in producing the show (Television Without Pity Members). Some people lost interest as early as the 3rd season but many feel the plots of recent episodes have deteriorated, especially since the audience has expanded (FX Network Fans). In “Seriously: What Happened This Season?” an FX forum, fans spew discontent with the new season. They chastise the creators for losing the edge that gave the show such originality in the first place. Only 2 of the 16 posts defend the show but the thread itself dies very quickly due to simplistic analysis and unsophisticated arguments.
In many cases, however, the anger fans feel at their show’s betrayal causes them to swear off watching new episodes. They say the show sold out, either commercially or creatively, and they resign to cherishing only the first few seasons.
Despite some negativity, the overwhelming sentiment of the online community is positive. Fans love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for its creativity, originality and how it bears no semblance to any other show on television.


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  14. Although no examples of the advertising for "Fully Baked" were available in print or on the web, the ads usually air during It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia on thursdays at 10 P.M.
  15. Umstead, R. Thomas. “A New RX for FX.” Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  16. Eisenhardt, Rob. "FX Network." Ad Age. Crain Communications, Inc. October 6, 2010.
  17. FX networks. FX Networks, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  18. Umstead, R. Thomas. “A New RX for FX.” Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  19. FX networks. FX Networks, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  20. FX networks. FX Networks, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  21. Jones, Bryan. “Comedy Central Grabs ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’ For Syndication.” TV Overmind. Ultimate Magazine. October 22, 2009.
  22. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” October 6, 2010.
  23. “Warrior Poets.” October 6, 2010.
  24. “What Would Jesus Buy?” October 6, 2010.
  25. “FX Networks, LLC.” News Corporation. June 8, 2010.
  26. “News Corporation, NBC Universal and Comcast Reach Strategic Online Video Distribution and Content Agreement.” News Corporation. June 8, 2010.
  27. Nakashima, Ryan. “FX, NatGeo, Fox regional sports channels, MSG dropped from Dish in fight over fees.” Star Tribune. October 1, 2010.
  28. Deggans, Eric. “Fox TV owner News Corp. threatens to pull stations from Time Warner Cable.” St. Petersburg Times. December 19, 2009.
  29. Direct Tv Inc. Direct TV, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  30. Seidman, Robert. “Summer Scripted Live+7 Recap: ‘Burn Notice,’ ‘Royal Pains’ & ‘Covert Affairs’ Top Basic Cable With Adults 18-49.” TVbytheNumbers, Oct 2010. Web. 4 Nov 2010.
  31. Seidman, Robert. “”Justified” Scores Second-Highest Series Premiere Ever for FX.” TVbytheNumbers, 17 Mar 2010. Web. 4 Nov 2010.
  32. “Sold Under Sin Episode Recap.” CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 4 Nov 2010.;recap.
  33. “Justified.” 4 Nov 2010.
  34. “Novels.”, n.d. Web. 4 Nov 2010.
  35. “Justified.” 4 Nov 2010.
  36. Becker, Anne. “FX Brands Itself With Slogan ‘There is No Box’.” NewBay Media, Dec 11 2007. Web. 4 Nov 2010.
  37. “Justified.” FX Networks. Web. Wed. November 4, 2010.
  38. “Justified.” 4 Nov 2010.
  39. “Justified.” 4 Nov 2010.
  40. “The D.E.N.N.I.S. System”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 19 Nov 2009. Television.
  41. “Mac and Charlie Die: Part One and Two”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 2 Oct 2008. Television.
  42. “The Gang Exploits A Miracle”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 27 Jul 2006. Television.
  43. “The Gang Exploits A Miracle”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 27 Jul 2006. Television.
  44. “The Gang Gets Whacked Part One and Two”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 1 Nov 2007. Television.
  45. “The Gang Wrestles For The Troops”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 29 Oct 2009. Television.
  46. “Mac's Big Break”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 7 Oct 2010. Television.
  47. “Charlie Wants An Abortion”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FX Network. 11 Aug 2005. Television.
  48. “Woodland Critter Christmas”. South Park. Comedy Central. 15 Dec 2004. Television.
  49. Gorman, Bill. “Wednesday Cable Ratings: Storm Chasers Goes Calm; Terriers, South Park, Ultimate Fighter, and More.” TVbytheNumbers, 28 Oct 2010. Web. 4 Nov 2010.
  50. “There is No Box.” FX Networks, 2008. Web. 4 Nov 2010.
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  52. “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” 4 Nov 2010.
  53. “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” 4 Nov 2010.
  54. “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” 4 Nov 2010.
  55. Umstead, R. Thomas. “A New RX for FX.” Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  56. Killan. Is FX Alienating their Online Audience?. October 18, 2010. Accessed November 17, 2010.