‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Is the Wordiest Show on Television

‘It’s Always Sunny’ has a word count that makes subtitling the show more obnoxious than the characters themselves
‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Is the Wordiest Show on Television

There are a lot of characters who deserve to be considered among the most unfortunate victims of the Paddy’s Pub pack in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but, given the show’s many court scenes, you can’t forget the poor stenographers.

The breakneck pacing and cacophonous cadence of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia makes the show one of the most stylistically distinct sitcoms in existence. Though many shows use overlapping quips and quick clapbacks to create an electric atmosphere and lively tone, It’s Always Sunny goes one step further and simulates the experience of being in the crappiest Irish bar on the Eastern Seaboard while a pack of maniacs scream over each other as they pound beers and huff glue. Everyone is stepping on everyone else’s lines, and uttering a single uninterrupted sentence is the highest achievement a character can reach.

Earlier this year, WordFinderX released a study on subtitles in modern television, reaching the conclusion that, at 176.2 words per minute, It’s Always Sunny is the most overwhelmingly verbose and difficult to caption series on television, beating out Brooklyn Nine-Nine by just 2 WPM. Rob McElhenney and his buddies could probably get it under 140 if they cut out every time they call Dee a bitch.

As the study notes, The National Disability Authority of Ireland has a publicly available set of recommendations for closed captioning as it affects the hearing impaired community who rely on subtitles to follow along with their favorite shows. Based on a couple minor constraints like “average reading speed” and “TV’s don’t have enough space to transcribe five psychopaths screaming at each other simultaneously,” the organization came to the conclusion that TV shows should, if possible, stick to a maximum WPM of 140 – and, even in the most dire of sitcom circumstances, a series should never exceed 170 words per minute if they expect a read-only audience to understand anything that’s going on.

With an average word count outside the upper extreme, It’s Always Sunny is the hardest to caption and hardest to follow via subtitles – and, on average, comedies are consistently among the highest WPM of all TV shows. Since comedy continues to be the most popular genre in television and, as WordFinderX pointed out, a majority of young TV watchers now indulge in their favorite shows using subtitles, the sustained of It's Always Sunny is even more remarkable considering that most viewers watch it like they're reading one of Charlie's scripts.

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