Rob McElhenney, <EM>It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia</EM> Rob McElhenney, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia may sound like a pleasant enough show, but there's nothing saccharine about FX's cult-hit comedy. Following the deplorable behavior and self-absorbed shenanigans of a group of friends who operate a South Philly dive called Paddy's Pub, the series enters its third season on Thursday, Sept. 13 (10 pm/ET, FX), and the DVDs for Seasons 1 and 2 arrive in stores today. Creator, producer and star Rob McElhenney recently spoke with TVGuide.com about the new season and provided some insight on attractive transsexuals, the City of Brotherly Love and whether he plans to get loaded with costar

Danny DeVito before their upcoming appearance on The View.

TVGuide.com: In the beginning you, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day did all the writing. Was it at all difficult to let some new people into the creative circle for the third season?
Rob McElhenney: Well, it's still very much like the first two seasons. We did hire a small staff of writers to work with us this year, and they were very helpful, but we have 50% more episodes this year than we had last year. It's a lot of work.

TVGuide.com: Is there any chance a protagonist will arise this season, or is the plan to keep every character just as loathsome?
McElhenney: There's no changing. Our characters are going to stay just as loathsome as they were from Day 1. Now, I think you can root for all the characters from time to time, but I don't know if any will ever be sympathetic. Maybe Charlie, because he's so darn loveable.

TVGuide.com: What's something about your character, Mac, that people might not know?
McElhenney: Well, he really wants to be happy. He just wants a dad to be able to go to baseball games with. That part of his character will become more defined this season in an episode where his father gets out of jail. I spend the entire episode trying to get him to hang out with me, and you see this really needy, pathetic side of Mac. In the episode "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," there was some of that. It really wasn't about sex; Mac just wanted someone to like him.

TVGuide.com: In the online preview episode, "Mac Is a Serial Killer," he gets mistaken for a murderer because he's secretive about his relationship with a transsexual. Is that about sex or his insecurity?
McElhenney: That's about Britney Daniel. You saw her.

TVGuide.com: Was it difficult to get her to agree to play a transsexual?
McElhenney: No. Not at all. She's a friend of ours and we've known her for years. We just asked her to play a tranny on our show and she was game.

TVGuide.com: Why did you pick that particular episode to tease the third season?
McElhenney: We felt as though it was a good representation of what we want to do with the show this year. It's also Internet-friendly because it's pretty fast-paced and could be broken up into separate segments.

TVGuide.com: You said it's representative.... What exactly are you trying to do with the third season?
McElhenney: Basically what we've hoped we've done all along, which is to make the show as funny and as engaging as possible. We want to focus on characters, but also story. All along, we've wanted to do something different, where people don't feel like they know exactly what's going to happen at every turn.

TVGuide.com: So does your Philly background still provide you with inspiration for episodes, or is the city just a backdrop at this point?
McElhenney: It's absolutely part of my inspiration. I grew up such a huge Eagles fan, and for the upcoming episode "The Gang Gets Invincible," we were able to go back and shoot in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field. It was really cool. Also, I know what it's like to grow up in a city that's only won two sports championships since I was born. I know what it's like to root for the underdog, the lovable loser. That really comes into play on our show. The characters are blue collar, tough and struggling to get by.

TVGuide.com: Has bringing in Danny DeVito helped get the word out?
McElhenney: Definitely. Not only his name recognition, but he's able to go on big talk shows like Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, Letterman and The Daily Show. That's where our audience is, so that's really helpful, because those guys would probably never have me or Glen or Charlie on.

TVGuide.com: You sound so wistful. Does it make you upset that you're not getting calls from booking agents at talk shows?
McElhenney:
F--k yeah! It's not an ego thing; we just want to promote our show. They say, "You guys don't have any experience on talk shows." We're like, "Yeah, well, we can't get experience if you don't put us on the show." It's a catch-22.

TVGuide.com: Is it really necessary to have experience to be on a talk show? Don't you just need to know how to, well, talk?
McElhenney:
They want to see tape on you. They want to know you're not going to just come on their show and be a drag. I can understand that. It's just hard to promote our show unless they invite us on. However, Danny is going to do The View again and we're going to be on that.

TVGuide.com: Taking a cue from Danny's last appearance, do you guys plan to drink before you go on?
McElhenney: I can only speak for myself and say that I might. Who knows what Danny will do? He may hit the Limoncello or he may not.

Find out why it's always Sunny in our Online Video Guide.

The Sept. 3 issue of TV Guide features loads of NFL previews, as well as sneak peeks at many of your favorite returning shows. Try four risk-free issues now!

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.