Photo: Patrick McElhenny / FX; Screen: FXX

Who Wrote A Better Flowers For Algernon Homage?

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The League gave their dumbest characters a brief glimpses of higher IQs -- but which show did a better job?

Insanely dumb characters are the bread and butter of FXX's programming. (The extra "X" is either for extra xomedy, or it's just a stutter.) And though all the characters on both It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The League have repeatedly proven themselves to be both socially and intellectually stupid, each show does have a stupidity All-Star: Charlie (Charlie Day) of Sunny is a special kind of idiot born from a life of spray paint huffing and head injuries, while The League's Taco (Jonathan Lajoie) has slowed his brain to a crawl via copious consumption of marijuana and what seems to be the word's most friction-free lifestyle.

This week, both of these broken minds get fixed, if only temporarily. On Sunny, Charlie becomes the subject of a scientific experiment, was given "smart pills," and turned into a "genius." On The League, Taco loses his weed stash, forcing him into sobriety, and returning him to normal levels of intelligence. The question is: which show did it better?

Who Did It First?

It feels unfair, as both episodes premiered last night, October 23rd, but It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia airs thirty minutes ahead of The League, giving Sunny the "W."

Winner: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Which Show's Dumb Character Got Smarter Than The Other's?

If you only watched the first twenty-five minutes of each episode, you might believe that Charlie made the bigger jump in intelligence. Early in the episode, he proves himself to be dumber than a lab rat, but after taking the "smart pills," he's able to become fluent in Mandarin in just two days. But in the last five minutes of Sunny we find out Charlie's new intelligence is all an illusion. So Taco, who goes from being an out-of-it pothead to a person of average intelligence, takes it by a technicality.

Winner: The League.

Who Created A Better Mechanism To Make A Dumb Character Smarter?

Sunny created a "magic pill" to improve Charlie's intellect, which really worried me while watching it. Before this week, the Sunny universe was more or less the same as our own in terms of what is scientifically possible, but if there are magical smart pills in the world of the show, then its writers have free range to introduce anything they want regardless of plausibility -- a dangerous precedent. (As it turned out, my worries were premature, as we will see below.)

The League just removed marijuana, the obstacle preventing Taco from achieving normal intelligence. It is simple and true to the reality of the show and its characters, and also allowed Taco to get smarter without losing his personality. He was still Taco, just more fazed by life.

Winner: The League.

Which Character Proved His New Intelligence In Funnier Ways?

Charlie not only learns Mandarin in two days, but also starts using Shakespeare quotes to complain about a War & Peace manuscript he starts carrying around and solving complex mathematic equations. Listening to both Beethoven and Mandarin on two different sets of headphones exclaims, Charlie exclaims, "I just realized that I have two ears so it’s a waste to only listen to one thing." The obvious response: "You just realized you have two ears?"

Taco just realizes how ugly the rest of his friends are, and creates an equation about the world's supply of boners: apparently, it is a universal constant.

Winner: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Which Ensemble Reacted Better To The Loss Of Its Idiot?

The gang from Sunny begins huffing gasoline, bringing their collective IQ down even further. With Charlie off doing "smart" stuff, the rest of the gang have to kill their own rats. I love Dennis's (Glenn Howerton) plan: he lays out some brie and plays some mood music in order to entice the rat into a glue trap ("It's not about brute force. It's about seduction"). Frank (Danny DeVito) is possibly the most effected by Charlie's new intelligence. Now unable to enjoy their Gruesome Twosome Tuesday of Mongolian Barbecue and a Police Academy sequel, Frank seems truly saddened by the loss of his better half.

The fantasy football league first enjoys a little schadenfreude at the discomfort Taco feels outside of his cocoon of THC, but eventually, inconvenienced by Taco's new intellect, the league "dehabs" Taco, returning him to his former stupidity.

Winner: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Who Created A Better Return To Normal?

The reveal of the Sunny episode is that the experiment is measuring how much of an asshole one becomes when he is told he is very smart. The smart pills turn out to be placebos; the scientists have only been pretending that Charlie has become a genius. The scientific breakthrough Charlie has been working on since he began taking the placebos is a box that allows cats to talk to spiders (based on the scientific principle of "9 + 9 = box, and that’s where the cat goes!"). The scientists' findings: someone told he is a genius becomes obnoxiously arrogant. To which Mac (Rob McElhenny) responds, "You stupid science bitches couldn't even make my friend more smarter!" I am so happy they figured out a great way of getting around the "magic pill" problem.

The guys in The League abduct Taco off the street and force him to smoke weed, despite his protests, which feels more like a Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas) move than one the core group would make.

Winner: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Who Wrote It Better?

The League was not bad, but Sunny really nailed this premise. It was actually penned by Game Of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and if this is the result, I am all for having more guest writers on the show.

Winner: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

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